Artizara in the New York Times April 5, 2007

Artizara was featured in a New York Times article April 5, 2007

Fashion & Style
We, Myself and I
Published: April 5, 2007
The demands of faith, family and Western culture test the fashion identities of Muslim women in the United States.We, Myself and I

FOR Aysha Hussain, getting dressed each day is a fraught negotiation. Ms. Hussain, a 24-year-old magazine writer in New York, is devoted to her pipe-stem Levi’s and determined to incorporate their brash modernity into her wardrobe while adhering to the tenets of her Muslim faith. “It’s still a struggle,” Ms. Hussain, a Pakistani-American, confided. “But I don’t think it’s impossible.”

Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
CULTURAL CROSSROAD Aysha Hussain, left, who tries to maintain a modern flavor in her daily attire, goes shopping for clothing in Astoria, Queens.

William Mebane for The New York Times
STYLE GUIDES Fatima Fazal, left, and Tam Naveed offer different takes on layering.
Ms. Hussain has worked out an artful compromise, concealing her curves under a mustard-tone cropped jacket and a tank top that is long enough to cover her hips.
Some of her Muslim sisters follow a more conservative path. Leena al-Arian, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, joined a women’s worship group last Saturday night. Her companions, who sat cross-legged on prayer mats in a cramped apartment in the Hyde Park neighborhood, were variously garbed in beaded tunics, harem-style trousers, gauzy veils and colorful pashminas. Ms. Arian herself wore a loose-fitting turquoise tunic over fluid jeans. She covered her hair, neck and shoulders with a brightly patterned hijab, the head scarf that is emblematic of the Islamic call to modesty.
Like many of her contemporaries who come from diverse social and cultural backgrounds and nations, Ms. Arian has devised a strategy to reconcile her faith with the dictates of fashion — a challenge by turns stimulating and frustrating and, for some of her peers, a constant point of tension.
Injecting fashion into a traditional Muslim wardrobe is “walking a fine line,” said Dilshad D. Ali, the Islam editor of, a Web site for spiritual seekers. A flash point for controversy is the hijab, which is viewed by some as a politically charged symbol of radical Islam and of female subjugation that invites reactions from curiosity to outright hostility.
In purely aesthetic terms, the devout must work to evolve a style that is attractive but not provocative, demure but not dour — friendly to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
“Some young women follow the letter of the rule,” Ms. Ali observed. Others are more flexible. “Maybe their shirts are tight. Maybe the scarf is not really covering their chest, and older Muslim women’s tongues will wag.”
The search for balance makes getting dressed “a really intentional, mindful event in our lives every day,” said Asra Nomani, the outspoken author of “Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam” (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005). Clothing is all the more significant, Ms. Nomani said, because what a Muslim woman chooses to wear “is a critical part of her identity.”
Many younger women seek proactively to shape that identity, adopting the hijab without pressure from family or friends, or from the Koran, which does not mandate covering the head.
“Family pressure is the exception, not the rule,” said Ausma Khan, the editor of Muslim Girl, a new magazine aimed at young women who, when it come to dress, “make their own personal choice.”
The decision can be difficult. Today few retailers cater to a growing American Muslim population that is variously estimated to be in the range of three to seven million. “Looking for clothes that are covering can be a real challenge when you go to a typical store,” Ms. Khan said.
Only a couple of years ago, Nordstrom conducted a fashion seminar at the Tysons Corner Center mall in McLean, Va., a magnet for affluent Muslim women in suburban Washington. The store sought to entice them with a profusion of head scarves, patterned blouses and subdued tailored pieces, but for the most part missed the nuances, said shoppers who attended the event. They were shown calf-length skirts and short-sleeve jackets of a type prohibited for the orthodox, who cover their legs and arms entirely.
“For me the biggest struggle is to find clothes in the department stores,” said Ms. Arian, who has worn the hijab since she was 13. She scours the Web and stores like Bebe, Zara, Express and H & M for skirts long enough to meet her standards. The majority, gathered through the hips, are “not very flattering on women with curves,” she said, chuckling ruefully, “and a lot of Middle Eastern women have curves.”
Maryah Qureshi, a graduate student in Chicago, has a similarly tricky time navigating conventional stores. “When we do find a sister-friendly item,” she said, “we tend to buy it in every color.”
Tam Naveed, a young freelance writer in New York, has devised an urbane uniform, tweed pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a snugly fastened scarf that dramatically sets off her features.
Ms. Nomani, the author, improvises her own head covering by wearing a hoodie or a baseball cap to mosque. “I call it ghetto hijab,” she said tartly. For everyday, she buys shirtdresses at the Gap. “They cover your backside, but they’re still the Gap. That kind of gives you a visa between the two worlds.”

