Banana Republic is among a small growing segment of mainstream fashion brands catering to the Muslim population.
With Eid-ul-Adha just around the corner, the time was just right for Banana Republic to launch a collection of hijabs, head scarves worn by many Muslim women as an article of their faith. The small collection comprising four different hijab styles and colors to choose from, was immediately seen as a mark of inclusion to a large Muslim population in the United States.
It becomes especially significant at a time, when discussions on “us,” “ and “you” and rhetoric like “go back to your country” have been in the news directed towards those who may be dressing “different,” or belonging to “another” faith or culture.
The brand also featured a model of color, Fatuma Yusuf, to showcase its newest offerings. While Muslim women and many inclusion activists were elated at the move, there were others who also saw cultural appropriation.
Some observers of hijab pointed out that in one shot the model was wearing a short sleeved t-shirt along with a hijab and in another she is wearing a slit skirt while covering her head with a hijab. Some have pointed out that the head covering should also be accompanied with modest dressing, blaming the blooper on cultural misappropriation, a blame that has often been leveled against western brands for their limited or lack of understanding of other faiths and cultures.
However, many hijabis are celebrating the new choices that they can now opt from. Among the designs offered are a turban wrap hijab, popularized by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Another one is a pale pink more traditional headscarf style wrap. There are also prints such as floral and leopard style to choose from to suit those who may be looking for some fun twist to their hijabs.
The hijabs are retailed at $20 and $25. The move is largely being seen as a sign of inclusion and is being hailed as an example for other brands to follow.