Fashion is not just about how to look good, but it is about how to feel good with those values, and how to do good.

The Islamic Designers Festival was a star-studded, stylish occasion, which offered with it a vast array of clothes for the consumer’s choosing; intricately-designed blouses, lines of scarves and clothes by various celebrities not excluding Elfira Loy and Dynas Mokhtar. One face that stood out easily from the crowd was one that exuded a radiance that invited nothing but the turning of many heads.

Diajeng Lestari carried herself in a manner so humble but stylish all the same; No one could miss her. As she walked up onto the stage and sat with Filah, the modulator for the sharing session, she invited inevitable and awestruck applause from those who were present to listen. Empower You, #EmpowerChange was the overall theme for the talk, and naturally so, the CEO of Hijup answered the influx of questions from Filah with nothing less than the wisdom of a Muslim woman.

Filah: Tell us a little about the history of Hijup.

PHOTO: The Hijup booth in all its stylish glory at the Islamic Designers Festival 2017. | Muslyfe

It started out in 2011, we were just a small business back then, based in a 9 squared-metre space. My husband had just started an online business, and I was inspired by him. I also remember that our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and Siti Khadijah were both entrepreneurs too. In this globalisation and capitalistic era, I feel that the mindset needs to be changed (where business and entrepreneurship is concerned); Capitalism should not be the overall basis of entrepreneurship and economy, which is why I turn to the Islamic definition of economy instead. Islamic economy is capitalism, yes, but it is capitalism with ethics; in Islam, there are a lot of aspects like Sedaqah and Zakah. It is not just about gaining, but it is about sharing. It is about how we make an impact with what we do.

Hijup launched the #EmpowerChange campaign last year. What is it about?

PHOTO: Diajeng Lestari inspiring the audience with her words of wisdom. | Muslyfe

We want to emphasize certain values, for we are a company that is rooted on the maintaining of three traits: Trusted, helpful and powerful. We want to have values that are based on the personality of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, that is Fathonah, Siddiq, Amanah and Tabligh.

It is important to be trustworthy, because it is an essential to become professional. We want to be helpful because our company offers online services and we want the customers to receive their good quality products fast. When it comes to empowering and inspiring others, I would say Muslim women, we have a lot of tools to inspire others, one of them being that we can become mothers; a good mother can change the world through nurturing good personalities in her children. And if we contribute to society, for example, by working for the government with the application of good Islamic values, a positive impact to the society will be the result.

Women already possess the appropriate tools to change the world for the better. All it takes is to apply good values, those of which have already been stated by the Islamic faith.

That means whatever we do is always to contribute to society, right?

Yes. When it comes to fashion, it is all about identity- It is all about character. Muslim women have a lot of roles; not only can we become housewives, for there are also Muslim women scientists, actors. With the possession of Islamic values and with that, their own personalities, they are able to express themselves. They can spread positivity through their characters. Fashion is not just about how to look good, but it is about how to feel good with those values, and how to do good. That way, we can contribute to society and change it to be better.

(In your opinion,) [h]ow does the fashion industry give an impact to society?

Fashion gives new opportunities to the new generation to contribute in terms of developing the economy. As an example, before, in the early 2000s, the hype around Muslim fashion did not exist. Now, however, be it in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and everywhere, a lot of Muslim women have entered into the fashion industry and have contributed whether as entrepreneurs, fashion designers, models, photographers, stylists- Fashion offers new jobs to the new generation. Halal jobs.

PHOTO: Filah (L) listening intently to Diajeng Lestari (R) as she talked about Empower You, #EmpowerChange. | Muslyfe

Fashion is interesting as it can be the locomotive that easily drives past the other fields of Islamic economy like Halal foods, for example. Fashion is the most interesting field of Islamic economy for a lot of designers are actors and celebrities who have moved towards expanding their brand through Islamic fashion. They become icons and can impact and inspire others to enter the Islamic lifestyle.

What is the difference between Islamic fashion and modest fashion?

