When you think of a conservative clothing line, abayas and long, loose dresses come to mind, as do burqas and bell-shaped sleeves. But two young American-Muslim designers are changing the idea of conservative dress.
A new clothing line from designers Nyla Hashmi, 23, and Fatima Monkush, 25, combines fashion and modesty with style.
Eva Khurshid is a clothing line geared towards women who want to be fashionable while leaving some things to the imagination; it’s all about rediscovering what is covertly sexy. The line re-invents the meaning of an empowered, confident woman. Sexy as a feeling, and not in the typically brazen sense: When you feel good in what you are wearing you feel confident, and that’s sexy.
Hashimi and Monkush are lifelong friends and grew up together in Connecticut, US. They both come from a background of mixed heritage, growing up in conservative Muslim households in America.
Hashmi was raised by an American mother and Pakistani father and spent half her adolescence being shuttled between Pakistan and the US. Monkush was born to an American mother and Bangladeshi father and grew up in the US.
Hashimi attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the top fashion schools in America where she studied fashion design, specializing in knitwear and art. She’s gained much experience from working at various fashion houses including Oscar de la Renta. Her last stint was at the established women’s contemporary brand, Elie Tahari, where she designed women’s knitwear.
In college, Monkush studied art and specialized in textile printmaking and jewelry design. Within a few months of graduating, Monkush moved to New York and interned at a menswear company. From there on, she worked for a number of fashion companies, from startups to big name brands.
“As teenagers, we both found it increasingly difficult to find anything in the stores that we didn’t have to alter or layer in order for us to feel comfortable wearing it, Hashmi and Monksuh told Daily News Egypt.
Both their mothers grew up making their own clothes and suggested for years that their daughters do the same. They learned the basics of sewing and were taught how to follow and alter patterns.
“Over time we developed our own aesthetic, which we now bring to our designs because of our shared struggle, we felt we needed to take this into our own hands and build a brand to fill this void in the market, they explained.
The name Eva Khurshid itself is a reflection of the founders’ mixed heritage, which has shaped their outlook on being a Muslim woman in America. Eva is Monkush’s maternal grandmother’s name, which represents their American heritage; while Khurshid is Hashmi’s paternal grandmother’s name, which represents their South Asian and Muslim identity.
The brand Eva Khurshid made its debut in the market last February at the premier trade show, Coterie. “Our debut was very well received, and launching to the mainstream buyer was a big step for us since this concept has not been seen before in the American market, they said.
Its target market is typically directed at the professional woman who appreciates fashion, someone who is classic, refined and knows what she wants. The clothing is ageless and any woman can relate to its modern aesthetic as well.
As Hashmi and Monkush put it, “The female who wears Eva Khurshid is a career driven cosmopolitan woman; she has business meetings by day and upscale events by night. She needs clothing that fits her on-the-go lifestyle, something she can just throw on and look fabulous.
Eva Khurshid’s first collection hit the stores this August at seven locations across the US, and their online boutique also carries their entire line.
But the sky is the limit for these aspiring designers, “We would love to be distributed worldwide, we don’t want to limit ourselves by selling only in the [United] States . our brand can be appreciated across cultural boundaries, they said.
Their futures plans for Eva Khurshid include building a lifestyle fashion brand and expanding to everything from menswear to accessories.
On a final note, Hashmi and Monkush say, “We hope to be well received among the public – both by the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. We don’t hold ourselves exclusive to any culture or religion, the beauty of Eva Khurshid is that any woman can wear it.
“We are not an Islamic or Muslim brand, we are a fashion brand that happens to be designed by Muslim women.
For more information, visit www.evakhurshid.com.