Written by Mariana Aguilera | Follow me on Instagram + Twitter
Thursday, February 25th, 2016 marks a historic day in modest wear--in particular for Muslim women but also to benefit all modest wear communities. UNIQLO collaborated for the second time with artist and clothing designer Hana Tajima, the British and Japanese heritage artist most known for her innovative clothing style, her own clothing line and her signature headscarf style.
When I first received the invite for the early access launch for the UNIQLO and Hana Tajima collaboration, I had to take a minute to let it process. Is this for real?, I asked myself. So much I had to check who was sending it. Oh, it was very real! What I felt as a 10 year old revert to Islam doesn't compare to what probably Muslim women in the U.S. who have been born into Islam, but I definitely share in to their emotions. I felt, aside relief, was acknowledgment of my appearance within the retail world. On a general level, I felt acknowledgment of our creativity and talent of our Muslim women. Right after the moment of thought, I got this high of happiness! I'm being part of a historic moment was my next thought. This is the first time in U.S. retail history that a global clothing chain store collaborates with an artist and includes catering to the Muslim woman--rightfully done too!
The feeling of going online and/or walking into a store that caters clothing to my dress style is quite joyful! Any woman from any religious community and from just a conservative dress style will tell you stories on the challenge of putting together a modest style outfit--it calls for store hoping! Not so much now with the numerous of modest clothing brands that have opened since 2009 and before. We do shop like other women but just more creatively.
As to the headscarf(hijab) attention, this means a world of acknowledgement for those who wear the headscarf for spiritual and cultural reasons--making it of great significance--specially in these times where the significance of the headscarf for Muslim women has been scrutinized. The styling of a mannequin with a headscarf has been done in the past in stores like Old Navy, other retailers and throughout fashion history, but to take a public step as UNIQLO did and give the headscarf its significance both spiritually, culturally, time and place, shows the progressiveness of the brand.
There is a fashion industry argument on fashion brands taking from artists and not acknowledging them properly, so for UNIQLO to not only want to market to the modest fashion community, it is not just taking from the artist but acknowledging her talent. In terms of headcoverings on a mannequin, of course it is not a new thing! Throughout fashion history, Western women have brought back with them head covering styles from their travels to the orient merely for style, think Greta Garbo and fashion designers like Paul Poiret made collections with Eastern inspirations showcasing head coverings like the turban which I am sure ended up on mannequins and magazines, but just for creative and style expression reasons.
The latest headscarf rave was the H&M ad, which of course was not targeted in the U.S. but close enough because we are globally connected through social medial and most recently the Dolce & Gabbana collection targeted to women in the Middle-East. Which brings to question, why is the U.S. so behind in being inclusive when we are supposed to be the most diverse country in the world. My personal take, probably politics. What makes this collaboration historic? This time it is different and unique because here is a brand acknowledging the spiritual meaning of a piece of clothing and also at the same time acknowledging it as a style for those who wear head coverings for merely style and cultural reasons as designers and personalities have done in the past. Also, if you pay attention to the women models, they are diverse.
The moment got more real as I made my way through Manhattan from one fashion event to another. As I went up the 5th Avenue UNIQLO escalators to the VIP area, I felt nostalgic and grateful. I think I almost cried to the guest check-in lady. It was actually happening! Entering the area, I was greeted with a wrist band and a crowd of people looking at four standing models wearing pieces from the collection. As the evening continued, Hana Tajima came out to say a few words of appreciation---I must say she radiates peace. Later in the program and a very powerful woman part, her friend, singer Yuna, came out to sing a few songs in support of her friend's milestone. It was my first time hearing her sing and I must say I'm a believer now. An amazing voice! She also dropped some awesome news--her collaboration with Usher and sang the song. The evening was also full of gathering with other amazing women in the Muslim modest fashion industry.
The UNIQLO collaboration isn't jut meant for Muslim women but for women from different communities who like reservation in their style. With this historic moment in modest wear, I really hope it is something other brands at this global level can pick up specially in the term of inclusivity of all women and men. There are modest wear brands out there that could serve various communities with the help of collaborations with big retailers too like UNIQLO. As far as being a success, well on day two, items were being sold out and low in stock. So, yes, the demand is there!