Nyla Hashmi and Fatima Monkush struggled to find contemporary fashion that was modest until they developed their own brand of women’s clothing with Eva Khurshid. But the design, religious, and economic challenges mean the two have to work twice as hard to get noticed.
Eva Khurshid is a women’s wear brand that we built out of a shared struggle to find fashion forward clothing that was modest. Growing up in the US it’s difficult to find clothing that falls within our religious boundaries and our own comfort level. Because of our upbringing we were motivated to take on this bold venture.
We both have a mixed heritage and grew up in conservative Muslim households in the US. Nyla Hashmi was raised by an American mother and Pakistani father, spending half of her adolescence being shuttled between Pakistan and America. Fatima Monkush was born to an American mother and Bengali father and grew up in the US. As teenagers, we both found it increasingly difficult to find anything in the stores that we didn’t have to alter or layer in order for us to feel comfortable wearing it. Our mothers grew up making their own clothing and suggested for years that we do the same. Already knowing the basics of sewing, they showed us how to follow and alter patterns. Over time we’ve developed our own aesthetic, which we now bring to our designs.
Throughout the whole process, we’ve learned that there is a very large community of Muslim women waiting for exactly what we’re bringing to the market. We’ve realized that we aren’t the only ones who want Western clothing with a modest edge. Our philosophy is that through our clothing women should feel empowered and comfortable in what they wear. We’ve also learned that it’s not just Muslim women who relate to our clothing; our designs appeal to both Muslim and non-Muslim women. The boutiques that will carry our collection are trendy, fashion-forward stores that are geared toward the career-oriented woman, and not exclusively to any specific religious or ethnic group.
This experience has been a huge learning process for us. We found that we have to be confident in what we are creating and selling. Especially during the current economic and political climate, we have to be aggressive in selling our collection to the stores. We’re women, we’re Muslim, and we’re a new business – given all these factors, we have to work twice as hard for stores to take a chance on us.
Designing this brand is more difficult because we have to work within set guidelines. We have to make sure the design works with the fabric and is still appealing. On top of the delicate balance of design, we have to create something that is both aesthetically beautiful and modest. We take pride in this challenge because we are passionate about our cause.
Ultimately, our goals for Eva Khurshid are to break the boundaries of design as well as the misconceptions of Muslim women. Modest women – both Muslim and non-Muslim – need not wear drab colors and rough fabrics! We aspire to become a recognizable lifestyle brand and the go-to for all women.
Nyla Hashmi and Fatima Monkush operate the Eva Khurshid brand of women’s clothing. This video was created by Contributing Photographer Sarah Uddin.