By Tasneem Chopra
For Australian Muslim women ‘Hijabi’s’, notional references to “that thing on your head” have long been the hallmark of headlines, sound bites and conference titles. More often than not, surrounding conversations have stemmed from an analysis of Islamic dress code as if it were an archaic and punitive set of injunctions devoid of any personable expression. It is for this reason in particular that the emergence of the modest fashion movement burgeoning across the globe has made us stop and take notice.
Much can be said of this movement that has engendered supporters and critics from within and outside the Muslim community. While opinions have been divergent, what cannot be diminished is the fact that it’s a hot topic of conversation. Terminology beyond fashionistas now co-opts words like, hijabistasts and turbanistas into modest fashion parlance in recognition that this trend is driven largely by Muslim women and, to a lesser extent, men.
In Sydney and Melbourne, landmark events signifying our association with modest fashion occurred with the highly acclaimed ‘Faith Fashion Fusion: Australian Muslim Women’s Style and Identity’ exhibition running in Sydney and Melbourne. This year, we have also been privy to inclusion in the Australian tour of internationally renowned photographer Langston Hues undertaking his ‘Modest Street Fashion’ project.
The explosion in the number of bloggers on the social media scene based here and abroad has placed Australia’s modest fashion scene squarely in the conversation concerning women who take pride in dressing with style whilst maintaining their faith principles.
The strategic pairing of contemporary trends in fashion aligned to adhere to modest dress codes has become order of the day for Hijabistas. Creating designs, adapting lengths, volumes and accessories to create a specific style, whilst not compromising an individual’s spiritual belief can take work. But given the fun element in this experience, it is little wonder that this nations top Hijabista bloggers are gaining momentum with followers in their tens of thousands.
Social media traction is occurring at an exponential rate. In fact, you could watch a video tutorial on a new way to style your hijab daily. Assuredly, you will never wear the same look twice. Whether or not this aspect attracts criticism or enthusiasm, what is clear is that many hijabi women in particular admit to finally being enthusiastic about donning the hijab. As role models on social media, Hijabistas are demonstrating how to dress with modest confidence.
Two prominent Australian fashionistas/Hijabistas in Australia are Zulfiye Tufa and Wiwid Howat from Melbourne and Sydney. Respectively, each blogger extensively utilises social media platforms via Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to advertise their styles and educate followers about fashion tips and personal inspirations.