The difference is the Syariah compliance part. Modest fashion is Kate Middleton or Oprah Winfrey. Islamic fashion however contains several rules, rules of which are interpreted differently in different cultures. African tribes would cover up with turbans, Saudi Arabias would have their own way of covering up as well as South East Asians. There might be more colours in the clothes of South East Asians when the Saudi Arabians would be more inclined to styling themselves in a lot of black. I think it’s part of knowing the different cultures in different societies. Overall, however, Islamic fashion is basically Syariah compliant in terms with the Aurah. Modesty, in fact, is just one of the many traits of Islamic fashion.

What does Hijup wish to achieve with the #EmpowerChange mission?

PHOTO: The details on one of the many scarves on display at the Hijup booth at the Islamic Designers Festival 2017. | Muslyfe

To #EmpowerChange is what we want to instill and share to others. Islamic fashion is different than the ‘common’ kind of fashion in a sense that the focus of Islamic fashion is the creation of characters. It is mentioned in the Al-Qur’an in the Surah Al-A’raf, verse 26, whereby yes, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala provides to us these clothes to cover our Aurah and as means to adorn ourselves and make us feel better but the most basic fundamental to clothes is the characters- The Taqwa.

That is how Islamic fashion is different; the part about character. This is why we began delivering the Hashtag #EmpowerChange. Taqwa is basically changing something bad into something good, e.g. When we carry out Ibadah, whether social or personal, the basic goal is to change something into better conditions; When we do the Sholah, it is ultimately turning all negative energy into good energy, which is good for us. We are turning something into something better. The same goes to entrepreneurship, for it has the ability to make the economy better.

How do you apply the vision of #EmpowerChange to not only your external audience but also to your Hijup support?

The Hijup internal support has its own values called LORD, where the L stands for lean meaning efficient. We try to apply the Barakah concept so that even with low efforts we can attain high results. The concept of Barakah is basically to have as minimal wastage as possible. The O is for Open, that is, open to positive communication, to listening and gaining insight from others and to learning from other people. The R is for Result-Oriented; to be focused on goals. The D is for Dynamic. In this time and age where we revolve around globalisation, you have to be able to adapt easily, to think out of the box. This motto we follow, all while keeping the Almighty Lord in our hearts.

What kind of Muslim woman do you envision to carry the spirit of #EmpowerChange?

There are a lot of Muslim women. There was Khadijah, there was Aisyah. In this modern era, a lot of Muslim women are actively contributing to society. Back in Indonesia, there is this one personality, Bu Tri Mumpuni, a scientist who contributed into providing renewable energy in the form of hydroelectricity to half a million Indonesians. The kind of sacrifice and devotion she had are the kinds of characteristics that can have an impact towads people.

As for role models, I look up to Siti Khadijah. Aside from being the first ever Muslim, she was also an entrepreneur way back then. Even back then, she possessed all the characteristics of the ideal woman entrepreneur that is discussed everywhere in forums, workshops and sharing sessions.

What are your plans for Hijup in 2017?

To spread Hijup all over the world and not just in Indonesia. We want to branch out to not just Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, but hopefully to other parts of the world too.

Muslyfe: You’ve mentioned that Islamic entrepreneurship is based on the spirit of sharing. Have you always had a passion for sharing? When it comes to fashion, most would not want to share in terms of their looks and their style, so how do you maintain that spirit of sharing?

PHOTO: Not only does Hijup cater to womenswear, its spirit of sharing includes those of the opposite gender too. | Muslyfe

Islamic fashion does not emphasized on looks. The goal is to be closer to God. To share is part of Ibadah, and dressing up and looking good is part of Ibadah too, that is if we dress correctly.

Hijup is involved in a lot of collaborations. In Indonesia we collaborate with celebrities, for example, to build schoolhouses. I think it (sharing through Islamic fashion) is more to making us feel fuller. Yes, it is good to look good and feel fashionable but there is more to it than just that in Islamic fashion. The aim is not to just to look good, but to build a good character. Looking good is only a part of building our character, in a sense that when we look good it can improve our mood, make us feel positive, confident and thus we are able to give the best of ourselves to contribute to society.