An Orthodox Brooklyn Clothing Line Shared a Photo of a Woman In a Hijab, and Their Customers Flipped Out
We'll begin with the nice, non-controversial part of this story: Mimu Maxi is a small clothing line in Brooklyn, owned by two sisters-in-law from Crown Heights, Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik. Hecht and Notik are observant Orthodox Jews, and as such, as they write on their website, they've often struggled to find clothes that were stylish but still as modest as Orthodox custom requires. "But instead of bemoaning the trials and tribulations of shopping with modest sensibilities in mind," as their company bio puts it, "they took matters into their own hands and set out to create the ultimate pieces they so needed for their wardrobe."
Image via Hipster Hijabis The "controversial" skirt photo.
Not everybody who wears Mimu Maxi is Orthodox, of course. A popular Muslim fashion blogger from St. Louis named Summer Albarcha, who goes by the name "Hipster Hijabis" on Instagram is also a fan of their line. Like observant Orthodox Jews, many observant Muslim women struggle to find sufficiently modest, stylish clothes.
So far, so good, right? Well, there's more: On July 12, the fashion line and the blogger decided to do a little collaboration. Albarcha posted a photo of herself to Instagram wearing a lime-green Mimu Maxi skirt, paired with a white collared shirt, a few simple accessories, and of course, her hijab. It looked smashing. Mimu Maxi re-posted it to its Facebook page and to Instagram. And that's when everything went all to hell.
According to local Orthodox news service Col Live , Mimu Maxi's Orthodox customer base immediately erupted in disapproval, saying that a photo of a woman in a hijab during this time of heightened Israeli/Palestinian conflict was "insensitive."
"Definitely not the right timing," one angry clothing fan wrote on the Facebook page, according to Col Live.
Another wrote to the news service strongly suggesting that such a photo was "appalling." Col Live says the email read:
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 clothing page, will, initially, be appalled.
There may have been nothing wrong if the photo was posted in a different time and place, however, it was posted in a time when our brothers need our support.
("Frum" is the Yiddish word for an observant person or organization.)
All the negative comments on the Instagram post can be viewed here. A number of women even vowed to boycott the clothing line over their perceived treachery.The backlash got so bad that Mimu Maxi, issued an open letter on Facebook, calling out their own customer base for intolerance. It was also cross-posted to Instagram.
"It was exciting for us to share a Muslim modest fashion blogger's style-take on our design," they wrote in part of the letter. "It was modest. It was feminine. It was beautiful. The post received a disproportionate number of "likes" and lots of beautiful open support, highlighting the integrity and openness of the majority of our followers and customer base. That did not go unnoticed."
Story continues on the next page.