Fashion is a trade that changes as often as you change clothes. Every day, fashion rules are created and broken. However, these rules are laid out by European and western designers and brands. It is about time that Middle Eastern and Asian fashion starts influencing the haute fashion trends that you see everywhere. The prevalence of Western influence in clothing has gotten to the point where Eastern cultures have adapted conventions of formal attire from Western standards. It is sad to see how the simple printed Tee and button down shirt has become so prevalent throughout the world. However, when these huge fashion designers shell out millions of dollars in advertising, this is the result. The suit and tie has become a universal icon for professionalism and formal attire. However, formal wear for many cultures may seem unprofessional for many high brow fashion designers. Unlike Western and European fashion, Eastern fashion focuses on modesty and comfort. Euro fashion focuses on specific body types, colors and materials, Eastern fashion focuses on the person wearing the clothes and the wearers connection and influence instead of the person looking at the clothes. It is a goal of ours to see cultural and ethnic garb permeate the mainstream fashion trends and appeal to the average person. Ethnic fashion has much more versatility and variety, it would be foolish to ignore the influence and culture of the rest of world and only look at how many ways you can make a shirt or suit look “different”.
It is unfortunate to see that most modern fashion trends rely on the “shock and awe” to mesmerize customers and designers. Simply, all they big brands seem to be running out of ways they can sell a leather jacket or a cotton shirt. When will they understand that we don’t want another shirt with a different logo on it or some fancy pockets sewed on to a plain white tee. The only time you see unique clothing is on the runway, but some of the runway fashion we see is completely impractical for everyday wear or even in formal occasions. Of course, runway fashion isn’t meant for the average Joe or Jamile who works from nine to five in a cubicle and goes to the kids soccer game on the weekends. However, even retail fashion seems to be out of touch with the average dad who can’t quite understand why he can’t pull of the same brands that his teenage son has in his closet. Some fashion trends are just out of reach for many people. Eastern fashion appeals to everyone. Whether you’re a teen or adolescent who appreciates unique and exciting clothing or a dad who can’t resist that teal Hawaiian shirt cause, “It’s so comfortable”, Islamic and Eastern fashion has the fits that are fit for you.
Islamic Fashion or Eastern Ethnic Fashion:
It is a slight misnomer to refer to ethnic clothing of the Middle East and Asian continents as “Islamic Clothing”. This is because many of the people who live in Eastern countries are not even Muslim, yet they wear the same clothes. Christian men in Arabian countries still wear thobes and shemaghs, Hindu and Buddhist men in india will wear kurtas same as Muslim men. It would be unfair to ignore that many cultures outside of religious influence have helped shape the modern trend of Islamic fashion. That being said, there is no common unifying theme to connect all these cultures. Therefore, we will refer to this genre of fashion as Islamic Fashion and Eastern Ethnic Fashion. By referring to this group as such, we do not devalue the cultures that have shaped this genre of men’s ethnic clothing. However, since we are Muslim American, a company that primarily sells Islamic products, we know that the majority of the people who request these styles from us are going to be Muslim. Therefore, we are going to refer to these styles and trends from an Islamic point of view rather than a secular fashion point of view. We will also discuss the history and significance for each type of clothing, including variations around the world and how it can be adapted into modern fashion. Even if you are not Muslim, we would suggest broadening your horizon in clothing. A little diversity in your closet shows you’re an open minded person and who knows, maybe you might wear them everyday once you realize how comfortable these styles are.
The staple of casual men’s wear in Asia. These loose fitting button down shirts called kurtas can be found all over East and South Asia. The baju melayu, common in Malaysia, is a similar style to the kurta as well. This candid and comfortable shirt can be worn casually and formally depending on the occasion. The right kurta will work with any bottoms such as denim or khaki.
Thobes are a must have attire in the Middle East. Thobes come in a variety of styles and colors but what sets them apart is the collar and color. Saudi Arabian thobes look similar to tuxedo shirts which extend to the ankle. These very sharp and formal thobes can be found in the home of every man who lives in the Arabian Peninsula.
Kufis are hats that are typically worn by Muslims. Some Christian or Jewish Arabs may wear this as part of the security or military uniform as is custom there. The Kufi has a very large religious and cultural significance in many parts of the world. Also, the styles and variety of Kufi designs are numerous. Every region of every continent has its own unique style of Kufi. However, they are all meant for the same purpose, which is to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Shemaghs (also known as keffiyehs) are simple scarves that are worn for two reasons. One reason is to protect the wearer from intense dust and heat during certain times of of the day or specific seasons. The dust in Middle Eastern countries can get carried so easily that they cover almost everything that is exposed to the fresh air, including your face. The desert scarf helps guard your hair and face. They are also worn as a uniform or a badge of honor. Shemaghs that are worn for aesthetic reasons are usually adorned with an agal. These agals are the black ring you see on the head of Saudi citizens and many others who wear shemagh regularly as their attire.
Muslim men wear all kinds of pants. Muslim men can wear any pants as long as they are not made of silk. In modern fashion, men usually just wear jeans or khakis with their kurtas. However, the traditional kurta pajamas are very versatile and extremely comfortable all year round. Thobes are most often worn these days with shorts or joggers, but thobes also have a traditional form of pants that are designed to be comfortable when wearing the long thobe all day.