Dressing modestly in America

By BARBARA FERGUSON, LIFE.STYLE@ARABNEWS.COM

American Muslims are the country’s most ethnically and racially diverse faith group. In the Washington DC area, the Muslim population is relatively large and made up of many young, short-term globe-trotters, student and embassy types who are looking to gather and network.

Outside Washington, in the D.C. suburbs, Muslim immigrants and their families reside, having moved in from around the globe to settle in the D.C. area.

So, dressing well as a modest Muslim woman is a priority for many here in the D.C. area, but also throughout the United States. High-end and moderately priced modest women’s clothing have become part of an increasingly sophisticated effort to market and sell to Muslim Americans — a community that represents over $200 billion a year in spending.

In response to this demand, Muslim women’s boutiques have become quite popular in the area. Modern Mary is run by Seema Sahin and is located near Tyson’s Corner, near Washington, D.C.

PrimoModa is an online boutique run by Zeena Altalib who takes local customers by appointment only in Potomac Falls, Va.

Altalib, who grew up in Mosul, Iraq, told Arab News in a phone interview that she has loved fashion design since she was a child. Her mother taught her to sew, she said, and she and her mother often sewed together. She said she began making clothes for her dolls, but soon this progressed to clothes for herself.

Altalib and her family moved to Virginia when she was 16 where she graduated from the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Virginia. She opted to go to college in the area and obtained her bachelor’s degree in communications at George Mason University. After working in the corporate world for a year, Altalib returned to GM for her master’s degree in education where she specialized in instructional technology. While working for her master’s degree, Altalib said she learned a lot about e-commerce and online business, all of which have proved essential to her success today.

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