Modest fashion is nothing new, especially in the Muslim world. As a Muslim woman, I can tell you that our entire wardrobe often revolves around dressing modestly. While growing up in the West, it became quite the task. I either wore boys’ clothes or had to wear a cardigan with everything. But with more than 3.45 billion Muslims in the U.S. alone, modest fashion was bound to come hit the public eye at some point.
From Muslim models who wear the hijab on the cover of Vogue to Nike making a sports hijab, modest Muslim fashion is definitely working its way into mainstream fashion. I, for one, am extremely excited about it.
But what’s even more impressive than Nike making a hijab, for example, is a Muslim-owned modesty brand like Verona Collection being celebrated as its own company.
Verona Collection, founded by Lisa Vogl and Alaa Ammuss, was sold for the first time in a Macy’s Store. The mainstream department store teamed up with the Muslim woman-owned brand in Feb 2018 and sold select pieces online, which was a big win in its own right. Now, Verona Collection is also being sold in-store and online, following a big launch at a Detroit Macy’s.
Many enthusiastic Detroit Muslims and bloggers attended this major event, which featured a red carpet, music, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and shopping of course.
Many Muslims have voiced their concern that non-Muslims brands like Nike making hijabs is indeed exciting, but it could also be a means of capitalism to tap into the modesty market. “American Islamophobia” author, Khaled Beydoun engaged his followers in an Instagram post and got opinions if “this is a sign of progress and acceptance or commercial opportunism and marketing.”
But what sets this particular collaboration apart is that it is a step towards inclusion and celebration of a Muslim woman’s business. In partnering with Verona Collection, Macy’s has started making the move from diversity to proper representation because Lisa and Alaa—two Muslim designers have been recognized for their hard work—are being represented as its own entity, with an entire line made just for Muslims.
Riz Ahmed explained the difference between diversity and representation in his interview with Trevor Noah. “I don’t like to talk about diversity. I feel like it sounds like an added extra. You got your main thing going on, and you sprinkle a little bit of diversity on top of that. Representation is absolutely fundamental in terms of what we expect from our culture and from our politics. We all want to feel represented. We all want to feel seen and heard and valued.”
Now, when I can walk into a Macy’s and buy modest clothing made by Muslim women for Muslim women, I feel seen and heard. I feel that I am being valued as a consumer by a major department store, all while supporting a Muslim woman-owned brand.
Finally, we’re in the clothing game – all without having to choose between who we are and what we want to wear. It’s my hope that Macy’s first step into the modest fashion space opens the door for other companies to acknowledge Muslim-owned businesses in their own right and gives them the much-needed space they so deserve.