Courtesy Muslim Girl magazine
A magazine layout offers ways to style the hijab.

Courtesy Muslim Girl magazine

Laura Pedrick for The New York Times
Brooke Samad, a designer who focuses on clothes for Muslim women, shows off a pink chiffon hip-tie skirt.
In its fashion pages, Muslim Girl addresses concerns about fashion by encouraging young readers to mix and match current designs from a variety of sources, and reinforces the message that religion and fashion need not be mutually exclusive.
“We are trying to keep our finger on the pulse of what women want,” Ms. Khan said. Fashion pages, shown alongside columns offering romantic advice and articles on saving the environment, are among the more popular for the magazine’s teenage readers, she said, adding that the magazine’s circulation of 50,000 is expected to double next year.
Aspiring style-setters also find inspiration on retail Web sites like, which offers a high-neck white lace shirtdress and a sleeveless wrap jumper; and, with its elasticized hijabs, which can be slipped over the head.
Some women seek out fashions from a handful of designers who cater to them. “I think people like me are starting to see that Muslim women make up a significant market and are expressing their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Brooke Samad, a 28-year-old Muslim woman who designs kimono-sleeve wrap coats and floor-length interpretations of the pencil skirt out of a guest room in her home in Highland Hills, N.J.
“We follow trends, but we do keep to our guidelines,” said Ms. Samad, whose label is called Marabo. “And we’re careful with the fabrics to make sure they aren’t too clingy.”
Today fashion itself is more in tune with the values of Islam, revealing styles having given way to a relatively modest layered look. Elena Kovyrzina, the creative director of Muslim Girl, pointed to of-the-moment runway designs, any one of which might be appropriate for the magazine’s fashion pages: a voluminous Ungaro blouse with a high neck and full, flowing sleeves; a billowing Marni coat discreetly belted at the waist; and a Prada satin turban. Among the more free-spirited looks Ms. Kovyrzina singled out was a DKNY long-sleeve shirt and man-tailored trousers, topped with a hair-concealing baseball cap.
There are Muslim women who choose to cover as part of a journey of self-discovery. In “Infidel” (Free Press, 2007), her memoir of rebellion, Ayaan Hirsi Ali recalls as a girl wearing a concealing long black robe. “It had a thrill to it,” Ms. Hirsi Ali writes, “a sensuous feeling. It made me feel powerful: underneath this screen lay a previously unsuspected but potentially lethal femininity. I was unique.”
But adopting the hijab also invites adversity. A survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations last year found that nearly half of Americans believe that Islam encourages the oppression of women. Referring to that survey, Ms. Hussain, the New York journalist, observed, “Many of these people think, ‘Oh, if a woman is covered, she must be oppressed.’ ”
Still, after 9/11, Ms. Hussain made a point of wearing the hijab. “Politically,” she said, “it lets people know you’re not trying to hide from them.”
Among the young, Ms. Nomani said, “there is a pressure to show your colors.”
“Young people aren’t empowered enough to change foreign policy,” she said, so they adopt a hybrid of modern and Muslim garb, which is “their way to say, ‘I’m Muslim and I’m proud.’ ”
Such bravado has its perils. Jenan Mohajir, a member of the prayer group near the University of Chicago, spoke with some bitterness about being waylaid as she traveled. Ms. Mohajir, who works with the Interfaith Youth Core, which promotes cooperation among religions, recalled an official at airport security telling her: “You might as well step aside. You have too many clothes on.”
What was she wearing? “Jeans, a tunic, sandals and a scarf.”
Ms. Hussain no longer covers her head but has adopted a look meant to play down misconceptions without compromising her piety. “Living in New York,” she said, “has made me want to experiment more with colors and in general to be more bold. I don’t want to scare people. I want them to say, ‘Wow!’ ”
She has noticed a like-minded tendency among her peers. “In the way that we present ourselves to the rest of the world, we are definitely lightening up.”

