Friday, 9 November 2012

Hijab Style Needs YOU (again)!

Two and a half years ago, I asked Hijab Style readers to share their opinions on the modest/Islamic clothing industry for a blog post I wrote here. Since then, the number and variety of businesses catering to Muslim women has certainly increased, but are they addressing their customers' needs?

Hijab Style wants to find out your opinions for an update article on the following topics:

1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?
2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?
3. What do you think is missing?
4. What do you think businesses need to improve? Is it the products themselves? Or perhaps customer service, shipping or any other aspect?

The reason for doing this is simple; unless businesses know what their customers are looking for, they won't be able to cater for their needs. So make your opinion heard and hopefully things will change for the better! Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below; and don't forget to mention what part of the world you live in!


Anonymous said...

I don't really shop online for hijabs n stuff like that because they usually really expensive ...But I do shop online every once in a while :)

redhum said...

1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?

No, too expensive and they are not anything I'd wear daily or for work.

2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?


3. What do you think is missing?

More casual and work based attire at reasonable prices.

4. What do you think businesses need to improve? Is it the products themselves? Or perhaps customer service, shipping or any other aspect?

Definitely prices and a variety of clothes.

I'm based in the UK.

quadria said...

Oh how I love this topic!!
So I do not buy from modest "hijab" friendly clothes. This is because first of all they are way over priced. Second I can find similar items that need a few adjustments in a retail store such as Forever 21. There really is no reason to buy from these designers when I can find something similar for less. For example Maxi skirts/ dresses were all the rage this season and its till going strong. bought a whole bunch. Now when I see a company such as Haute HIjab or Zeena selling maxi skirts for $50+ im not going to buy it from there. It also depends on your style. Some things you can work with and others its harder. But living and growing up here I have adapted to wearing clothes bought from regular retailers modestly.
These designers need to come up with something that is different and cant be found else where. that is when I will buy from them.

Anonymous said...

salaams first time im leaving comment :) lol


1) i do but very rarely as they are too pricy sometimes.
2)some are ok but some designs u can hardly wear evyrday or to work.
3)companies should realistically design things that one can wear on a day to day basis. fair enough designs are beautiful but they gotta be practical for working women. :)
4) id say the price lol

and im from the uk :)

Sishi Semet said...


I'm Sishi living in Indonesia.

I rarely buy any modest clothing both online and offline simply because of its designs and materials.

Indonesia has many talented local designers, including in modest wear. however, i often feel uncomfortable with the materials and proportion/form of the clothes. Sometimes I think they are not using the good fabric as the suppose to and the design often seems bulky and fussy. But maybe its just about taste or preference. :)

Anonymous said...

- i recently started wearing hijab and to be honest I have really struggled in finding modest,fashionable clothing. Like everyone else I do think specialised shops/websites are too pricey.

- I also think shops/websites that are available are not very well advertised.I am based in UK and its difficult finding these things if you have never looked for them.

Marium said...

A/A first of all I have to say I absolutely love your blog. Always gives me inspiration :)

The problem with hijab and modest clothing shops is that as well as being too expensive they do not provide enough variety.

All that seems to be available is bright kaftans/abayas. As beautiful as those clothes are, they are hardly appropriate wear for a professional meeting,university wear or even a day time lunch. Most of the time the styles, colours and embroidery are more suitable for an evening event. Also if there is something useful available e.g. sleeves, there are only few colours. I can't wear black or white sleeves with everything!!

The pricing is a huge issue. The websites aren't recognizing their target market- educated,savvy Muslim woman. Most of these women are well traveled and have been to their home countries. They know that a pashmina should not be costing £6.50 when they can buy 3 of these from say Dubai or Pakistan.OR a nice printed cotton hijab for £8 when they can get almost the same thing for £3 from primark!!

Hope it helps and this gap in the market is filled.


Gail said...

Assalaam waliekum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu for Chattanooga, Tennessee in the USA.
1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?
Nope, I always want to see the product in person. I want to see the aspects of the cloth in person.

