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Blending Muslim faith and modern fashion in Australia

Hijab House Source: SBS

Hijab House was among the country's first modest womens clothing outlets that offered modern choices for a growing local audience.

For Muslim women in Australia, blending faith and fashion hasn't always been easy.

Hijab House was among the country's first modest women’s clothing outlets that offered modern choices for a growing local audience.

It's Eid sale time at Hijab House, and that means a very busy time for business-owner Tarik Houchar - "It's chaotic. We have had people fight over the clothes."

In one day they'll spend, collectively, more than $100,000 shopping for the outfits they'll wear to celebrate the end of Ramadan - "It's just a really crazy sale and if you think about Boxing Day sales, it is about double that intensity."

Tarik found the inspiration for Hijab House on a shopping trip with his sister - "There was literally nothing available for her, the colours weren't matched to her preferences - it was all black."

And for this designer, that wasn't good enough - he wanted Muslim women to enjoy fashion too, and so he started Hijab House.

His many customers are happy he did - "It was just very plain colours but now because of the stylists and stuff and the younger generation involved as well, it is just beautiful stuff."

He opened the doors in 2011, only to close them again two years later as overheads crept up - "Once we closed the stores, a lot of the customers realised how important Hijab House was to the community and how valued our products were."

Two years later, Hijab House is well and truly open for business, selling more than 100,000 hijabs a year.

With a 300 per cent mark up on each one, the business is bringing in half a million dollars annually, and Tarik has big plans for growth - "So I guess a short-term financial goal would be to develop a business that turns over about five million dollars annually and in terms of longer term, visionary goals, we would just want to be the biggest fast fashion retailer for modest-dressing women."

Despite higher costs Hijab House manufactures 30 per cent of its garments at its factory in Sydney, allowing for a faster turnaround during the busy period of Ramadan, when the business makes 75 per cent of its annual sales.

And social media plays a huge role year-round.

Hijab House has 300,000 followers on Facebook and another 200,000 on Instagram.

But its popularity has also made the business, and its owner, a target - "Someone had gone into our account, changed all our passwords and began systematically deleting all our photos and replacing them with Donald Trump propaganda or American political propaganda videos, guns, money, so very kind of anti-Islamic messages."

After four years, Tarik has become accustomed to defending his designs and his customers - "What we need to understand is that for a lot of Muslim girls putting on the hijab is extremely difficult in a country like Australia, where people see the hijab as a form of oppression."

He is doing his best to change that perception, as his loyal customers queue for the latest colours and styles of the season - "You have a choice whether to shut down or keep fighting for the people and the customers you love."