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Islam. The Meaning of Style

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The title of this paper is a reference to Dick Hebdige’s famous book Subculture. The Meaning of Style, which was published in 1979 and became one of the most influential works to emerge from the legendary Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS). Hebdige’s study explores the subversive implications of style in post-war British subcultures. The purpose of the following article is to apply his ideas on subculture and style to the discourse on fashion and Islam, with a particular focus on the debate over “modest fashion” in Turkey. Hebdige’s approach will be utilized here principally in order to explore the representation of Islam in fashion and to critically reflect upon the ideological dimensions of “modest fashion”. The present author argues that “modest fashion”, as represented in everyday dress, fashion and lifestyle magazines, advertisements, and fashion shows, is exemplary of the breakdown of consensus among pious Muslims in present-day Turkish society. Furthermore, this article aims to strengthen and reflect upon the use of semiotics in the field of Islamic studies. It draws on data collected during the first international Istanbul Modest Fashion Week held in Istanbul’s historic Haydarpaşa Train Station on 13 and 14 May 2016, as well as on journal articles, media contributions, fashion advertisements, and interviews conducted by the author with fashion designers, influencers, and the organizers of the Istanbul Modest Fashion Week.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany,


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