Hat tip-Esther to Islam in Europe


Introducing Ukraine to Muslim Fashion

By  Mohammed Safwan Jolak, IOL Correspondent


“I was confident that decent Islamic clothing can participate and compete,” said Kokalits. (IOL photo)

KIEV — Olga Kokalits felt she was on a mission to introduce Islam to the Ukrainians when she decided to take part in a fashion show in the European state.“I felt it was a duty,” Kokalits, a Ukrainian Muslim revert, told IslamOnline.net on Friday, July 4.

With her Islamic-inspired apparels, Kokalits stole the limelight in the best fashion designer contest last week.

The 25-year-old presented a selection of ten different Islamic attires varying from wedding gowns to evening dress and sports outfits.

“I was concerned that Muslim clothes, which cover the whole body except for face and hands, will look odd and funny to an audience who are not familiar with such wearing.”

But Kokalits’ concerns vanished over the warm welcome from the audience and judges.

“I was surprised to see the audience showing great interest in my creations,” she said.

“I was more pleased to see people rushing to purchase and order my designs.”

Role Model

Kokalits’ designs received praise from the judging committee with the Muslim designer qualifying for the finals.

She finally ranked third among the top 20 stylists.

“It was a source of pride to me to take part in the competition,” said Kokalits, who embraced Islam four years ago.

“I was confident that decent Islamic clothing can participate and compete.”

Ukrainian Muslim leaders extolled the Muslim stylist as a role model.

“Kokalits is a model of confident Muslim women who are determined to show Islam’s face of modernity,” Ismail Al-Kadi, President of the umbrella Federation of Social Organizations in Ukraine (Arraid), told IOL.

Kadi believes Kokalits sets an example with her experience.

“Her participation and success in this competition shows that Islam can be compatible with all aspects of life.”

“We are always encouraging Muslims to integrate into the society in order to promote Islam as a religion of peace, coexistence and tolerance.”

Ukraine is home to some two million Muslims making up 5% of the overall 46-million population.


Europe Discovers Muslim Fashion


IslamOnline.net & News Agencies


Young Muslims are striking the balance between faith and fashion. (Reuters)

PARIS/ROTTERDAM — Reconciling their faith with the dictates of fashion, style-conscious young Muslim women across Europe are leaving their mark on Europe’s urban street culture and influencing mainstream fashion.“H&M and all the French stores have taken our fashion,” Mahika, a 24-year-old Muslim from Paris, told Reuters on Wednesday, April 25, referring to the famed Swedish clothing company Hennes & Mauritz.

In a country which fiercely upholds its secular identity and which banned hijab in schools, modest Muslim clothing does not have to be fashion-lacking.

“Popular styles this year have beadwork and the color is orange,” said Ouslghozi Jkrom, displaying her store’s array of bright colored dresses and hair veils.

A generation of young hijab-clad Muslims has influenced Europe’s fashion industry as the runways now discover a trend of mixing long dresses with jeans, and layering sweaters and tops.

“It’s not just Muslims who are buying our jeans now,” said Susanna Cavalli, chief of product development for the Italian company Al Quds.

With a baggy cut and multiple pockets, the company’s new line of jeans was mainly tailored to cater to Muslims who want to stay comfortable while praying.

But Cavalli says Al Quds jeans are becoming popular among non-Muslims too.

“It’s a good fashion product, first of all. That means the spectrum of our audience is growing.”


“It’s not just Muslims who are buying our jeans now,” Cavalli said. 

Daughters of migrants to Europe have brought their own culture to urban streets and swayed the mainstream fashion.

They say the trend has made their life in the West much easier as they do not have to struggle to get dressed properly.

“I find it very easy to dress. You find all kinds of things in town,” said Bushra Sayed, a 20-year-old Muslim student who lives in Holland’s Rotterdam.

“It is about combinations and it has got easier since you see the influence of our fashion in general fashion.”

Wearing her dark brown hijab, blue shirt and knee-length skirt over jeans, she believes religion and fashion need to be mutually exclusive.

“I am a Muslim but I am also a person who is interested in fashion and I want to combine all these things.”

She is always determined to incorporate brash modernity into her wardrobe while adhering to the tenets of her faith.

“For me it is important to cover my body, except the hands, feet and face. And within that I can wear whatever I want, but it should not be too tight and short.

“My mother, friends, and relatives are very enthusiastic and I did not have to fight at all for my own style.”

Bushra is one of five women who put together MSLM, a new glossy fashion magazine for style-conscious young Muslims.

The magazine, launched in April in Dutch, French and English, offers fashion tips for fashion-enthusiast Muslim girls.

The women have also organized a fashion exhibition in Rotterdam alongside the magazine, displaying outfits made by Dutch designers with Islamic dress codes in mind.

One dummy in the exhibition wears a black halter-neck dress, while its back, arms and legs are concealed by a black-lace cat suit worn beneath.

“These girls can’t live without Zara, H&M and Mango,” said Natasa Heydra, a Rotterdam gallery curator who is among the editorial team of MSLM.

She added that injecting fashion into a traditional Muslim wardrobe does not have to be like walking a fine line.

“There is a basic set of rules and within these rules it is about choice and about modesty.”


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