Accepted paper:

Veiled designer-entrepreneurs, virtues and markets


Magdalena Craciun (University of Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws upon an ethnographic study of the ways in which veiled designer-entrepreneurs position themselves on the competitive market for fashionable Islamic dress in Turkey in order to illustrate how and why morality and economy can continuously be articulated and disarticulated.

Paper long abstract:

Turkey accommodates a vibrant market for religiously appropriate yet fashionable clothes. In the recent years, clothing companies have diversified existing lines of Islamic dress or have introduced lines designed specifically with pious Muslim women in mind; new companies have been established in response to the demand for fashionable Islamic dress; and a large number of designer-entrepreneurs, secular and conservative, have begun working for this market. In such a competitive environment, veiled designer-entrepreneurs - especially those who entered this market during its early years of existence, motivated by their own experiences of being unable to find clothes which expressed both piety and desire to be fashionable - use distinctive strategies to carve a place for themselves in the market. They emphasise their own religiosity and, thus, sensibility to covering requirements and ability to choose materials, create garments and assemble outfits that respect them. They bring to the foreground specific acts of piety and the practice of piety. They portray themselves as pious Muslims. They stress that they are the only ones who do 'the right thing to do': their creations are not exclusively meant to elicit aesthetic appreciation and generate profit; they are also meant to reflect ethical consideration and contribute to ethical cultivation. Drawing upon interviews conducted with veiled designer-entrepreneurs in Istanbul, and on media and social media commentary on their work in particular and Islamic fashion in general, this paper focuses on how these veiled designer-entrepreneurs bring virtue in the marketplace and incessantly articulate and disarticulate morality and economy.

panel P70
Virtue in the marketplace