We live in a world, where women are constantly subject to questions about their attire. When there is prejudice against a certain community, often the first targets are women and what they are wearing. Threats of arson, thrown cups of boiling coffee and online harassment from Australian politicians – represent a few of the many real and horrifying responses that women have received for wearing hijabs, burqas or other religious wear in recent times.
In September 2014, the Islamophobia Register Australia was created to record incidents against the Muslim community. In its first year, over three hundred reports were made. As discriminatory practices that threaten the religious freedoms of Muslim women increase, so too does a defiant movement of celebrating modesty fashion and religious wear. A steady increase in the Muslim youth demographic and the growing popularity of Muslim fashion blogs has had a growing impact on today’s fashion and retail industry. It was estimated that in 2013 the Muslim fashion market was worth nearly 200 million dollars, which is expected to double by the end of 2018.
Young Muslim women are increasingly turning into fashion trends wanting to express their fashionable individuality while continuing to uphold faith values and observe tradition. Being stylish and being devout are not mutually exclusive. This growing fashion movement is essential in stopping the stigma and potential violence centred on religious wear.
In Australia, where Islamophobia occurs too often, recent RMIT University graduate, Azahn Munas has founded an online headscarf retailer called MOGA. He wanted to create a brand that catered to young women, irrespective of whether they wore the scarves for religious or fashionable reasons. “Headscarves in particular have been a rather controversial topic.” Azahn tells me. He wants to remind people that ultimately everyone has the right to wear a scarf in whatever way they choose to. “As a result, it should be something that brings people together as opposed to keeping them apart,” he says.
MOGA aims to bring women from all cultures and religions together to celebrate individuality and style. The brand aims to break the racial stereotypes against women who choose to wear religious headwear. By celebrating each woman’s freedom to wear whatever garment aligns with her religion or culture, MOGA hopes to empower women to feel selfassured and confident in their choices.
Their corporate social responsibility practices lie in their commitment to donate 20% of all profits to CARE Pakistan, a non-profit organization who aim to assist the 5.1 million children currently not receiving an education. Of the poorest 20% of the population of Pakistan, two out of three young women do not go to school. Educating women and thus empowering them is essential to breaking the poverty cycle that keeps women docile and illiterate.
MOGA joins fashion brands dedicated to eradicating Islamophobia and stigma around religious headwear through the defiant and loud celebration of Muslim style. MOGA is not only about Muslim women though, Azahn hopes that the brand can become a worldwide community of women, secular to religious, sharing a vision to accept diversity and make a difference in the world.
This article was written by Dani Leever.