What serves as a daily target for harassment on the heads of some Muslim women is now a fashion that western markets are tapping into for profit.
According to the 2015-2016 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, Muslim consumers spent a projected $230 billion on clothing. This number is projected to more than double to $484 billion by 2019. This is more than the amount of fashion spending of Japan and Italy collectively.
We’re seeing a trend that recognizes Islam’s rapid growth. Pew Research foresees that the amount of Muslims worldwide will be the same as Christians by 2050.
Nike recently announced the “Pro hijab” for Muslim women, which they will begin selling in the Spring of 2018. They are the leading athletic wear company to venture out into the market of Muslim modesty.
Nike’s move is definitely worthy of celebration and is long overdue. In a world regularly troubled with inter-communal anxiety and the irrational fear of Muslims, a large brand that embraces the hijab as a source of liberation paves the way for Muslim women’s assimilation.
Considering recent developments like the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice that allows employers to ban employees from wearing visible religious representations such as the hijab is just one example of the need for building bridges through solidarity.
Although Nike’s move is commendable, it also raises concerns. Just as Italian brand Dolce & Gabbana has encompassed fashionable abbayas, (long, flowing cloaks that hide the shape of a woman’s body) they and brands like Nike are tossing young Muslim industrialists away by alleging to transform something that’s already been made.
What these companies fail to understand is the meaning behind these religious garments. Hijab is a concept of modesty through clothing and character that aid in religious duty. The headscarf is simply an object.
Many hijab wearing Muslim women, myself included, can justifiably see the capitalist appropriation of a religious practice as unimpressive.
Observant Muslim women experience distinctive trials due to their desire to observe the religious integrity of modesty.
Sukoon Sportswear is a fashion line started by Arshiya Kherani, a Muslim woman developing a realistic and creative solution to the needs of modest fashion, and in doing so, serves a market that many corporations don’t know about.
With the help of these young women exposing the market, major companies choose to appropriate the opportunity instead of elevating the status of the women who made it possible.
From the viewpoint of capitalism, this is a natural and eventual shift. However, if these businesses want to actually promote diversity, they must form places for young trendsetters who understand their clienteles to help better advertise their commodities.