2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?
Not really, since Muslim shops here don't sell Islamic clothes (except for old cheesy over-priced abayahs) and I'm plus sized, I sew my own stuff. That's so I get what I want. Now insha'allah I have the money and a seller with good stuff, I will be more than happy to support a "good" Muslim business.

3. What do you think is missing?
A sense of modesty and common sense. The modesty part is to me, the Islamic clothes companies wanting to be like the Western clothes industry. The common sense is that the Islamic clothes companies don't stand up to the quality of their products versus the money. I feel alike of times, they want to shower their customers in cheap, gaudy crap so their can make money. Not every Muslimah wants to dress like a runway model when she goes to pray. My rule is: It's a great outfit when you can pray in it without covering up stuff and worrying about it getting messed up.

4. What do you think businesses need to improve?
Yeah, more variety in sizes and actually caring for their customers.

Is it the products themselves?
Yeah, there's more to an abaya than the Eids. Muslimahs would probably wear Islamic clothes more insha'allah the products were more available and mostly affordable.

Or perhaps customer service, shipping or any other aspect?
I blame the customers themselves for the lack of Islamic clothes businesses in some communities. The businesses are just catering to their groups and they are not going to change until the people who keep them in business speak up.
Some Muslimahs would rather have a Gucci purse, live in a mansion, drive a Benz, spend a king's ransom on "halal" meat(being frank, zibihah meat)and wear stuff that is too tight or too short for Islamic clothes. Then they cry about how they can't find good Islamic clothing.
Plus there are sisters who sew very well and most Muslimahs rather run to non-Muslim stores for their Islamic clothes instead of pulling up their big girl panties and getting something made by Muslimah, for a Muslimah.

And Allah SWT Knows Best.

Anonymous said...

Assalyamu aleikum
1. I don't buy clothes online for several reasons, fist of all, as I live in Ukraine, shipping will cost me a fortune plus clothes itself aren't cheap, then some shops don't even deliver in Ukraine, but I see why...
2. I like a lot of clothes online, now there are a lot of offers, but as I've mentioned before it is usually expensive.
3. Cheap clothes, I know that many companies just spend a lot on fabric, so they can't afford put a low price on them, but maybe somebody would prefer not so perfect fabric to a pricy one.
4. Shipping, post offices in my country take much plus shipping of the site, it is just too much.
Anastasiia, from Ukraine

Muslimah Delights said...

1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?

No, as they are usually expensive and do not have a wide size range (eg one only had kaftans suitable for sizes 6-10)

2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?

There seems to be more than say a few years ago...but I still buy most of my clothes from mainstream shops.

3. What do you think is missing?

Clothes that are affordable, in good/comfortable fabrics and that you can team up with other items in your wardrobe.

4. What do you think businesses need to improve? Is it the products themselves? Or perhaps customer service, shipping or any other aspect?

The products available, there should be clothing to suit different sizes (1.e. petite), the prices and shipping/p&p are extortionate.

Abida Muttaqiena said...


I live in Indonesia, and here what I think of the topics above:

1. I’ve never bought any clothes from online shop, be it modest or regular ones. There are two reasons: first, anything I can buy online, I can buy offline too in approximately the same price, but without the delivery/shipping cost. Second, if there is a unique design or style that I want to have (from online shop), I could just find similar fabrics and ask a seamstress to make it (the price of fabrics + seamstress fee is not cheaper than shop-bought dresses, but it can be tailored to exactly my size).

2. I can see that there are not many kinds of designs offered, mostly just abaya and exclusive headscarves. And even among the few are not always suitable with my sense of style, there are clingy fabrics and unsuitable designs, then abayas that are too glam or on the opposite, too glum. That was disappointing.

3. There is too much special-occasion clothing, and I rarely see working suits or casual clothing. I understand that maybe potential customers prefer to go to regular retailers for those, but…well, sometimes our needs can’t be fulfilled by them.

