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Faith & Fashion

Published date
23 Apr 2019

FAITH & FASHION: Embodiment, Gender, and Religious Visibility, with the Woolf Institute, Cambridge

30 January 2019, 5-7pm.

LCF’s Professor Reina Lewis took Faith & Fashion to Cambridge, in a collaboration with the Woolf Institute to discuss the interplay of body management, gender, and religious cultures. Reina’s presentation on the politics of religious visibility through dress in the interfaith context, dovetailed with the research of Dr Kristin Aune from Coventry whose work on UK feminist approaches to religion and spirituality reveals the lived, embodied, and relational nature of religio-spirituality in contemporary life. From the Woolf Institute, Dr Lea Taragin-Zeller demonstrated the role of modesty and beauty practices in the construction of female piety among ultra-Orthodox teenagers in Israel. An international lens on the diverse personal, political, and style motivations for young women’s take up of modest dressing in the Middle East was provided by the session chair, academic and journalist Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad.

You can listen below to Reina and the panel in Cambridge as they discuss the body, gender, and religious cultures from a multi-faith and international comparative perspective.

Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition in San Francisco, with Yasmine Sobeih of Under-Rapt

20 September 2018

Consulting curator of Contemporary Muslim Fashions, Professor Reina Lewis, brings her public talk series Faith & Fashion from London College of Fashion to the de Young Museum to be in conversation with British designer Yasmin Sobeih, founder of UNDER-RÂPT featured in the exhibition.

Lewis is Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, and is a world-renowned authority on Muslim and modest fashion. Her books include Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures and Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Mediating Faith.

With a Masters degree in fashion buying and merchandising from London College of Fashion, Yasmin Sobeih was well-placed to discern a niche within a niche for active wear in the cross-faith modest fashion sector. Aware that the globally growing trend for athleisure wasn’t sufficiently meeting the needs of women from religious cultures who wanted to participate in sports, she set out with UNDER-RÂPT to provide modest sports and loungewear which was also organic and sustainably produced.

Join Reina and Yasmine and the audience in San Francisco as they discuss the relationship between fashion and faith, and the opportunities and challenges that the now global modest fashion infrastructure presents for independent brands.

Can faithful shoppers be shoppers of faith? How does religion relate to fashion? Can spirituality have style? Should the fashion industry respond to people who want to express their faith and spirituality through their clothes?

Artscom Centenary Professor of Cultural Studies Professor Reina LewisLondon College of Fashion brings together fashion designers and consumers, bloggers and journalists, educators and entrepreneurs, politicians and activists in a timely appraisal of these issues. With participants from secular and religious communities, Faith and Fashion provides an open forum for discussions about the opportunities - and the challenges - of melding religion with fashion.

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LGBTQ sexualities and religious cultures

16 November 2017

As Britain commemorates 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales, Faith and Fashion explored how and why queer visibility within religious communities remains rarely uncomplicated.

Despite the personal faith and participation of many LGBTQ individuals, most religious cultures and institutions have long suppressed and rejected queer behaviours and individuals. At the same time, religious sensibilities are having an increased impact on the previously secular presumptions of much LGBTQ activism.

Joining LCF’s Professor Reina Lewis to explore how the styled body figures in the relationship between religion, ethnicity, spirituality, and sexualities were: Asad Dhunna, founder of the Big Gay Iftar, hosting all faiths and none for a Ramadan meal during London Pride; the Reverend Sally Hitchiner, co-ordinator of Brunel University’s multifaith chaplaincy and Director of Diverse Church, for LGBT Christians throughout the UK and Ireland; and Dr Sarah-Jane Page, senior lecturer at Aston University, Birmingham, expert on the religious and sexual identities of young people from a range of religious traditions across the UK, and co-author of Religious and Sexual Identities: A Multi-faith Exploration of Young Adults (with Andrew Kay-Tuck Yip).

Dress, Politics, and Belonging post-Brexit

30 November 2016

Professor Reina Lewis brought Faith and Fashion to Asia House to discuss the heightened political significance of the religiously dressed body in post-Brexit Britain and beyond.

