Let Us Introduce You: Summer Albarcha

SLU blogger at the intersection of modesty, fashion

Courtesy of Summer Albarcha Instagram

Summer Albarcha believes that showing modesty and participating in the latest fashion trends can go hand in hand.

The freshman-business student has demonstrated her conviction on her popular fashion blog and Instagram account, titled “Hipster Hijabis,” where she models various trendy outfits, always paired with a head scarf, in order to pertain to the rules of Islam.

“I kind of combined the two words, ‘hipster’ and ‘hijabi,’ thinking someone who kind of bends the rules with fashion, but at the same time takes part in her religious views,” said Albarcha.

Albarcha started the website when she was 16 years old as a way to show her friends different styles and where to buy certain clothing. Three years later, her Instagram account has more than 50,000 followers, she’s been featured in major publications including the Huffington Post and she’s been asked to speak at fashion shows across the world.  Not only has her popularity and recognition grown over time, but her mission for blogging has as well.

“Being modest doesn’t mean you can’t take part in social norms, or just because you choose to be conservative doesn’t mean you can’t be social, approachable and ultimately, look cool,” said Albarcha.

Although “Hipster Hijabis” had been steadily growing since its creation, the site took-off when a controversy sparked after the blogger posted a picture modeling a green, ankle-length skirt.

Courtesy of Summer Albarcha

It was not a question of modesty that made the Instagram post so controversial, but rather it was the designers of the skirt: Mimu Maxi, an Orthodox Jewish clothing boutique.

The company took notice of Albarcha and her style of modest fashion. With similar goals regarding fashionable modesty, Mimu Maxi contacted Albarcha and asked if she would model one of their pieces on her blog.

“They sent me the skirt and I didn’t think twice because they were Jewish or Orthodox Jewish, I thought, ‘we both want to send the same message,’” said Albarcha.

But when Mimu Maxi reposted “Hipster Hijabis’” picture on their company’s Instagram, it created an issue for some of their followers.

“This happened during the Palestinian and Israeli conflict in Gaza during the summer of 2014, so there had been a lot of tension,” said Albarcha.

Some of Mimu Maxi’s Orthodox Jewish clientele said the boutique had been “insensitive” during that period of tension.

“Some people commented on (Mimu Maxi’s) post asking, ‘Why are you promoting terrorism?’ or ‘Why are you posting this in a time where we should be sticking together?’” said Albarcha.

The controversy gained a lot of attention after several media outlets, such as Daily Mail and Huffington Post, reported on the backlash.

Mimu Maxi spoke out on their Facebook page, saying that they supported their re-posting of Albarcha’s photograph.

“In times of upheaval, our unity and shared values–wherever they DO exist–should be highlighted and celebrated,” the company wrote in a statement.

Overall, Albarcha took a positive message from the controversy.

“It became a symbol that we both have the same mission, we’re not trying to outcast anyone just because of their faith, we both have a lot more commonalities than we do differences,” said Albarcha.

Image courtesy of Summer Alb archa

As a result of the controversy, Albarcha received an invitation to speak at the event, “Fashion Forward,” in Dubai this past October. Albarcha served on a panel with Middle Eastern fashion designers and other emerging fashion bloggers, and spoke about the role of modesty in modern fashion.

“I met a lot of really cool people and I learned a lot of things at the conference they had, like how to increase your blog views, how to become a designer, how to get your stuff out,” said Albarcha.

After attending “Fashion Forward,” Albarcha landed a job with the Dubai-based fashion company, Miella, contacting and advertising with other fashion blogs.

In the future, Albarcha hopes to be a fashion designer and run her own company. But until then, she continues to spread her message on “Hipster Hijabis” that one doesn’t need to sacrifice fashion in order to maintain modesty.

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