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Emancipation Through Abaya

Posted on February 13 2017

I have the combined background of a computer engineer and a social scientist. They say the two appeal to different lobes of the brain: the left brain dealing with analytical thinking and the right – we the fashion designers use this one – the creative thinking. I cannot stop myself thinking about economy-politics of modes of production, gender roles in the society, environmental awareness, anthropological implications of the modest fashion revolution and so on when I start writing about my art.

I know, an article that starts with Marx’s analysis of modes of production is highly unlikely to be read. The post-truth communication is devoid of meaningful content. ‘Oh my God! This is so cute! I loved this. You are an angel!’ receives more hit than ‘The female control of the modest fashion industry radically alters the Orientalist perception of the veil as a symbol of suppression of women.’  

But then, this is how my brain works.

And yes, for the first time in Muslim history, women have the control of what they wear. ‘Control’ does not mean to be free to choose which one of the already produced cloths to wear. That is the kind of freedom the man-ruled wild Capitalism promised us.

Here comes Marx.  

Real freedom is about having a say in the modes of production, not in the modes of consumption.

And with the rise of names like Aalia Khan, Dina Torkia, Hassanah El-Yacoubi, Sania Siddiqui,

Ibtihaj Muhammad, Dalal Al-Doub, Sagal Ibrahim Shire we now have a say in who produces what for us… And yes, I can think of Leena Asad, Rabia Z, Dilyara Sadrieva and Hana Tajima among which I see my humble contribution, as the emancipators of Muslim women.

I am not a feminist and none of us need to be. What I am trying to underline is not a Muslimah revolt against our husbands and brothers.

Those who have read a bit of Marxist criticism of Capitalist mode of production would remember the word ‘alienation’. Alienation stands for the aloofness of the working and producing classes to what they are producing. As they don’t have a say in what they are producing, and as they don’t have the means to buy the products of the factories they are working in, working class become alienated to what they are producing; and in the long run they become alienated to life.

What does this have to do with abaya in particular, and with the modest fashion industry in general?

Well, we love what we produce. And we wear what we produce. In fact, we don’t produce what we won’t be wearing lovingly.

This is the only plausible explanation of the rising numbers of MZ-Generation girls who want to work in the fashion industry.

By the way, being both the producers and consumers of the modest fashion industry, we managed to break the vicious cycle of exploitation of the surplus value by the owners of the capital.

Emancipation of the modes of production is the first step towards emancipation of the thinking mechanisms. The name of this industry may be modest, but its results will be enormous…  

That is precisely why I am concerned about established fashion brands like Dolce & Gabbana entering the modest fashion market. They will certainly bring in a competitive energy – but they may confiscate our ‘control’ on what we wear…

Resistance girls! :)

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