By Naima Karp
About two summers ago, two girls from similar backgrounds, coming from very different cities, united in their journey to create fashion that fit their fashion identity with their religious identity, adhering to orthodox modesty in their day to day wear while staying equally true to their fashion sense. Mushky married Mimi’s brother, and the two women often discussed starting a business together, especially as it was difficult to stay modest, while fashionable, during the hot New York summers. They didn’t think the two factors had to be mutually exclusive. During Shabbat, their husbands eventually convinced the two to turn their interest in the field into a tangible business from their humble home in Crown Heights, called MimuMaxi.
Concerning their business and their philosophies, the women are quite open to being in the public eye, encouraging others to educate people about their beliefs and to champion them. “We want to focus on human commonality,” says Mimi, using this point of human connection as one of her greatest loves of the work she does; bringing people of different communities together. Recently, the brand has been all over the internet after posting a photo of a Hijabi fashion blogger wearing one of their skirts. She also happened to be wearing a hijab, which sparked more debate than the girls expected, or asked for. Their connection with Almarchada came about rather organically, as have many of their relationships with consumers of other religions. Jewish, Christian, and otherwise, bloggers reach out to the women on Facebook, and they often respond to their fans with gratitude, sending them a free piece or two. While they have received offers to be carried in various boutiques, they thrive on the connection with their customers so much that it hasn’t been a priority in either Mushky or Mimi’s minds.
If you’re from any country where a hijab is part of your daily life, the concept of identity in the throes of your teen years can be even more confusing with the addition of a uniform. Many young girls in the West take for granted being able to express themselves through fashion, and help in finding their identity and voice as a growing woman. However, some who are young and wear a hijab may feel restricted, or excluded from the fashion world entirely. While fashion may seem worthy of eye-rolling to some, it’s an integral part of adolescence and finding all the unique parts that make up who you are, in vital years.
“Modernizing traditions is something that we’re trying to do,” says Mushky. It’s true, as with Western girls, no one wants to be confined to their grandma’s stuffy old robes that swallow your body completely. Comfy classics from the girls include empire-waisted striped dresses, fun floral prints, and long white tunics.
With fashions like this becoming modernized and more every day, it’s also powerful in decoding foreign cultures, and letting them be more understood by the West. Social media pages and fashion bloggers writing about modest and hijabi fashion are small steps in dismantling the fear surrounding the unknown of the Middle East, and Islamic nations, as well as many others. Frivolous fashion collaborations giving way to peace might seem unrealistic, but they’re without a doubt a step in the right direction.