Sparked by my own reservations around an existing display of Muslim dress in the museum’s galleries, I was interested in exploring representations of Muslim Londoners through our fashion collections. A Muslim Londoner myself, I felt that this outfit – collected nearly 15 years ago now – did not reflect the creative, stylish and modest Muslim men and women that I know. The ‘What Muslims Wear’ project sought to diversify the Museum of London’s understanding of Muslim dress styles in London, by working with young Londoners to collect outfits that reflect Muslim dress in the capital today.
These stylish Muslims were performers, artists, fashion designers and journalists. Some had been Muslim all their lives, while others had converted just in the past few years, but all of them were exploring what it meant to look Muslim in London today, reflecting on the spiritual, practical and experimental motivations that inform their dress choices. Working with artists Fourth Wall Creations we set about collecting six worn outfits from young Muslim Londoners, three of which I wanted to share here.
Hiba, a young Muslim Londoner of Eritrean heritage wore this outfit on her first day as a student at the London College of Fashion in 2013. She was keen to express her Muslim identity, whilst still being on trend. She described her look as the ‘urban’ hijabi look, practical, edgy and keeping up with her hectic London lifestyle.
The process of collecting the six outfits was observed and captured by illustrators OOMK (One of My Kind) and summarised in the ‘What Muslims Wear’ booklet capturing the Museum of London’s Muslim dress collection of 2014. You’ll be able to see some of the outfits collected in the museum’s Galleries of Modern London very soon!