Another Mainstream American Retailer Tackles Inclusivity Head On

Early Tuesday morning, Banana Republic delighted Muslim women around the world with the drop of their latest hijab collection. Featuring four different colors and prints, Banana Republic’s hijabs are sure to be wardrobe staples for every hijabi, particularly with Eid-ul-Adha right around the corner. Aiming to “offer classic designs with a modern twist,” the classy retailer has certainly hit the mark with this one.

Hijabis can choose from leopard print, millennial pink, midnight blue, and florals galore. The hijabs are depicted in various styles, with one photo depicting the model wearing an intricate turban wrap, while another photo shows it thrown casually over her shoulder. With this little touch, not only has Banana Republic made a progressive step into the vast sea of inclusivity, but they’ve done so with their trademark fashionable flair.

Banana Republic originated over forty years ago, with a focus on safari styles made for the outdoor adventurer. They have since adapted to the ever-changing fashion climate, expanding into workwear classics, and now, contemporary Muslim women’s apparel. Over the past few years, the chic retailer has slowly drifted into the realms of modest fashion suited to Muslim women who choose to dress modestly, adding maxi dresses, skirts, and longer blazers to their repertoire. However, this hijab release is an even greater step, with many implications. This move signifies a united front and solid backing of the Muslim community. For many hijabis, this gesture of inclusivity rouses feelings of comfort in a time where the hijab is often shamed rather than celebrated.

As a direct comparison, trendy teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch denied a young Muslim woman a job opportunity due to her decision to wear the headscarf. A symbol of beauty and purity for Muslim women, the hijab seems to have unfortunately become a divisive issue and a battleground between those who choose the path of discrimination, versus those who choose to offer the warm embrace of acceptance. The question then arises — is Banana Republic’s initiative a paradigm shift towards normalizing and accepting the headscarf in today’s society?

To put it simply, retailers are finally realizing that Muslim women are normal people —people who go to the gym, work outside the home — who are just as part of society as anyone else.

With the advent of the Nike Pro Hijab, for example, Nike ensured fashionable coverage for the active Muslim woman. Banana Republic’s hijab release ascertains that the professional Muslim woman looks elegant and stylish. To put it simply, retailers are finally realizing that Muslim women are normal people — people who go to the gym, work outside the home — who are just as part of society as anyone else. The United States was founded upon ideals of religious and individual freedom, as well as diversity. Alas, retailers may finally be understanding what that truly means!

Through the assimilation of the hijab into American culture by means of retail, young hijabis will now feel a sense of acceptance by the community at large. Hijab is certainly not an easy venture for impressionable young Muslim women during a time where modesty is synonymous with frumpiness rather than elegance and grace. In today’s Western culture, it sometimes feels as though beauty has become associated with a lack of clothing, but hijab demonstrates that it can be quite the contrary. This initiative by Banana Republic paves the way for young Muslim girls to feel pride rather than embarrassment over who they are as individuals.

It will also allow those of other faiths to gain a deeper insight and understanding into the Islamic faith, overcoming barriers of fear and discomfort. Banana Republic has catalyzed potential conversations regarding Islamic practices, and sparked greater societal awareness overall. No longer is hijab a thing of the past, but a wave of the future.