What does it mean to be a visible minority in a post-Brexit Britain given the rise in racism, anti-semitism and anti-Muslim prejudice increasingly evident in the West? LCF’s collaboration with Asia House will addressed this timely and important question, asking how people can negotiate dress as the UK moves into a new set of relationships with the EU and Europe, and therefore with Asia and the rest of the world.

Exploring the importance of appearance in debates about race, ethnicity, migration, religion, and national belonging Reina was joined by Jacqueline Nicholls, Jewish educator, internationally exhibited artist, and regular contributor to BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought; James Welch, legal director of Liberty; Ruth Yimika Awogbade, founder and editor of Magnify magazine, described by the Huffington Post as 'the Christian Women's Magazine breaking every stereotype’; and Elif Shafak, political columnist and best-selling author of award-winning titles such as The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour.

Faith and Fashion at Princeton University: Modest Fashion as Community and Commerce

13 November 2016

LCF’s Professor Reina Lewis took Faith and Fashion to Princeton University, USA, to explore the pleasures and pitfalls of ‘modest’ fashion as community and commerce in a collaboration with and the Princeton Muslim Life Program.

As increasing number of women around the world choose to dress in ways that express their religious beliefs and cultures, fashion blogger Whitney Bauck (, designers Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik (, and founder of media company The Tempest Laila Alawa ( considered the potential of fashion to encourage female participation in social and political life. In the week that Donald Trump won the American presidential election, rather than dismiss fashion as trivial we explore how fashion can develop women as influencers; able to negotiate scrutiny from within their religious communities and challenge prejudice from without.

  • Introduction: Sohaib N. Sultan, Imam and coordinator, Princeton Muslim Life Program, Reina Lewis, London College of Fashion, and Asma T. Uddin.
  • Panel 1: Life phases, regulation, resistance Speaker: Whitney Bauck,, Moderator: Asma T. Uddin,
  • Panel 2: Picturing modest fashion: creativity, careers, controversies Speaker: Laila Alawa,; Moderator: Reina Lewis, London College of Fashion.
  • Panel 3: Commodifying identity: faith, gender, race, sexuality Speaker: Mimi Hecht and MushkyNotik,, Moderator: Reina Lewis, London College of Fashion.
  • Panel 4: Concluding remarks and discussion, Laila Alawa, Whitney Bauck, Hassanah El-Yacoubi, Mimi Hecht, Reina Lewis, Mushky Notik, Sohaib N. Sultan and Asma T. Uddin.

Faith and Fashion in Beirut: Fashion, Design, Identity

26 May 2016

LCF’s Professor Reina Lewis took Faith and Fashion on the road to Beirut as part of a symposium organised in collaboration with Lebanese American University (LAU) for Beirut Design Week

Panel 1: Fashion Mediation: cultural translation of fashion and dress identities within and beyond the region

Chaired by Dr Yasmine Taan, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Design at the Lebanese American University, our first panel evaluated local fashion/arts education and the role of social enterprises in grafting a regional fashion culture attuned to social and environmental sustainability.

Joining Yasmine to explore the potential of the fashion community to preserve regional artisan skills by creating work ready to promote on the world stage were:

  • Ritu Upadhyay, Middle East correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily;
  • Johnny Farah, Founder and Designer of Johnny Farah;
  • Sarah Beydoun, Founder and Creative Director of social enterprise Sarah’s Bags.

Panel 2: FAITH AND FASHION: Fashion Politics: religious and regional taste cultures on the international market

Professor Reina Lewis brought the focus of Faith and Fashion to Beirut to explore dress politics for designers, entrepreneurs, journalists, and retailers in the local and regional fashionscape.

Joining Reina to investigate how local gender, religious, and ethnic considerations influence retail practice in the context of the global fashion industry’s recent construction of Muslims as a global consumer segment were:

  • Shelina Janmohamed, Vice President of Ogilvy Noor, an Islamic branding practice, and author of Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World;
  • Cynthia Chamat, Creative Director of Urban Sense retailer, Boutique Hub, Beirut;
  • Kendall Robbins, Fashion Programme Manager at British Council and regional expert.

