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Modest Fashion as Community and Commerce

SUNDAY, NOV 13, 2016
1-6 PM EST, Registration 12.30 PM
Multipurpose Room B & C
Princeton University, NJ USA

General Admission $15 | Students FREE

Princeton Muslim Life, altMuslimah,
Faith & Fashion from London College of Fashion

Modest Fashion as Community and Commerce

As increasing number of women around the world choose to dress in ways that express their religious beliefs and cultures, Professor Reina Lewis of London College of Fashion joins with and the Princeton Muslim Life Program to explore the pleasures and pitfalls of ‘modest’ fashion as community and commerce.

With a niche market reaching out to consumers of all faiths and none and an ever-expanding social media, our expert speakers consider the potential of fashion to encourage female participation in social and political life. Characterized by a commitment to women’s freedom to choose how they dress, modest fashion commerce and commentary gets women talking to each other about lives, bodies, aspirations, values, and beliefs across divides of faith and secularity.

Rather than dismiss fashion as trivial, we explore how fashion can develop women as influencers, able to negotiate scrutiny from within their religious communities and challenge prejudice from without. In a world where religion is frequently misused as a basis for hatred and violence, modest fashion provides inspirational models for dealing with conflict in the process of building more harmonious communities.

Session 1: Life phases, regulation, resistance
Speaker:   Whitney Bauck of
Moderator: Asma T. Uddin of

Contrary to the presumption that women who dress modesty are ‘forced’ by their parents or preachers, the increase in modest dressing across the faiths has largely been inspired by peer to peer conversations. Although much of this dialogue is transmitted online in blogs and social media, the offline encounters of student life also provide key forums for discussing and displaying modest dress. Join us to consider how student politics may be variously enabling or oppressive in young adulthood and beyond.

Session 2: Picturing modest fashion: creativity, careers, controversies
Speaker: Laila Alawa founder of
Moderator, Reina Lewis, London College of Fashion, author of   Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures.

Images of women in modest fashion continue to provoke such profound responses from within and without their communities: from the fury displayed by some Muslims about the skateboarding hijabis of the Mipsterz video; to the uneven response of sports associations to the idea of religiously dressed women competing in public; to French politicians censuring fashion houses designing abayas. Join us to explore boundary disputes and creative responses. 

Session 3: Commodifying identity: faith, gender, race, sexuality.
Speakers: Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik of
Moderator, Reina Lewis, London College of Fashion, author of   Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures.

For over a decade, women have led on a cross-faith niche market and social media catering to modest fashionistas, and now global fashion brands have started to market to Muslims. Will commodification determine how we understand and express all parts of our social identities, from religion to race, from gender to sexuality, and from class to ability? Join us to explore if religiously motivated fashion fans should be welcoming or wary of new consumer cultures.



Laila Alawa started her career at the White House and Congress, and is the CEO and Founder of The Tempest, the leading tech and media company by diverse millennial women, for the world. She is also the host for The Expose, a podcast tackling tough topics with snark and wit. In 2016, she was honored at the White House Summit on the United State of Women. Since founding The Tempest, Laila has been quoted in nationwide outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, and CNN Money as a disruptive force in media. Prior to founding The Tempest, Laila was a research specialist at Princeton University, studying socio-cognitive processing under the framework of community identity and belonging. During her time at Wellesley College, she spent time dissecting stereotype threat for women in the sciences, consumer behaviorism and minority stereotyping and judgement.

Company bio: The Tempest is a leading media and tech company created and run by diverse millennial women, for the world. From culture to news, entertainment to life, we connect millions of readers with the vanguard of next generation writers, producers and image makers, together building a community of multi-cultural creators, tastemakers and influencers. Launched in 2016, The Tempest now reaches millions of monthly readers. As the number one digital media company for diverse millennial women, The Tempest is building the defining women's culture brand for diverse millennials around the world.

Company website:

Whitney Bauck
is a Brooklyn-based writer focused on the intersection of fashion, faith and ethics. She writes for publications like the Washington Post, Fashionista, Christianity Today, Billboard and the Hollywood Reporter in addition to blogging at You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Reina Lewis
is Artscom Centenary Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. Her books include: Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures (2015), Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem (2004), and Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (1996). She is editor of Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Mediating Faith, (2013). Reina is a frequent media commentator – most recently for The New York Times, Le Monde, BBC World, BBC Radio, CBC radio, The Guardian, The Times, Marie-Claire magazine, Elle Brazil,,, and Huffington Post. She convenes the public talk series Faith and Fashion at the London College of Fashion.

Web site:

Mimi and Mushky
met and became sisters-in-law in 2011 and immediately bonded over their love for oversized clothing. Having both experienced the struggle of finding well-made yet affordable clothing that fit their aesthetic, they joined forces to make the clothing they wanted to wear. With no fashion background, Mimi and Mushky launched MIMU MAXI, introducing frocks and smocks and cascading dresses that became the “go-to” clothing for their own Chassidic community in Brooklyn— and way beyond.

Building on the spiritual depth of their ancestry as well as the requirements of Jewish law, Mimi and Mushky’s pieces are dramatic yet down to earth. And although they always feature higher necklines, longer hemlines and fuller sleeves to accommodate their dress-code, they view their “limitations” as an opportunity: to communicate who they are, to break boundaries, and to create more interesting designs.

Their designs have been featured by Vogue, Refinery29, Huffington Post, the New York Times and more. On their lively Instagram page, Mimi and Mushky share their funny, meaningful and always honest take on fashion, being busy “momtrepreneurs” — and best friends.


Asma T. Uddin
is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of, and Co-founder of altVentures Media, Inc. She is also a lawyer and scholar specializing in American and international religious liberty.