Style trailblazers: Muslim fashion

A new generation of young, fashion-conscious Muslims are proving that you can be cool and modest, stylish and individual without compromising faith, as Vision.ae finds out

Dubbed Muslim hipsters (or ‘mipsters’), this growing group of stylish, hijab-wearing women work within rather than against the rules, incorporating traditional dress codes to conjure up modern looks.

One of the Muslim hipster trailblazers is Hana Tajima, who started her own fashion label Maysaa two years ago, and blogs about her far-reaching influences and inspirations including catwalks shows and high street trends on http://hanatajima.com/. Twenty-six-year-old Tajima epitomises the new Muslim hipster, glamorous yet edgy, elegant yet quirky. The trend straddles the big cities of the world and she would look at home in any of them, from London’s Dalston to New York’s Williamsburg - or the glitz of Dubai.  

Tajima describes her style as “eclectic but minimal. One part of me wants to wear everything all at once,” she says, “and the other part of me wants definite shape and tone, so I sit somewhere in between.” 

Her designs reflect her personal style. They are urban, modern - and modest. She was inspired to start her own label after feeling these elements were missing from the fashion world. “What motivated me was being able to put out a vision of beauty that was underplayed in mainstream fashion. I wanted to look at the idea that there are forms of beauty that are not sexualised but are still deeply meaningful.”   

Social connection

Muslim hipsters, like all good trends, have a Facebook group (search for Mipsterz) and a Twitter hashtag - #muslimhipster.  And no mipster worth their hijab is without a tumblr: fashionwithfaith.tumblr.com is run by Stockholm-based Imane who has become the unofficial poster girl for the Muslim hipster movement.

Mixing DM boots with tailored coats; knitted jumpers with boyfriend jeans; long skirts with men’s shirts and customising winter scarves for her own unique take on the hijab, Imane buys most of her clothes from high street stores such as Zara and H&M. She looks like she’s stepped off the pages of Vogue’s Street Chic, but hasn’t had to compromise her beliefs in order to look this stylish.

Like Tajima, Imane is a style sponge, soaking up inspiration everywhere she goes, from “people on the streets to architecture on buildings. I like taking two items from two different time periods and creatively mixing them together to create my own style,” she says.

The internet has also been a major source of inspiration to Imane and has helped her to connect to other Muslim fashionistas. “I have developed my creativity by browsing social platforms such as blogs and Instagram accounts and through these I found a fellowship with other girls,” she explains.

Meanwhile, Tajima believes that a Muslim dress code doesn’t restrict creativity, but may actually fuel individuality. “In certain ways it is similar to haiku, or other defined art forms. The fact that you have a new set of boundaries forces you into ideas you might never have explored,” she says. And Imane agrees. “Because I value modesty within my clothing, I have to explore my options further than you normally might do in the fashion market.” 

Trendsetters

Where underground designers and style bloggers go, the big fashion boys are sure to follow. Sniffing a trend, the likes of Prada, Hermes and Calvin Klein are becoming increasingly aware of the potential of fashion conscious Muslims and, with Muslim fashion said to be worth an estimated US$89m, it’s not a trend they can afford to miss.

Indeed, a few years ago Hermes featured two Middle Eastern women wearing their distinctive scarves in the style of a hijab. After Issa, the label loved by the Duchess of Cambridge, was bought by Camilla al Fayed in 2011 its collections have featured headscarves and twists on the abaya. And it’s about time; Muslim women, have been adapting high-end designer clothes to their own requirements for years.

“I think this is all because there are Muslims from a huge range of different backgrounds converging all over the world - some second or third generation or even converts. But they are all ready to explore,” says Tajima.