Faith and Fashion in Montreal: Religion, Dress and Politics

16 March 2016

LCF’s Professor Reina Lewis took Faith and Fashion on the road to Montreal to focus on the fraught politics of dress and religion in the Quebec and Canadian contexts, in collaboration with DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art for a session held at Phi Centre, 407, Saint-Pierre, Montreal.

Joining Reina to discuss the impact of public debates about religiously related dress across the faiths were DHC/ART curator Dr Cheryl Sim; Professor Jasmin Zine of Wilfrid Laurier University, author of Islam in the Hinterlands: Muslim Cultural Politics in Canada; Professor Yasmin Jiwani of Concordia University, author of Faces of Violence in the Lives of Girls; and media artist Farheen HaQ, whose work explores cultural inscriptions of the body, ritual and gesture.

Ethics, Morality, Sustainability

24 February 2016

Joining LCF’s Professor of Cultural Studies Reina Lewis, creative entrepreneur Ayesha Mustafa, founder of socially conscious fashion brand Fashion ComPassion, and Professor Dilys Williams, Director of the LCF Centre for Sustainable Fashion, discuss the overlap between ethical and aesthetic standards.

As sustainable fashion goes mainstream, with a voice at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the panel examines how concern about the social and environmental impact of fashion has transformed from a minority preoccupation to a red carpet style trend? With growing numbers of people defining themselves as ‘spiritual not religious’, discussion explores whether ethical consumption provides a means of expressing moral values for those with and without formal religious affiliations?

Muslim Fashion: recent histories, future directions

20 October 2015

Reina Lewis, Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion, UAL, was joined by Shelina Janmohamed, Vice President of Ogilvy Noor Islamic branding practice, Marilyn Booth, Professor of the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at Oxford University, and Samia Khan and Adviya Khan, founders of modest style and lifestyle blog Hijablicious, to discuss the past, present, and future of Muslim Fashion.

To mark the publication of Reina’s new book Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures, the panel provided insights into the ways young Muslim women use multiple fashion systems to negotiate religion, identity, and ethnicity, investigating the pleasures and pitfalls of faith-related consumption.

Muslim/American Fashion with New York Public Radio

20 May 2015

Professor Reina Lewis took Faith & Fashion on the road from London College of Fashion to New York, to focus on the creativity and controversies that characterise Muslim fashion in America today. In collaboration with New York Public Radio, Reina hosted a panel discussion which was live streamed as part of Muslim/American, an interactive and intimate series of live performances in The Greene Space at WNYC.

The debate focused on the ways in which Muslims in America are contributing to and influencing fashion in its broadest sense, from modest dressing to Islamic and ethnic fashion. Reina was joined by the perfect style council, made up of Asma T Uddin, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of; fashion blogger and cultural commentator Nadia Azmy (Winnie Détwa) and designers Nyla Hashmi and Fatima Monkush, whose fashion brand Eva Khurshid New York (2009-11) provided modest yet fashion-forward clothing to New Yorkers and beyond.

You can also watch it again on

Faith and fashion on the school run

Thursday 12 March 2015

With the increase in faith schools, uniforms are often asked to do more than simply ensure that students are neat and tidy and easily recognisable. For faith schools, uniforms may serve to ensure adherence – or, at least, the appearance of adherence - to religiously related codes of conduct and modesty, for teachers and parents as well as students. Professor Reina Lewis of the London College of Fashion brings her Faith and Fashion series to JW3 in North London to discuss what constitutes today's school wardrobe.

Joining Reina to consider the nuance of school wear, are Claire Drucquer, a religious studies teacher who, as schools coordinator for Three Faiths Forum, works with people of all faiths and beliefs to build new intercommunal relationships, Patrick Moriarty, the Headteacher of JCoSS, the UK’s first pluralist Jewish Secondary School who has a keen interest in interfaith dialogue, Aliya Azam, Head of Science at the Al Sadiq and Al Zahra Schools, whose interfaith activities include being Shia Co-President of the Christian Muslim Forum, and Rachel Fink, Headteacher of Hasmonean High School (Girls), currently participating in Cambridge’s interfaith Coexist Leadership Programme.

