Disclaimer: I pray that this blog post is not misconstrued as me ‘throwing shade at anyone’. It is merely based on an observation I had whilst scrolling through numerous modest dressing stores/designers on Instagram and the Internet as well as a conversation I had with some friends.
I recently partook in a conversation regarding the cost of modest clothing with a few university friends. One of whom remarked: “Why are these people selling hijabs (headscarves) and clothes for so expensive? I mean we’re coloured people; it’s not like we’re super rich!”
I decided to give her a platform to air those strong views on my blog. The writing in bold represent the views of Thameenah Abrahams:
You need to remember who you’re catering for. We can barely find modest clothing in the market – you’re filling that gap and making modest dressing more accessible. However with exorbitant prices it’s just hindering that goal.
Taking into account the fact that we live in a capitalist society, our needs as Muslim women are being exploited and when our concerns are made vocal, it’s policed with the fact that ‘you need to support local businesses! ‘
Yes I will. If that local business is fair. If the product I’m receiving, in exchange for my, my mother, or father’s hard earned money is actually worth that 1 metre Jersey knit fabric dress that you can often get from Hilite.
That being said, it’s not only the prices that’s the issue – but the actual product. To be honest, the clothes are made of the time its made out of inexpensive fabric that does not justify the prices.
If you look at it from a fashion merchandiser’s perspective, there needs to be some sort of quality control with regards to the production of clothes (even small scale production).
Modest designers need to ask themselves, or more so customers need to ask themselves when buying clothes: is this material long lasting and one of quality? Do I really want to spend R500 on this skirt? / do I want to charge R500 for this skirt?
That being said, I do take into account the challenges related to the craft of clothing.
Until modest designers hone onto the needs and wants of their clientele, I’ll be shopping at the department stores.
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It is noteworthy to realise that modest dressing is not supposed to be an exercise in elitism nor a status symbol – in my understanding. But recently, the commodification of hijab fashion has blown up. So much so, that mainstream designers are attempting to tap into that market.
However, what is shocking to me, are ordinary people who are overcharging ordinary people. If your market base are working and middle class women trying to simply dress with dignity and a bit of style, it is not necessary that you charge them large chunks of their salaries to do so.
I respect entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone if independence, and a big contributor to creating jobs and helping the economy. I also understand that designers use their business as a source of income. And in order to cover production and running costs, selling things at cost price just won’t cut it. What I don’t appreciate is profit mark-ups at what seems like 100%.
That being said, there are numerous bussinesswomen busting themselves at pop up stores every weekend and stalls in a bid to market and get their products out there. There are people who meticulously serve their clients the very best at the most reasonable prices. And for them, I am grateful.