In a step towards inclusivity, American clothing retailer Banana Republic has launched four styles of hijabs. Featuring a range of prints, colors, and fabrics, the headscarves fit into casual attire, as well as business formal. While hijabi women, Muslims, and modest dressers around the world have applauded the brand, some were quick to point out that two outfits in the brand’s campaign images do not meet the religious dress requirements of hijabi women.
Instagram users were quick to point out that the model in the image above is wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt, while the model below can be seen wearing a side-slit dress – two pieces of clothing that do not fall in line with the covered Islamic dress code.
Melanie Elturk, was among the first to respond. The American-Muslim CEO of Haute Hijab took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the images. “While I LOVE that hijab is becoming more mainstream and applaud @bananarepublic for their efforts in inclusivity… I have to pause at the way it’s portrayed.”
She explains: “Brands will continue to invest in this space but without proper checks in place — you have images like this. All it would have taken was a consultation with a Muslim brand or group to advise in order to do it right and respect our values.”
Adding: “So while this excited me as someone who’s life mission is to normalize hijab in the mainstream, I also think it’s important we keep the essence of hijab intact for ourselves and our future generations.”
She concluded her statement by stating that while she loves that the brand is representing the Muslim community, “there are guidelines to hijab outside of just covering hair.”
Some Instagram users were quick to target the brand’s campaign model, Fatuma Yusuf.
Elturk came to her defense by stating that while the Banana Republic may have stated that Yusuf styled her own hijab, it was most probably not the case. “I can guarantee you she had no say in the styling. And even if she did, knowing how these sets work — models are treated like props and their input is rarely welcome. So don’t blame her even though @bananarepublic made it seem like she styled everything. That’s just a caption”
Banana Republic’s campaign images also caught the attention of Ghizlan Guenez, the Founder and CEO of The Modist, a luxury modest fashion e-tailer. The Algerian-born showed her support by reposting many of Elturk’s posts on her account, along with the caption: “because I echo everything she shared.”
Banana Republic has since removed all the images deemed offensive on its website and social media channels.