Friday, 17 December 2010
Hijab Style Exclusive: Haute Hijab Interview
Today Hijab Style brings you an exclusive interview with Melanie Elturk, CEO of Haute Hijab, a new modest clothing company based in the USA. Read on to find out more about the creative talent behind the brand:
Jana: Tell us a little about yourself?
Melanie: I'm 25, my father is Lebanese and my mother is Filipino. I'm originally from Detroit, Michigan. By profession, I am an attorney - I concentrated on Civil Rights all through law school and practiced it in and out of law school. Last November I got married and moved to Chicago where my husband is from.
Jana: How did you come to start Haute Hijab?
Melanie: I've always been very fashion conscious (it's actually somewhat of a vice of mine), but now I'm trying to channel my passion for fashion into something that can be useful - providing modest yet fashionable options for Muslim women.
Fashion for me was something I could never knock - it was always with me, no matter how much du'a I made for Allah (swt) to make me less fashion-conscious. I started wearing hijab when I was 13 in the 9th grade - and quickly realized how hard it is for a Muslim woman to dress fashionably and modestly at the same time. It was then I started making my own clothes. I made skirts and loose fitting pants on my grandma's old sewing machine. I was also heavily into beading and embroidery. I would stay awake for hours putting different outfits together and creating new ways to accessorize. Throughout law school I never stopped sewing and creating.
I've always had a dream of becoming a fashion designer and making clothes for a living. I never dreamed it would one day become a reality. The truth of the matter is, through my husband, resources were available to me that made it possible to make Haute Hijab a reality. He works for an internet marketing firm, and consequently has both business and IT skills that make him the brains behind this entire operation. He's helped me tremendously in making this all happen, and I know this wouldn't be a reality without him. After deciding that my niche market would be Muslim women who are in desperate need of fashionable clothing that is still modest, and discussing the parameters and how we would make it all happen, Haute Hijab was born in April 2010.
Jana: What style and types of clothing are you looking to provide through Haute Hijab?
Melanie: The clothing to be provided is a line of modest yet fashionable clothing geared toward women aged 18-34. We aim to provide hard to find pieces like skirts, long dresses and more options for the woman who wears hijab. We've gotten a lot of great feedback from our fan base on our Facebook page and they're very vocal about the types of clothing they want to see. The style of the clothing tends to be on the classier, elegant side with feminine touches. I want the clothes to be classic investment pieces that will stay with the customer for a long time. I want to stay away from trends and throwaway pieces after a season or two.
There are pieces in the line for everyday wear, career and formal wear. For the first line we have to be practical and provide more practical everyday pieces including skirts, blouses, casual dresses, and layering tops. We also plan to launch with vintage hijabs, handpicked by me from vintage stores across the country.
Jana: Which places, people and things have inspired your designs?
Melanie: I'm inspired by almost everything. I especially connect with vintage designs, and seeing that the line is modest yet fashionable, I've found myself drawn to the womanly shapes and silhouettes of the 40's and 50's - the high waisted volume skirts, long straight skirts, ball skirts, long sleeved full length dresses, crisp white dress shirts, etc. I've always been partial to more polished, sharp and preppier styles, but with an edge. Ralph Lauren/Carolina Herrera/Kate Spade meets Valentino/Alexander McQueen.
Jana: What has been the biggest challenge you've faced so far in setting up your brand?
Melanie: The biggest challenge has been finding the right balance between modesty and fashion. As a devout Muslim who has this attachment to fashion, I find myself struggling to please everyone - from those most conservative to those more liberal. There will always be people who comment on pictures on our facebook fanpage that things are too tight here, or not modest enough there - and then there are those who consider the clothing too modest or not fashionable enough. I now trust my instincts, as someone who has worn hijab for over ten years now, I consider myself to understand the balance between modesty and fashion, and I know when I'm NOT dressing modestly. I know that I can't please everyone and can only do me and design clothes that I would feel comfortable wearing.
Jana: When and where can we purchase your designs?
Melanie: The clothing line and vintage hijabs can be purchased online on our website, http://www.hautehijab.com/. We have recently launched with just the vintage hijabs, and we are in the production phase of the Spring 2011 clothing line to be launched hopefully early next year. I'll keep you updated on that exact date!