by Janan Zaitoun
Faten Ramadan is the founder and designer of Fetoun—the latest no-pin headscarf for Muslim women. She designed a revolutionary head piece, which includes 27 parts as opposed to the one-piece under scarf sold in the Islamic fashion market. Ramadan calls her product a Hijat with a T as opposed to the common Hijab with a B. While a one-piece under scarf is sold for $3, Fetoun’s no-pin Hijat is sold for a minimum of $38. Is the creativity behind the no-pin Hijat worth the switch from the simple under scarf?
Only recently has Islamic fashion taken a sharp turn to modern styles, and yet maintaining its modest signature. Ramadan spent the last three years creating her Hijats. In 2000, Shukr, a new Islamic fashion brand was created. It focuses on designing conservative full length dresses for young women with a contemporary look. Silk Route, another Islamic designer brand, was established in 2006. Before the two latter rival brands, Islamic fashion was “grandmotherly-like”, as Tabassum Sedqui, Shukr’s designer, describes it. Creativity and modesty are finally walking hand in hand, and that’s how it should be.
“I am selling comfort,” said Ramadan standing behind her booth in a bazaar during the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) regional convention in Connecticut on 22 March 2014. “95% of the women who try it [Hijat] end up buying it.”
Ramadan emphasizes the features which make her Hijat unique: no-pins are required to wrap the headscarf, its comfort lays in its light weight on the head, and it is a total makeover to the common headscarf.
“I love my Hijat. I bought the FH853. My hair is very hard to tuck into under-scarves, “ said a review on Fetoun.com by Amy R. “But since the 853 is open on top, I easily pulled it down around my neck and then pulled it back up, holding up my hair. It felt so much better than wearing my hair in a ponytail or bun.”
When I visited Ramadan’s booth during ICNA’s regional convention, she had me step into a tent she set us as a changing room. She had three chairs and three mirrors hanging in the ventilated khaki tent. She asked me to take my headscarf off and undo my bun. She then took three head measurements. First, she took the measurement of my head circumference, second, she extended the measuring tape from my right ear to the left, and third, she took the measurement of my back profile to measure the amount of hair I have.
Ramadan stepped out and came back a few moments later with a dark blue Hijat. She put it on my head and asked me how it felt. I usually need to use a pin to adjust the size of the under-scarf I wear, but the Hijat she put on felt like it was custom made for my head. After that, she gave me a tutorial on different ways to wrap a colorful shawl around the Hijat, by simply pushing the piece of fabric twice through a sewed in loop and securing it with an attached clip. When she was done, I hardly felt like I had anything on my head, and my hair was free from a tight ponytail or bun.
The only concern I had was its cost. Thirty eight dollars is certainly not within my budget. I’m used to buying an under scarf for three dollars. I will at least need four different colored Hijats to go with all my shawls. That’s $140 more than if I were to buy four regular under scarves.
“The only way to drop the price on all styles permanently is to manufacture it in low cost (slave) labor countries,” said Ramadan. But that is against her principles. Selling it in large volumes is another way to reduce consumer prices, Ramadan suggests. Let’s not forget, sponsoring Ramadan’s initiative to revolutionize the headscarf will not only help make Hijats more affordable, but will also encourage Ramadan to continue finding cheaper innovative ways to design her product.
Put price tags on the side, the Islamic fashion market is in need for more daring designers to take up the challenge of envisioning creativity within modesty. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, encourages Muslims to take care of their outer appearance as well as their inner selves. As a Muslim woman living in America, I am constantly playing the role of an ambassador for Islam. Looking the part is as important as playing it. Leaving a beautiful impression through a fashionable and respectable wardrobe is a vital first step to diminishing the false stereotypes the media has spread about Islam.