4. I agree with other sister’s comments; they need to improve the variety of their products, more working suits, casual clothing, etc. However, I doubt that they could provide them in a competitive price compared with regular retailers. Because of that, I think they also need some improvement on marketing; less about what they sell, but more about what could be made uniquely by those who visit their sites. I remember a long time ago my Qur’an teacher taught us handcrafts once a month or so as interludes; we made mini brooch, simple calligraphy, modifying immodest clothes, and such. It’s so refreshing. When I visit modest clothing online shop now, I just check the trends and designs, then out. They’re too uninteresting for anything else and too expensive for monthly shopping, I doubt if someone who didn’t specifically looking for special occasion clothing will visit them. They don’t even mention on how to wear hijab (elegant? casual? for party? turkish style? indonesian style?). If they combine their sites with a little bit extra content like handicrafts or tips, then I believe they’ll get more visitors (potential customers). In addition, maybe they have to be more creative with classic designs, like wide leg jeans, loose-fitting vest, long skirt overalls, long pleated skirt, and…well, you get the idea. Instead of just making abayas/caftans or following catwalk trends.

That’s my opinions. I’m sorry if my English’s a little bit confusing…

Nancy Hoque said...

Thank you Jana for this forum and for everyone for their comments. It is very helpful! The trouble modest clothing sites face is that they start out as small boutique online shops catering to a very niche market, which is spread geographically all over the globe. The costs for operating end up being pretty high, making it difficult for us to compete with mainstream retailers who can produce in bulk at low prices. Inshallah with time the modest clothing fashion industry will mature and the audience will grow, so that both sides can reach a good medium. <3 Nancy Hoque, Creative Director of

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to find modest clothes in cotton, linen, silk, bamboo/ other natural garments that breathes! And I think it´s important to dress in clothes that really breathes when covering up most of ones body. High shipping costs are also a problem, even within Europe.

I live in Scandinavia (Northern Europe for those who might not know)

Melissa said...

1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?

Yes I do, because they are designed with Muslimah's in mind (for the most part) and are going to cover better than forever21 which caters to young trendy girls. I also like the styles that online Islamic companies make, or I wouldn't buy them. I can sew and have started to make my own clothes recently, so I haven't been buying clothes for a while, though the clothes I have gotten from the online companies I bought from are quality pieces that don't fall apart, the saying is true, you get what you pay for.

2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?

Mostly yes. Though I think some Islamic clothing designers have some rather odd designs, or they're too tight, or overly decorated for my taste.

3. What do you think is missing?

More natural fiber clothing. There's one online Islamic clothing company that sells clothes only in natural fibers, but I'd like to see other designers making things in natural fibers. Or a blend so you don't have to spend too much time ironing, while I love natural fibers having to iron them all takes up a lot of time.

4. What do you think businesses need to improve?
Is it the products themselves?
Or perhaps customer service, shipping or any other aspect?

Businesses always need to be on top of their customer service.
Shipping, well, it's not free and it costs money to ship things, it also costs money to buy the shipping supplies, I think people forget this. But I would love to buy from a company in the UK but the shipping is nearly as much as the clothes...I wish they offered a lower cost shipping option for international, but I understand why they don't (no tracking).

There were some new online hijab shops this year and their websites were really awful and designed poorly, very difficult to navigate. Companies need to make sure their websites are user friendly and not in bright neon flashy colors that make you blind to try to see what they're offering.
Also they need to use their own pictures for their products, especially if they're getting them from the same supplier as other shops. And make sure people can see the item clearly.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy from modest clothing companies, because honestly I have no desire to look like a christmas tree. Most of the designs are so over the top it is bordering the distasteful.

Most of us who live in the west, work, go to school etc. And we need day time wear which is not so ostentatious.

I think there is a huge market for well made timeless pieces. We need designs in flattering silhoutte's and instead of adding tons and tons of embellishments, let the quality of the fabric or the craftsmanship of the cut do the talking.

We need more simple well made subdued silhouttes, in natural fabrics such as wool, silk etc.

I rather pay for quality garments which I can keep for the next 5 years rather than something which falls apart after a few wears.
I think quality modern fashion is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

I agree with previous commenter: there is a real need for quality basic clothing for working women. The clothes should come in a wide range of sizes (including plus sizes) and be appropriate for adult women, not just teen girls. Good quality fabrics and colors appropriate for business wear. The price does not need to compete with prices of cheap chain stores that sell poor quality sweatshop-made clothing, but the price-quality ratio should be decent. No gaudy prints, cheap polyester or lots of embellishments.
As far as I know, at this time not one Islamic online company keeps basic workwear styles in stock at all times.


