Despite the sizeable market for it, modest fashion largely exists separate from mainstream retail here in Toronto. Twenty-six-year-old Hilal Ibrahim is trying to change that. On Friday, June 17, her company, Henna & Hijabs, will be launching a new collection of luxury fashion hijabs, available at Nordstrom Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto and online.
The release will coincide with a free event at Nordstrom Yorkdale from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday hosted by The Digital Sisterhood. Attendees can expect live product modelling, a henna tattoo artist, a fashion illustrator, light bites, special guests and more.
The collection itself has been exclusively designed for Nordstrom, says Ibrahim.
“It features prints and patterns perfect for Eid. We know the Eid holiday is coming up very soon, so launching this before is very intentional,” she says. “We wanted to make sure customers had beautiful new hijabs to wear for the holiday. We also used a lot of summer materials. We did organic cotton, we used silk; lighter-weight materials than our fall/winter collection.”
Ibrahim says Henna & Hijabs also launched a collection with Nordstrom in the U.S. alongside the Canadian launch.
“There was a lot of excitement when we dropped the collections in Canada, so we wanted to celebrate that excitement. We know there’s a really diverse Muslim community and we chose Toronto for the new hijab collection because of that,” says Ibrahim.
Ibrahim first conceptualized Henna & Hijabs when she was in high school. She created her first collection after perceiving a need for intentionally-made hijabs among her family and friends in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“I was having trouble finding the perfect hijab, and really wanted to create something that didn’t previously exist in the market,” she says. “I sold to friends and to family, and then I created a business plan. The vision for the company is born out of a need that I experienced first, and then a need that I noticed within the community.”
Today, Henna & Hijabs is all about representing the needs of modern Muslim women, and that foundation of serving the community still runs through everything that Ibrahim does. During the height of the COVID pandemic, Ibrahim worked with her local healthcare system to create lightweight, breathable, hospital-grade hijabs. Her healthcare hijabs – the first of their kind – have since been donated to local area hospitals in Minnesota.
“I think when you step into the fashion space, traditionally in American culture and Canadian culture, modest fashion has been something that’s not really been focused on or talked about,” says Ibrahim. “I say what really makes us stand out is our vision, our impact within the community, and our yearning to create accessibility in the fashion and retail space where it previously wasn’t a norm.”
Once the company’s Friday event finishes, Ibrahim says this won’t be the end of Henna & Hijabs’ Canadian collaborations. “We do have some really exciting things coming up that I can’t really disclose. We might be back in the Canadian backyard very soon.”