Over the past year, it’s not enough for retailers to peddle clothes as accouterment or means of creative expression, there needs to be thought and care behind the brands included. Particularly labels that are Black-owned or are run by underrepresented groups. Nordstrom, one of the most prolific retailers out there, made a small step in this area when the company launched its first-ever hijab line with Henna & Hijabs, a Minneapolis-based brand founded by Hilal Ibrahim. The partnership marked a big moment for this giant retailer to partake in the diversity conversation.
“Right now, hijab-wearing women often need to go to multiple stores or shop online to find the perfect hijab to go with a new outfit,” Ibrahim tells TZR. “I want my customers to walk into a national retailer, like Nordstrom, and be able to buy a hijab as easily as if they were buying a new pair of jeans. I hope other young women feel inspired and reimagine how they can shape the world when they see our hijabs on mannequins and shoppers at Nordstrom.”
For those not familiar with what exactly constitutes a hijab, it is a religious veil worn by Muslim women while in public. It looks like a square scarf designed to cover the person’s head and neck. Nordstrom’s hijab line launched with five styles that are made with textured jersey, linen-blend fabrics, and silk. For Ibrahim, it was very important to make sure that the wearer feels great in the new Nordstrom x Henna & Hijabs pieces.
“I want every detail to be perfect, so I worked with Nordstrom to ensure each scarf is special in how it feels, how it drapes, and how the patterns translated to the fabric,” she explains. “We also crafted a really high-quality and breathable undercap, designed to be fashionable and functional in how it helps fine fabrics like silk and chiffon stay securely in place.”
While the fashion industry has taken some steps towards diversity and inclusion in the past year, there’s still more work to be done. “There are a lot of misconceptions about my community, and part of my mission is to break those down and show the incredible diversity within and power of our community of hijab-wearing women,” Ibrahim says. “And as a young, Black, female, Muslim CEO, I have to trust myself all the more and stay focused on my mission when naysayers emerge or bumps happen in the process.”
For Nordstrom, this collaboration came after demands and feedback from the retailer’s employees, customers, and partners. Jen Jackson Brown, the EVP and president of Nordstrom Product Group, says that the company is currently working to deliver a more inclusive assortment of products to its customers. “Our values are centered on the notion of creating a place where every customer and employee is welcomed, respected, appreciated, and able to be themselves,” she tells TZR. “This partnership with Henna & Hijabs allows us to introduce a collection of hijabs, designed for specifically with Muslim women in mind, but wearable for individuals across many backgrounds in a number of stylings.”
As far as clothing goes, Ibrahim points out that hijabs are still not very well understood by non-Muslim people, which is why she wanted to make sure that these pieces are different from a standard neck scarf and is made with breathable, summer-appropriate fabrics that can be worn during religious holidays like Eid. “Every hijab is light, breathable, and made of natural fabrics, so if you’re heading out to brunch or to a wedding, you can feel beautiful and confident,” she says. “And while I’ve designed this collection for my Muslim and hijab-wearing community, I want any woman who finds empowerment in our story to feel they can wear an H&H [Henna & Hijabs] scarf in whatever styling speaks to them.”
Aside from representation, Ibrahim wants Henna & Hijabs to adhere to sustainable and ethnical practices. (The brand partnered with a woman-owned mill in producing the hijab line with Nordstrom.) In addition to that, the company prioritizes the use of eco-conscious materials like organic cotton and has worked to meet Nordstrom Product Group’s ethical labor practices and sustainability standards. Henna & Hijabs is also currently pursuing a B-Corps certification, which is only given to businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
The Nordstrom x Henna & Hijabs partnership will release several additional hijab drops in the future. In addition to working with Ibrahim, Brown shares that the retailer has several other diversity-minded initiatives coming up. “As a part of our diversity, inclusion, and belonging strategy, we have committed to delivering $500 million in retail sales from brands owned, operated, or designed by Black and/or Latinx individuals by the end of 2025,” Brown says. “Along with additional drops of the Henna & Hijabs collection, we're looking into opportunities to partner with diverse brands on future Nordstrom Made exclusive collections.”
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