When we hear halal we probably think of food, not fashion. Your thought process might waiver somewhere between “Are you sure there’s no gelatin in this?” and “Does all Italian food really have wine in it?” For some of us, just the word halal brings up strong cravings for our favorite street food cart. Halal Guys, anyone? Halal has become so mainstream, that (aside from those creeping Sharia enthusiasts) most people know that it refers to the ethical treatment and slaughter of animals for Muslims, or anyone looking for high quality and ethically slaughtered meat.
But halal is so much more.
It is, or at least should be a way of life for Muslims. It’s not only how we eat, but how we conduct ourselves, how we dress, what we do, and even how we purchase consumer products in our day to day lives.
It may seem like halal consumption, especially in the fashion industry, is on the up and up. In the past year or so I’ve seen an uptick in headlines like “Inside the Booming Halal Fashion Industry” and “The New Modesty: Halal fashion is here to stay.”
But what does Halal fashion entail? Dressing modestly is the most obvious answer, but it doesn’t stop there. Halal is every aspect of a business, from start to finish.
This is what Halal fashion means to me, and how it’s carefully weaved, (see what we did there?) into the fabric of Framed People:
Locally sourced materials
Locally sourced materials are not only good for the environment, but good for the people in that environment as well. Sourcing fabrics was an intensive part of creating Framed People, and I traveled around the world to learn about the garment industry and see what different places had to offer.
I searched across the country and even a far as Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, and Japan, for the highest quality fabrics to create the perfect hijabs. And, yet, I ended up in LA. Local sourcing has since become one of the core beliefs of Framed People. You don’t have to cross oceans to find great materials, and staying close to home has heaps of benefits. If you want your company to give back to the community, shouldn’t you start with your own community first? If you want to help people, you don’t have to go far - start with supporting your neighbors.
High quality products
My research did not stop at fabrics. I also did extensive research on factories globally, coming to the conclusion to manufacture Framed People’s scarves in the USA. Not only was the quality of the finishings better, but the quality of the work as well. Take one of our most popular products - the Chif Chif Zipper scarf. My search for the perfect zipper came up empty. I was looking for something with a smooth rose gold finish and light enough not to weigh down the delicate fabric, but when I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to have it made.
The benefit of working with quality factories is that they produce quality products. And when you are running a business that promises high quality, you have to deliver.
Honest messaging and transparency
If you haven’t figured it out yet, lying is definitely not halal. That goes for misleading advertisements and exaggerated claims many businesses make in order to survive in this competitive world, including Islamic and “ethical businesses.” Exaggerating philanthropic activities, photoshopping products to make them look better than they really are, telling customers an item is valued at one price when it really isn’t- these are all forms of lying. Sometimes the truth is not sexy, and you know what sells. But does it have to be like that? Keeping it real means keeping it halal.
Taking it a step further, companies shouldn’t just tell the truth, but the whole truth. My favorite example of this is the clothing brand Everlane. You don’t need to look far to see what they believe in - it’s right in their headline: Radical transparency. They’ve pioneered the awesome hashtag #knowyourfactories, encouraging consumers to see exactly where their clothing comes from.
Ethical work environment
The cheap products we are used to buying (hello, Forever 21 guilty pleasures!) often come at the expense of someone else – definitely not halal. Before starting Framed People, I traveled to Los Angeles to meet with a few factories, and chose a manufacturer based on the working conditions. When meeting with factories, I inquired about their core ethics and I took into consideration the employee morale. I tried to connect with almost all the factory employees to understand more about their labor conditions and overall treatment. Even though the label of “Made in the USA” may allude to not being made in a sweatshop, that is not necessarily the case.
Many workers in the US, particularly undocumented workers, are taken advantage of. These are unfortunate people who are full of hope, and risk their lives to come to a country supposedly full of opportunity. According to studies, 21% of garment workers in Los Angeles have reported physical or verbal violence on the job, and another 6% have even reported sexual harassment in the workplace. In many factories (almost half, according to Aljazeera!) there’s poor ventilation, causing eye and nose irritation from chemicals. Other complaints range from a lack of clean drinking water to no overtime, breaks, or safety training for employees. How can we call something created in such a haram environment halal?
So maybe now you’re thinking “I want to be more halal! What can I do?”
Support companies who value transparency. Do your research- know where what you buy comes from. Learn what manufacturing practices cause harm to the environment and avoid them. Buy locally sourced products in your own community. Focus on purchasing a few high quality goods instead of a lot of poor quality items. Next time you’re buying that blouse that is too cheap to believe, ask yourself questions like this. It might be extra work, but that’s the price you pay for halal products.
Written by Zain Abdullah, Founder of Framed People