BROOKLYN – A young American Muslim woman has turned her frustration into inspiration, founding a clothing line for Muslim women struggling to find modest and fashionable outfit.
“Finding an outfit for any occasion is always a nightmare — my peers, friends, young women, older women, they all had the same problem,” Sherihan Moustafa, Egyptian-born, Bensonhurst-raised founder of Urban Modesty, told Brooklyn Paper on Tuesday, July 12.
“You either dress very traditionally, or you try to put something together by layering clothes from five different stores.”
Moustafa, a 29-year-old City College economics grad used to struggle to find outfit suitable for any occasion.
Seeking a solution to the problem affecting Muslim women, she stitched together Urban Modesty in 2013 after she took an entrepreneurial business class.
Now, she designs the pieces herself before sending patterns to China for production.
Moustafa hit the market with eight designs, but now offers more than 70 tops, bottoms, dresses, gowns, and cover-ups — in addition to kids’ digs and jewelry.
Her brand spread first by friends and family, with New Yorkers forming the biggest buyers. Yet, frequent trips to Islamic conventions outside the city have helped spread the word nationally.
She recently made progress in the Great White North during a showcase in Toronto, she said.
“We walked in with six laundry bags full of clothes and walked out with one half-full,” she said.
Sent From God
Shoppers praised the new fashion line as sent from God.
“I saw those long dresses that I do not see in stores, I always felt I should have a piece like that in my closet, but I did not know how to get it,” said Abeer Assad, one shopper who picked up some threads at the Arab American Bazaar in Bay Ridge last weekend.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Modesty and religion are the cornerstones behind the fast-growing Islamic fashion industry, which is making a mark on runways from Indonesia and Dubai to Monte Carlo.
Islamic fashion is part of a growing appetite for Shari`ah-related industries and assets, ranging from finance to halal food.
High-end brands such as Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan New York, as well as high street stores like Zara and Uniqlo, are known for releasing Ramadan or `Eid collections in countries with large Muslim population.
Indonesia is the fifth biggest market for Muslim fashion, after Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, China, India and Turkey are the three biggest exporters of Muslim fashion.
Experts predict the industry to grow to more than $300 billion dollars by 2019.