x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Fashion for conservative Muslim women develops in Turkey

Turkey's first fashion magazine for conservative Muslim women, Ala, offers health tips, travel pages and celebrity interviews with a dose if Islamic activism thrown in too.

A model prepares for a photo shoot for Ala magazine in Istanbul, Turkey. Ala Magazine/ AFP
A model prepares for a photo shoot for Ala magazine in Istanbul, Turkey. Ala Magazine/ AFP

Less than a year since it launched last June, Turkey's first fashion magazine for conservative Muslim women has become a mainstream glossy.

With a circulation of 20,000, the monthly Ala, meaning "beauty", is only slightly behind the Turkish versions of Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Elle magazines.

The magazine's editor, the 24-year-old Hulya Aslan, has first-hand experience with Turkey's headscarf troubles - her insistence on wearing one meant pursuing work in a bank and giving up on university.

"With this magazine, we are changing trends," Aslan said. "We say that women in headscarves can follow trends. There are more and more products on the market they can access," Aslan said.

Ala offers the usual fare of health tips, travel pages and celebrity interviews, with a dose of Islamic activism. "Veiled is beautiful" proclaims one advertisement, driving home the point with the words: "My way, my choice, my life, my truth, my right."

Such slogans sound more like a reference to the struggles of the past, when secularism monopolised the social scene. Although the strict application of secularism has been loosened under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, headscarves are still off-limits for civil servants. They are now allowed in some universities, while many others ban them. In Turkey, 60 per cent of women wear some type of hair covering according to a 2006 survey conducted by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation.

* AFP