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Islamic Fashion

What’s in a dress? A person’s dress depicts who you are, what your tastes are, and what you stand for. What makes a Muslim woman distinctive is the modesty of her clothes, through which shines the inner beauty of the soul. The way a Muslim woman dresses, wearing modest clothing, often along with the head covering or the hijab, establishes her identity as a Muslim. She believes that her dressstands for the values she believes in, and the modesty of her clothes along with the dignity with which she carries herself, sets her apart and defines the way people perceive her.

At we take Modest Islamic Fashion very seriously as we believe that we are “global citizens” of this earth, where boundaries are disappearing and the world is truly becoming a melting pot of cultures.

The words Islamic Fashion, are multi-faceted and unique. If we research historical references to determine trends followed in the past, we find that Muslim dress varied greatly based upon the geographic region to which they belonged and was also influenced significantly by the culture of the region. However, irrespective of the era or geographic region Muslims belonged to, Islamic Fashion in years past had one thing in common: Modesty.

Whether it be the East, the West, the Far East, Europe or Africa, women are in tune with fashion. Socially conscious Muslim women of all backgrounds desire to be fashionable while maintaining their individual identities, and without compromising their values of modest dressing. It is this phenomenon that we call Islamic Fashion.  We at believe that it is possible for a woman to look chic and stylish while maintaining her Muslim identity. We believe that with the unique way a Muslim woman dresses, she can assert her individuality while at the same time assimilating beautifully into whatever world culture or community she is a part of. At we strive to keep up with the trends whether it be the new colors of the season or the latest cuts of dresses, but do not believe in following the trends slavishly. We modify current styles to conform to modest clothing norms and create our own brand of hip and trendy “Islamic Fashion”. Our design house works endless hours to find unique embellishments, often inspired by Islamic art, and to integrate those unique details into our Islamic Fashion collection. The result is styles that are truly unique, and say something about who you are. These are clothes that provide outstanding value for your money. Our modest tops, hijabs, long skirts and modest dresses are priced very competitively with what you would find (or not find!) at department stores. Compared to other online stores, our Islamic Fashions offer superior quality, more attractive styling and better value. Add to that the day-to-evening, casual-to-formal versatility of our styles and you will find that you will be reaching for your Artizara Islamic Fashions every day, year after year!

Clothing for Everybody

We believe that plus size women are an important and sizeable segment of the market which is often neglected. It is very hard for the plus size modest dresser to find styles that maintain a stylish and chic look. Therefore Artizara also offers plus size modest women’s clothing to our costumers. Our plus size clothing line includes a range of plus size tunic tops and plus size dresses. We carry sizes to 2XL in our long dresses and also carry plus size tunic tops to size 3XL in select styles. We also carry a selection of plus size modest long skirts and plus size modest jackets.

Like our vision, our clientele encompasses people of all faiths and backgrounds. Artizara modest women’s clothing is Christian clothing, LDS clothing, Jewish clothing, Islamic clothing and World Style Clothing. Just as modesty is a value that has no boundaries, the World Wide Web is a market that has no boundaries. So, it is not surprising that since its inception has grown and now ships to over 100 countries worldwide. We are deeply indebted and thankful to our customers who have placed their faith in us. We are here solely because of their support, and their faith in our modest women’s clothing.

Modest Yet Exceedingly Fashionable

Artizara was founded in 2004 to introduce to the market contemporary, western modest clothing with an eastern twist. Artizara pioneered products inspired by the rich artistic heritage of the East, integrating them with Western style to create- women’s “fusion” modest clothing.

Long Tops, Tunics and Jackets

At we design modest clothing for women and and modest clothing for girls. Our most popular products are long tops, tunics and jackets. At our first show, our range of long shirts, tunic tops and shirt jackets was completely sold out. We were thrilled! Since then mainstream department stores have also started carrying tunic tops and long shirts; however, where we stand out and excel is in our unique, original designs with eastern inspired embellishments, that never lose sight of the customer’s need to cover up modestly.

