Over the summer retailer Banana Republic started selling hijabs on their online store (including a style with leopard print). The company says that this is part of their effort to “to reflect the rich diversity of customers and employees.” Analysts say that the growing emergence of modest clothing lines into mainstream retailer stores indicates a clear shift in retailers’ attitudes toward inclusion and diversity.
“Mainstream companies are waking up to the fact that there is value in Muslim consumers,” says Sabiha Ansari, co-founder of the American Muslim Consumer Consortium, a nonprofit that works with businesses. “Any time a consumer is acknowledged, that’s a good thing.”
But some Muslim shoppers say that they are conflicted about mainstream retailers getting into the hijab business. Is it inclusion or the appropriation of a sacred religious symbol? “On the one hand, it does feel like they’re profiting off of us,” said Leena Snoubar, 25, an American Muslim fashion blogger whose Instagram has nearly 800,000 followers. “But on the other, it’s a way to normalize hijab and make us feel more included.”