Hijab House was one of the first Australian Muslim women’s fashion retailers to open inside a mainstream shopping centre. The flagship store opened in Bankstown Centro, Sydney, in September 2010 and in the following April, a second store opened in Stockland Mall Merrylands.
Owner Tarik Houchar has set out to create a sophisticated, modern take on what it’s like to be a fashionable young Muslim woman living in the 21st century, through striking fashion shoots and the careful coordination of marketing images and the colour palette of their in-store products.
Unlike the more traditional Muslim women’s clothing retailer, which typically stocks and displays imported garments in bulk, Hijab House makes shopping more convenient by packaging and marketing their products as ‘essentials on the run’. Staple wardrobe items like the popular long T-shirt abaya, cap and headscarf are sold in beautifully decorated boxes, on ring hooks or in transparent pouches.
Hijab House is Sydney based but retails to a global market through an online store and Facebook. The design and contents of the more recently opened Merrylands store have been influenced by customer feedback on Facebook, with wider aisles to accommodate prams, garments organised according to colours, patterns and trends, and larger changing rooms. “We really like to push retail boundaries and peoples’ expectations… we listen to our customers’ suggestions and include them in our future plans”, says Tarik Houchar.
In their own words
“We want to change the way this product has been sold for centuries. our vision is to cheer up the world of hijab.”
“We received mixed responses when Hijab House first opened. The general public were afraid to see a hijab store smack bang in the middle of a shopping mall, while the Muslim community thought we were too expensive just based on our look. We worked very hard to get people into the store, so we held tea party events that tied in with our promotion, we held charity events, we continuously worked on our Facebook page to give the hijab a beautiful and a really approachable context.”
“We were walking in Darling Harbour one day and saw a sculpture with big metal rings attached. And I thought customers could buy a scarf on a ring and the ring could actually become the handle for the box so they can walk out with a really nice box and a ring they can use at home as a scarf hangar. So no more of this digging through piles of fabric or rushing to three different stores to find an outfit. We really are starting to push the convenience factor, and again, that is what separates us from different hijab stores.”
“The modesty comes from the fit and the cut. We make sure the garments are not transparent or tight fitting and we make sure they are long. The fashionable side of it comes from the prints and stories that we give to our garments.”
“Our ‘You’re Late for Tea’ collection was very playful, very pretty, based around an Alice in Wonderland story. I think when you give attention to that kind of detail, the customer really responds to that. They get engaged in the excitement and in the story itself.”