All our long shirts and tunic tops fall below the hip, have long sleeves, modest necklines and are made of non-revealing fabrics. The modest dresser can wear them with the confidence that she is preserving her sense of modesty while looking chic and stylish. Our range of long shirts and tunic tops includes embroidered tops, beaded tops, button down long shirts and shirt-dresses, embellished with accents like metallic rivets, leather ties, shells, crystal buttons, beads and embroidery. In designing these long shirts and tunic tops we keep in mind that these stylish yet wearable pieces are available to the modest dressing customer at an affordable price point and offer day-to-evening, casual-to-formal versatility. We keep our prices competitive by designing and manufacturing most of our products to exacting specifications from start to finish, and not reselling off the shelf styles.

Modest women’s clothing is not just our business, it is our passion. We cater to the style-conscious modest dressing woman who likes to follow the latest fashion trends but is not a slave to them, and above all, wants to preserve her values of modesty.

Modest Dresses

We also carrylong dresses, long skirts and pants that follow the standards of modesty and are expanding our line of modest formal dresses, and modest wedding and bridesmaids dresses. Artizara’s unique designs are inspired by the richness of eastern artistic heritage, interpreted in rich silk and brocade fabrics, fresh colors, fine embroidery, beading and sequin details to give you a garment that is truly unique.

Realizing that there was a real need in the market for fashionable modest dresses in longer lengths, Artizara introduced long dresses that are chic and fashionable, yet offer full body coverage and comply with the guidelines for modest dress. Our long dresses are fully lined and never have slits, yet enough room to move gracefully.

Modest Long Skirts

Artizara long skirts fall to the ankle or below and never have slits, yet are roomy enough to move comfortably. In line with today’s trends, we offer circle skirts, embroidered skirts, tie dye skirts and beaded skirts in a variety of styles. Our range includes a-line skirts, full skirts, and flare skirts. We are also offer long denim skirts that are hard to find without slits. At Artizara, we are always striving to provide new and exciting alternatives when it comes to modest dresses, long dresses and long skirts that are chic and affordable.

Style and Faith

The Value of Modesty

“Modesty is the conscience of the body,” said a famous philosopher. It is a beautiful ornament and a virtue that we guard. is the partnership of two friends who envision a world where modest women’s clothing is the epitome of elegance and “cool”. We believe that there is beauty in modest women’s clothing, and a woman can dress modestly and at the same time be stylish, elegant, chic, fashionable and in vogue.

The major monotheistic faiths practiced throughout the world share the concept of modesty and it is a value held dear by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.

Whether they are called Mary, Maria, Miriam or Maryam, modest dressing women of many faiths identify with the beautiful artistic depictions of the Virgin Mary in flowing robes, with her head modestly covered. Head covering is practiced in various ways by people of many faiths. The common denominator is the element of modesty. Keeping this common denominator of modest clothing across religions and cultures, we envision a world where people believe that they are alike in many more ways than they are different and modest dressing is an ideal that is shared.

In the Jewish faith the concept of Kedushah (sanctity), Taharah (purity), and Tznius (modesty) play an important role. Tznius and Kedushah must be observed in every aspect of Jewish life, including speech and thought, and certainly in dress. Jewish women wear Snoods to cover their heads in modesty and Muslim women wear Hijab also known as a head scarf. Christian nuns cover themselves with a Habit. A woman’s Snood, Hijab, or Habit is like her crown, and a modest dressing woman is akin to a pearl in a shell. We believe that modesty and modest women’s clothing is the citadel of beauty.

Artizara Islamic Clothing Collection


After extensive market research we introduced our exclusive Islamic clothing for women shirt collection. It features full sleeve long shirts and tunics in the season’s hottest styles and colors, with modestly tapered fits and longer lengths that hit below the hip. These modest long tops have beautiful embroidery details and side vents for ease of movement. For those desiring even longer lengths we introduced the Shirt Jacket, great as a top or layered as a jacket.

We especially selected easy care fabrics as we realized that many women looking for Islamic women’s clothing are professionals studying or working outside the home, and do not have a whole lot of spare time. We made sure that our no-wrinkle, no-fuss long shirts transition beautifully from day to evening, and from casual to formal settings. The modest shirts are classically styled to provide all-season, years of wear.

