Meet the Hijabistas

With bright colours and different styles, hijabi fashion follows the season’s trends

July 14, 2016 04:52 pm | Updated 04:52 pm IST - CHENNAI

Ayesha Nawab, fashion blogger. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Ayesha Nawab, fashion blogger. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

A loose turquoise full-sleeved shirt tucked into high-waisted yellow parallel pants, grey pumps, a pink sling bag and an Audrey Hepburn-esque styled floral scarf around her head... She floats in looking like she stepped out of a spring-summer New York runway. “Did you always dress like this?” I ask, trying not to stare too rudely. “Actually, I did. My mother used to dress me up this elaborately since I was in school. Back then, I used to complain, but today, I’m grateful.” she says.

A quick look through her Instagram account, miss_nawabi, and you will know the impeccable fashion sense of Ayesha Nawab, a city-based hijabi fashion blogger. She says her style is a mélange of vintage and new-age fashion. “You can see it when I incorporate floral with denim – my style is a mix of my mom in the 1980s and me in the 2000s,” she says.

“For me, wearing a hijab was a conscious decision. I was studying, living in Australia, and I just thought this was something I should do.” The turning point came when she started working part-time at Hijab House, a popular boutique in Sydney. “It might sound funny, but I had no idea how to wear a scarf and it never occurred to me to look for a YouTube tutorial. On my first day, I just randomly wrapped a scarf around my head with two bows and went in to work. Believe it or not, my boss liked what I had done and told me to style the mannequins the same way. Surprisingly, every girl who came into the store that day wanted to know how to tie a scarf that way.”

A pilot and teacher by profession, Ayesha Nawab and her sisters are the brains behind the brand Mysha, which does customised Islamic couture.Mumbai-based fashion blogger Farheen Naqi’s Instagram account filterfashion has 22.8k followers. “Cover as much as you want but be creative about it. If you can’t wear skinny jeans, go for palazzo pants. Else, make them yourself.”

City-based fashion blogger and designer Shazia Barkathulla – better known by her quirky instagram handle, the_devil_wears_parda – is putting hijabi fashion on the haute couture map. Her collection of hijabi clothing, which includes stylish maxis, overcoats and capes, has been shortlisted for the final round in the Gen Next Category at Lakmé Fashion Week-Winter Festival 2016 this August.

According to her, the style of the modern Muslim woman is a mix of modesty and simplicity. “I style my looks using products easily available at retailers in the city.” Hijabi fashion is increasingly becoming popular among Muslim women. Shazia says that while the previous generation stuck to the traditional black burqas and abayas, the present generation is more open to experimenting with colours and prints. Brightly coloured abayas in different styles like kimonos, kaftans or A-lines are the rage these days.

They all agree that there is a huge range in the market if you want to shop. All of them swear by Zara and Koovs, while the scarves are the best in Max and Splash. But local hijab boutiques turn out to be disappointing in terms of collections.

This lack of up-to-date hijabi fashion was what led Nayaab Shawl and Shanaz Rukshana to start Hayaah Hijabs, a first-of-its-kind start-up. “Sometimes, we find the local hijab stores having stagnant collections for years together. We want to bring out collections every season, like mainstream fashion.” says Shanaz.

However you style it, the Hijab – printed, embellished, customised or mass-produced – is, quite literally, the crowning glory for many of these hijabistas.

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