What to wear when you work for God

27 November 2014

In the context of breaking news that the Anglican Church has decided to allow women to become bishops, Professor Reina Lewis explores how a pioneering generation of women across the faiths have been developing vocational and professional dress for religiously related roles.

Reina is joined by the Reverend Sally Hitchiner, Anglican priest, broadcaster, and head of the largest multi faith university chaplaincy in Europe; by Sister Christine Frost who, as a member of the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus, does not wear a habit in her teaching and community work in London’s East End; and by Amra Bone from Birmingham, Muslim chaplain, teacher, consultant on Islam and education, inter-faith community organiser, and currently the only woman in Europe to sit on a sharia council.

Roadshow: Writing Fashion, Styling Faith, Making Communities

27 September 2014

Professor Reina Lewis took Faith and Fashion on the road to the Bradford Literature Festival, where she was joined by Samia Khan and Adviya Khan, founders of modest fashion lifestyle blog Hijablicious, to explore how writers and readers of religiously related fashion blogs are melding literary and visual expression.

With Samia and Adviya providing inspirational advice about how to get the best from your blog, the panel discussed how social media creates new forms of dialogue about style and identity for the modern world.

Men, Fashion, Faith: the missing link?

22 May 2014

Reina Lewis was joined by Sikh blogger Pardeep Singh Bahra of Singh Street Style and Peter Hopkins, Professor of Social Geography at Newcastle University, to explore masculinity, modesty and modishness.

Remedying the tendency to see contemporary trends in religiously related fashion as a girls-only pursuit, the panel explore how religious and ethnic identities are communicated and contested through men’s wardrobe choices. In the run up to the London Collections: Men, panellist and audience contributors consider how design innovation can serve men’s diverse religious needs and the potential of style cultures for social empowerment.

Branding Modesty for Nation: Indonesian Muslim fashion as national asset

6 March 2014

Reina Lewis was joined by designer and social media star Dian Pelangi and cultural anthropologist and Indonesian fashion expert Professor Carla Jones of the University of Colorado to discuss how the promotion of Muslim fashion by the Indonesian government is changing the market for designers and dressers.

Tracking new trends in Muslim modest fashion, the trio reflect on the revaluation of modest fashion as an Indonesian asset, evaluate its impact at home, and explore whether such an approach might develop elsewhere.

British Asian Design: many faiths, many styles, many meanings

25 November 2013

Reina Lewis was joined by designer and entrepreneur Mani Kohli and Asiana Wedding magazine editor Anisha Vasani to explore how British South Asian fashion caters to different religions and ethnicities, creating diaspora designs that trend around the world.

Launched twenty five years ago, Kohli’s Khubsoorat collection has amassed loyal fans from Britain to Bollywood, whilst as editor of Asiana Wedding magazine and now also at Asiana TV, Vasani has had a front row seat on the Asian fashion scene, determining trends and building markets.

Arab design on the international modest fashion market

25 June 2013

Held in conjunction with the Shubbak festival of contemporary Arab culture. Reina Lewis, Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion discusses the importance of fashion in cultural as well as commercial exchanges with Emirati-Afghan designer Rabia Zargarpur, of Rabia Z., and British blogger Jana Kossaibati of hijabstyle.

With Rabia providing the inside scoop on developments in the Gulf fashion industry, from taste trends to infrastructure, the panel discussed how in the often highly charged debates about dress, identity, region, and religion, clothes carry ideas as well as aesthetics, with styles moving across markets not just as products on sale but as images in blogs and social media. Exploring how garments like the abaya are changing in design and use in the Gulf and in Britain, the panel and audience contributors consider if and how fashion plays a role in faith, and whether and how this is legible to different observers.

A new language for women’s interfaith dialogue

5 March 2013

Chaired by Reina Lewis, Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion, with panellists Debbie Danon, from the Three Faiths Forum, Janet Adler of Women’s Interfaith Network, and designer Barjis Chohan.

The panel explores why and how fashion has become central to the expression of personal faith, spirituality, and ethics for women from many different faiths and for women who see themselves as secular. Speakers and respondents discuss how fashion education can work with students, schools, and communities to turn this enthusiasm into career opportunities, demonstrating that design initiative can go hand in hand with personal and spiritual integrity.