We made all our shirts available in at least six sizes from XS(4) to 2XL(14) as we realized that we don’t all have model proportions, and some of us may just like our clothes looser than others.


We realize how difficult it is to find quality Hijabs that coordinate with your Islamic clothing for women. Matching hijabs are available with most Artizara long tops and are manufactured keeping in mind the need for comfort, style, ease of care and great value. We custom dye-to-match many of our hijabs with our tunics and long shirts knowing that coordinated hijab truly pulls an outfit together and provides a polished look from head to toe. Beautiful coordinating hijabs in attractive colors are uplifting, and a refreshing alternative to the traditional black or neutral hijab that “works with everything” but never quite looks part of your outfit.


Long Skirts with no slits are just as hard to find as modest long shirts. Have you gone to a store and found a long skirt you absolutely loved, in the perfect length, only to discover the knee-high slit at the back? All our skirts are ankle length and never have slits, yet are designed with room enough to move. Most are fully lined long skirts, with gorgeous beading or embroidery details. Our feminine, flowing flare skirts, circle skirts, denim skirts, or formal skirts are often coordinated with our modest long shirts and make great mix n’ match pieces to dress up or down, day to evening. Six sizes are manufactured to fulfill everyone’s needs, many with the comfort of elastic or drawstring adjustable waistbands.

Formal Wear

Treat yourself to Islamic women’s clothing with our modest dresses and formal wear, featuring rich hand woven fabrics and sumptuous embroidery, to completely cover your body in style. Adorn yourself with the coordinating hijab, never added as an afterthought . . . but as an integral design element in the ensemble. Artizara modest dresses are ankle or floor length, fully lined and designed to give you years of wear. When shopping for your next formal dress, wedding dress, bridesmaids dress or graduation dress, check out what Artizara has designed for you.

What is Islamic Clothing – Part 2

Muslim Women’s Clothing in Medieval Times

A variety of garments were worn by Muslim women in ancient times. We can learn about historic Islamic dress through observation of aintings and a study of ancient texts. These images are for historical references only and not intended to offer an opinion on the appropriateness or permissibility of these dresses from a religious standpoint.

Arab Dress 4th to 6th Century

The History of Costume.

The History of Costume, by Braun & Schneider, � 1861-1880

Andalusian Dress from Muslim Spain

Maghribi queen listening to oud.

The entertainer playing the oud (a lute) is wearing a turban. The Magribi (North African) queen has her head covered with a crown but the female attendants’ heads are uncovered. In the back row there are two male servants. This is part of the love story of Bayad and Riyad. Bayad sings in front of the noble lady and her male & companions.

Hadith Bayad wa Riyad; Maghreb; 13th century; Vatican, Bibliotheque Apostolique; Ms. Ar 368, fol. 10r.

Veiled woman playing chess.

A veiled Berber woman in Andalusia (Muslim Spain) playing chess with another woman.

Image from The Book of Chess, Dice, and Board Games by Alfonso X El Sabio, dated 1283.

Women playing chess with henna on hands.

A woman playing chess with another woman. Both women have henna on their hands.

Image from The Book of Chess, Dice, and Board Games by Alfonso X El Sabio, dated 1283.

Women with robes over tight pants playing chess.

A woman in Andalusia with henna on her hands playing chess with another woman, wearing robes over tight pants.

Image from The Book of Chess, Dice, and Board Games by Alfonso X El Sabio, dated 1283.

Persian Women’s Dress

Women preparing for a funeral.

Persian women shown in preparation for a funeral at a home.

Painted by Shaykh Zadeh from a Khamsa of Nizami, 1494 in Herat.

Persian woman with body and head covering.

A Persian woman with pants covered with a robe and head and face covering.

From “Rustam saves Bizhan from the well” in Shah-nama (Firdawsi’s ‘Book of Kings’) by Ali b. Husayni Bahmani, Shiraz, 1330.

Turkish Dress

Turkish men and women sitting in different parts of a mosque.

Turkish women were veiled and separated from the men in this mosque scene. Topkapi collection Shaykh Baha’al-Din Veled preaching in Balkh Jami’ al-Siyar, 1600. Hazine.