Girl who likes jackets :) said...

I'm from Africa :)

1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?


2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?


3. What do you think is missing?

a) Flexible shipping options. Sometimes I just want to order a single hijab and don't require the faster courier service. So I would be quite happy to pay less shipping costs for a small item and it doesn't matter if it takes a few weeks for the order to arrive. That said, I don't have a problem paying the courier shipping costs if my order is larger and if I would like to receive it within a week.
b) More natural fibre clothing options. Only one major online store stocks it currently. I've got quite few of their abayas. Would like other stores to bring out wide-legged trousers/palazzo pants and maxi dresses in linen/cotton/viscose blends.

4. What do you think businesses need to improve?
Is it the products themselves?
Or perhaps customer service, shipping or any other aspect?

I've received excellent customer service form all the stores that I've bought from, be it the small FB store that is just starting up, to the well established, higher priced stores. I've ordered across the budget range and can't complain. I know what to expect when ordering - if it's cheaply priced, the item can only get so much wear from it. If the item is more expensive, it generally has better stitching quality and design finishing. If there was a glitch with the product, cheap or expensive, the online stores have always responded appropriately to my emails.

Some online stores could improve on the zoom feature on their websites. It's nice to have a close-up view of the garment.

As to the availability of designs, I don't have a problem. There is such a variety of styles to suit each individual's personal taste, I don't understand why some Sisters complain. If you don't like it, don't buy it. If the design was not popular, sales will not occur and the store won't re-stock the item.

As for the online store pricing. Some things are expensive, some is not. Pricing is relative e.g. I would like to own a pair of those black Christian Louboutin heels with the red soles and there are a few Calvin Klein maxi styled dresses that are simply modestly beautiful. But, these designer prices are not for me. I don't complain about it. I buy what I can afford and I am grateful for it. I say Alhamduliah for those Sisters who can afford what I can not. I'm happy for them :) So for any Sisters wearing those red soled Louboutin shoes, enjoy wearing them!

UmmSultana said...

Asalamu Alaykum
My name is Nafiza aka Ummsultana. Author for Lifestyle of a Furiously Fab Muslim blog and business owner.

1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?
Very rarely. Only a few times a year. I purchase from online modest companies rarely because they do not fit my tastes. Every day wear is more appealing when it is versatile and simple, this way I can utilize it for years in my wardrobe. I do not mind spending more money for these pieces but I find that taste and quality of fabric are my biggest concerns. Also, I purchased an abaya from a well-known company. The shipping was 70 dollars and when I received the dress it was in a fabric that easily stains and it was not the right color as advertised. See article here
I feel inclined to purchase the more simple, high quality, and affordable the garment is.
2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?
Yes and no. If I want to buy a long sleeve modest dress I will go straight online for one. There are a lot of beautiful options all over the place for that particular item but other items there is a severe low supply from modest retailers
3. What do you think is missing?
I have done a lot of research and I think simple modest skirts are hard to find and modest shirts are as well. Everything being offered is too overdesigned for my taste and I try to purchase long sleeve dresses from a regular online retailer that I use as shirts instead. By the way, I am spending 30-60 dollars on these items because the company is reliable and shipping is hassle free. I have always received high quality items from them, so I often go back to check out their stock.
4. What do you think businesses need to improve?
Everything! A lot of these modest retailers should take a business class or two as they have not prepared to do what they are doing. We are supposed to strive for perfection for everything we do as Muslims and poor planning will lead to failure. I think the intention should be about benefitting the community not seeking profits first of all. I also think business owners should start working with each other as well so they can grow their businesses.
I think shipping should be improved upon and product descriptions. Stop posting hijabs without measurements, without it being on a model so I can see how it drapes. Stop posting dresses without showing us detailed shots and explaining what those details are made out of.

Anne Isaac said...


