In recent years, the terms ‘diversity and inclusivity’ are regularly thrown around. However, we often seen minorities used as tokens, only visible on screen, but rarely behind the scenes. Sharif believes this too applies to Muslim women, “I don’t believe that praise or representation helps Muslim women in the industry, so far all it’s gotten us is people using us for tokenism and focusing on the hijab alone, when Muslim fashion is far more expansive than that. Where are the Muslim fashion editors? Writers? Creative directors? Can anyone style a hijab properly?” she asks. Haidar also points out that designers have commoditized the Hijab, while runways remain absent of Muslim women. “We’re seeing clothes that adhere to the requirements of hijab that, ironically, aren’t attached to so many of the clichés we face when things are designed with us in mind,” she explains, further highlighting the strange double standard.
Fashion is, in fact, political, it does not exist in a vacuum, its dialogue with culture runs from the supply chain to the runway. Sharif points to the fact that what we wear tells the world who we are and who we want to be, for it is a marker of gender, sexuality, class, religion and race. While it can also be fun and creative, it is intrinsically political.
If you’re reading this today, I hope you’ll leave with something to think about. What is the conversation that needs to be had here? Here’s one final note from Haidar that I’d like to leave you with: “Islamic practice is rooted in faith and cannot be reduced to the physicality of a head covering. The nuance of this lies in the fundamental point that Islam is expressed through living, and the applications and fluidity of that practice, it becomes so visceral that its expression can exist in anything imaged and materialized though Muslims.”