The reknowned Muslim explorer Ibn Batutta visited Turkey in the 14th century and noted that the women did not veil themselves: “A remarkable thing which I saw in this country was the respect shown to women by the Turks, for they hold a more dignified position than the men. I saw also the wives of the merchants and common [men]. [Their faces are] visible for the Turkish women do not veil themselves. Sometimes a woman will be accompanied by her husband and anyone seeing him would take him for one of her servants.” [Gibb, p. 415 – 416]

African Dress

In Mali, West Africa, Ibn Battuta observed: “Their women are of surpassing beauty and are shown more respect than the men. These people are Muslims, punctilious (very exact, never late) in observing the hours of prayer, studying the books of law, and memorizing the Qur’an. Yet their women show no bashfulness before men and do not veil themselves, though they are assiduous (worked hard) in attending prayers. A ny man who wishes to marry one of them may do so but they do not travel with their husbands, and even if one desired to do so her family would not allow her to go.” [Dunn, The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, p. 300.]

Indian Mughal Dress

Mughal Queen

Mughal Queen.

Mughal nobleman with wife and servants.

Mughal Nobleman with wife and servants.

Part I – Islamic Clothing Guidelines

Part 1 of this article talks about Islamic clothing and related guidelines.

What is Islamic Clothing – Part 1

It is important to recognize that Islam is a faith and not a single monolithic culture. A diverse community of over 1.2 billion believers spans the globe. These Muslims live in all parts of the world, speak hundreds of languages, and come from a multitude of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Although Islam is commonly associated with the Middle East and the Arab World, fewer than 15% of Muslims are Arab. Over 50 countries have Muslim majority populations whereas minority Muslim groups are present in nearly every country on the globe. Therefore there is no single form of clothing that can be referred to as Islamic clothing.

Islamic Clothing Guidelines

The Islamic faith provides general dress guideline for both men and women based on the principles of modesty. These guidelines are interpreted in the light of the individual Muslim’s national or group identity, social status, cultural traditions, local materials, and climate. All these factors cast an influence on what the individual wears. When asked to visualize Islamic clothing, one may think of loose robes and turbans. The fact is that a long T-shirt & pair of jeans or a Western style business suit can also be Islamic clothing. In reality, any form of clothing can be Islamic clothing as long as it follows the guidelines of modesty.

The Qur’an instructs both women and men to be modest. Clothing should not be sheer or form fitting and should cover the entire body, with the exception of the hands and face. For Hadith or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) regarding clothing, please visit

For some, an integral part of Islamic clothing for women is a head covering called a hijab. But, this was not worn in all medieval Muslim societies. Whenever a woman entered a mosque, however, she would always have her head covered. This was also true of medieval Christian women entering a church. In some societies even the woman’s face was covered.

These traditions continue to be observed in many Muslim societies today. Islamic clothing, especially wearing the hijab, is an issue representative of their Muslim Identity for many Muslim women. On the other hand, wearing of the hijab (which means “head covering” or “veil”) is debated in some Muslim societies. In Turkey the hijab or head scarf is banned on some university campuses; this government policy has angered many conservative students.

Fabrics and Embellishments on Women’s Clothing

The most common fabrics available were cotton, wool, linen, camel hair, and silk. Cotton was a cool fabric. In winter or in cold environments, clothing was commonly made of wool. Camel hair was also woven into clothing for cold weather. Some clothing was made from plant fibers called linen. Silk was imported from China or Persia and was very expensive; only the rich could afford it.

Depending on their cultural background and socio-economic status, it was common for women’s clothing to be embellished with exquisite embroidery using gold & silver thread and precious & semi precious stones. Depiction of the human form was contradictory to religious beliefs. Therefore, much of Islamic art, including textiles, utilized floral and geometric patterns of great beauty and complexity. Quranic verses valued for their spiritual meaning and protective properties were often embroidered or painted onto clothing.

While the results from culture to culture varied, different fabrics and embellishments contributed to a rich history of Islamic clothing that was based on the principles of modesty.

Part II – Specific Examples of Islamic Clothing

Part 2 of this article deals with specific examples of Islamic clothing in different parts of the world at different times.