The grand opening of the first Islamic fashion store in a major shopping mall in the United States was held recently in Orlando, Florida. In celebration of the store named Verona, customers shopping at Fashion Square Mall were treated to free makeovers, and many Muslim women, in their fashionable hijabs attended the event, snapping selfies on the red carpet, while Arabic music filled the hallways of the shopping mall.
The owner, Lisa Vogl, cut the ribbon to symbolize the grand opening of a store which is already challenging Islamophobia towards Muslim women in Western society. Vogl aims to show the public that hijabis are not the oppressed women that Americans think they are, but highly fashionable, everyday women just like those around them.
Vogl is both a fashion designer and photographer who created a modest line of clothing as well as a unique hijab brand in 2016. She is now in her early thirties, but expressed an interest in fashion as a youngster, when she would design items of clothing with her grandmother, who would stitch them up for her.
Her natural desire to design and create has continued, and she has reached a successful point in her career, designing pieces for women to express themselves freely. Vogl says “To be American and to be free is to be able to express yourself the way you choose fit—and that’s exactly what I am doing.”
Prior to the birth of her first child, she traveled extensively as a photographer across the United States and Arab nations but launched her fashion label to be able to work from one place so that she could raise her kids.
As a Muslim woman, Vogel faced numerous challenges while trying to shop for fashionable clothing, and looking for suitable undershirts and other modest pieces to add to her outfits. Her experiences inspired her to start her line of clothing, one which would make life much easier for other Muslim women with great taste in clothing.
Being located in a major shopping mall allows the general public to see Muslim women in a different light which “helps narrow the gap between the Muslim community and others,” she said.
The store is suitable for all women, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. Vogl has many non-Muslim women who come into the store looking to purchase modest clothing items at an affordable price. Her designs are simple, fashionable and comfortable which appeals to so many customers.
Not all women from around the area have welcomed the store with open arms. In fact, many non-Muslim women refused to comment on the store at all and just shook their heads. Some of them wouldn’t even enter the shop, but kept a safe distance.
Vogl hasn’t let this affect her, or her plans. She has already looked into opening other stores abroad in London and Paris. Opening stores abroad should be a great business opportunity for her, as the global market for the Muslim fashion industry has grown considerably, and is expected to see a steep incline within the next few years.