I have found this forum most useful and thank you for putting this up. I have long grappled with not understanding why to wear modest clothing I had to break the bank. Are beautiful modest clothing available? Absolutely! Has anyone seen the beautiful clothes at aab, or shukr? absolutely muslim designers are very talented indeed mashaAllah. However I still found it hard to find affordable modest clothing. So guess what? I decided to try and design, source and make my own label, thinking this is easy...even though I have lovely family friends in places like Morocco who have always been designers and tailor brilliantly, I quickly realised a fundamental flaw to all this. One big point that I feel all my lovely sisters need to note is that mass production = cheap prices. What is mass production? If we're talking numbers manfacturers want at least 500 dresses/abayas of the same colour and design to produce them at 'cheap' prices (bearing in mind, more fabric means a higher unit cost anyway). This coupled with import tax and VAT on garments which accounts for a 40% bump in the price...I think you get the picture. Why not produce in the UK? I hear you ask...because despite all those costs, clothing manufacture in the UK is not a huge trade as it's actually still more expensive than importing. For a niche market like modest clothing its impossible to produce clothing as cheap as primark as there is simply not enough demand. I had to tailor my own designs and then have them made in small quantities, and import where I can.
If we give you something cheaper, it means we have to compromise on quality of fabrics to maintain a lower price.
Bear in mind also that running an internet business is definately not cheap, look into it, you will be surprised, these overheads are crippling more so when demand is relatively low. I hope this sheds some light on this issue for sisters. Keep us in your duas, we are trying I promise.x

Michelle Therese said...

1. Do you buy from online modest clothing companies? And if not, why not?

Yes, I do! I live in a small rural community on an island where clothing of any kind is limited and hard to come by. I am tall, I am also plus-size. This also makes it hard to find clothing of any variety, let alone modest clothing! And even if you go on-line to plus size clothing sites, they are quite immodest. Skin tight, low cut... So I am a frequent shopper at on line modest clothing shops.

2. Are you happy with the range of clothing and designs offered?

Not particularly. There are not enough "every day" styles made from informal fabrics, such as jersey knits, corduroy, "sweater" knits, etc. The styles tend to be mostly satiny polyesters, very fancy, full of flashy embroidery, sequins and such. This does not fit into the average Western lifestyle, work, play, out shopping. Going to school. Socializing. We don't wear these kinds of fancy flashy outfits except when going to a party.

3. What do you think is missing?

Styles and fabrics that reflect our Western culture, materials that are suitable for colder northern climates. Cuts of abaya, jilbab, and dresses that reflect our Western styles of dresses. Think, "Regency style" and other such classics that could be worked into Abaya etc.

4. What do you think businesses need to improve? Is it the products themselves? Or perhaps customer service, shipping or any other aspect?

I think that modest clothing businesses should diversify their styles and fabrics, as stated above. That would really open the door for women living in the West to purchase deeply modest clothing that does not make us feel like we don't fit in with our environment, our surroundings, and other women around us.

I am American and I live in Scotland. :-)

Michelle Therese said...

P.S. I see a lot of people sharing my opinions about the overly flashy styles offered at most modest clothing companies.

I would like to share a company that I really enjoy, who seems to be testing out Western styles and fabrics:

The company "East Essence" offers quite good quality items at decent prices. I've ordered from them for years so most of their items are well worth the price.

I did stop ordering from them for a while because of the "I look like a Christmas tree" issue, I ended up giving a lot of my abaya to a charity shop in the end.

BUT! There's hope: East Essence has recently begun offering a limited selection of styles and fabrics that reflect the styles and fabrics that we enjoy here in the West. They still tend to lean towards black, grey, or REALLY BRIGHT ... but I bet if more and more of us were to contact them and request that they continue to offer more styles and fabrics **and** colours that fit in with the Western culture, I bet they would do just that.

I wrote to them, if anyone else writes to them, be specific. Tell which styles you would like to see, which colours. Tell exactly what you don't enjoy: the flashy embellishments, the sleek polyester party material, the bright colours, etc.

They have fantastic customer service and I think they would be quite willing to tune in to the requests of their Western customers.


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