Shalom Life | July 25, 2014

An Exclusive Interview with Hipster Hijabis

We speak to Summer Albarcha about the controversy that began after she modeled an outfit for an Orthodox Jewish fashion company

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: July 23rd, 2014 in Culture » Society » News

An Exclusive Interview with Hipster Hijabis

Recently, 18-year-old Summer Albarcha, soon to be a freshman in business management, made waves when she modeled a skirt by the Jewish, Brooklyn-based company Mimu Maxi, run by Orthodox Jewish sisters-in-law Musky Notik and Mimi Hecht. While normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, as the company - which specializes in modest fashion - publishes photos of customers wearing their outfits on a daily basis, Albarcha is the famous Muslim Instagramer Hipster Hijabis.

With the conflict heating up between both the Palestinians and Israel, many of Mimu Maxi’s customers were blaming the company for being inappropriate and having bad timing. The Daily Mail commented on the controversy, citing how some called Mimu Maxi's decision to enlist Albarcha "appalling" and "shameful."

"This is highly inappropriate," said Instagram user Raizys24. "I find it surprising that you would that this would be a source of promotion given the majority of your customer base. Disappointing."

"I understand that you're attempting to diversify your customer body and get on the peace and love train; however, I believe as Jews we must remain true to our values and maintain a sensitivity towards and brothers and sisters in Israel," added user Geturfingeon.

“Let’s face it, Israel is currently under attack, and people, our own brothers and sisters, are living in fear! Many people, who will scroll down their feed and suddenly see a Muslim woman in garb on a frum [religious Jewish] clothing page, will, initially, be appalled,” said another customer.

Notik and Hecht responded to the outcries of criticism on Facebook, defending their decision to post the photo.


Musky Notik and Mimi Hecht

"We were shocked to see women immediately pit themselves against us, essentially accusing us of being insensitive, putting our business above morals, and threatening to "unfollow" and never purchase from us again -- effectively "copying" the way of Israel/Jewish haters by boycotting a beautiful, holy Jewish business!" they wrote.

They added that they had spoken to their rabbi about it, how commended them for promoting modesty, regardless of religion. It was a mitzvah to enlist Albarcha, a popular Muslim fashion blogger, he told them.

Intrigued, we contacted Albarcha to hear, the model who’s got everyone talking, to hear her side of the story.

ShalomLife: What got you interested in fashion?

Summer Albarcha: I’ve been interested in fashion since I was little. I mean, I used to have a book where I’d draw every outfit in my closet, and draw my outfits for the week. I’ve always liked matching, colours, and art, so as I got older and found instagram I thought it would be a really cool way to express how I dress, and how I take the time to make my outfits every day.

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