I’ll Show You Islamic Hood (ie)

Sepia Post2.jpg Our recently retired around the way desi girl made a come back this past week in New York. Not in music, but in fashion. Yes, the queen of sparkly spandex and fake purple flowers on derby hats debuted her new line at same time as New York’s Fashion Week.

As promised, M.I.A. has launched her limited-edition clothing line, and the “Okley Run” store is open for business on her Web site. While the prints are pretty much as outlandish as you expect, the prices for each individual piece are a bit insane—and not in the “clashing colors that actually look better and better the more you focus on their dissonance” way, or even the Crazy Eddie way*. [idolator]

A quick glance of the online store had me come to a screeching halt — directly on the image of a sweatshirt labeled, “Islamic Hoodie.” It could be that the fasting from Ramadan has me extra sensitive, but it seems that everywhere I look I see images of hijabs as the latest fashion icon. I saw it on a shirt at a festival last week, and now this. On the Okley Run site the image of the sweatshirt could not be enlarged but I did see the eyes of a woman in niqab with what seemed like an explosion over her head. Could that really be what she was trying to say? What could M.I.A. have meant by this logo?

This would take some investigative blogging. The image on her site was simply not clear enough to decipher. Luckily, I just happen to live in one of the two cities where Opening Ceremony, the only store carrying her line retail, is – Los Angeles. Sepia Post3.jpg

I checked it out this past Sunday. The store was ridiculously pretentious, and M.I.A.’s clothing line stood out clearly amongst the sea of black. A few things about her clothing line…

a) It feels cheap. You know how it looks like it should be printed on American Apparel softness? In reality it feels gritty and like the lowest quality generic Hanes T-shirt.

b) It is expensive. $190 for a hoodie? $210 for the Mexico jacket which really just looks like a rug cut-up? Are you kidding me? $70 for a tank top?

c) The silk screened ink looks like it’d wash off after a couple of runs in the laundry.

d) Only Hollywood hipsters would be suckers enough to throw down that kind of money for that poor quality clothing. I think M.I.A. knows this and is brilliant to gimmick herself like this. (I must admit, I almost got suckered into buying her watermelon sweatshirt.)

We snuck into the dressing room, took some pictures, got told we couldn’t take the pictures and ran out before the camera could be confiscated. All that so that I could get this image for you.

Image Only Sepia Post.jpg

Upon closer inspection I realized that it was not a bomb exploding over the niqab-ed eyes, but a thought bubble exploding or as some friends have pointed out, the Yo MTV Raps logo upside down. For some reason, that made me feel a little better. I have my own theories of what the image is trying to say – but I want to throw it out to the Mutiny — what do you think M.I.A. is trying to say with this image?

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About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

38 thoughts on “I’ll Show You Islamic Hood (ie)

  1. “Y’all were some suckers. Now…kiss the ring…and buy some Downy.”

    If these are the only places where this will be sold and the prices are to be constant, which refugees are going to be able to afford those?

    It’s telling that she’s less grounded in the karmic apparel arts than Stephon Marbury (who can credibly be accused of regularly losing his moral moorings.)

    the only reason to buy this shit is if you have a penchant for performance art and have some digestive system effluvium at the ready.

  2. The Ts don’t even look that good. Who buys them? Anyway, I don’t know M.I.A. at all. So don’t know what she’s thinking. It’s just gimmicky.

  3. Random thoughts.
    1. That’s a rather lumpy muffintop in the bottom picture. Vel done. It makes me feel good about my rotundity.
    2. niqab-y grrl is just thinking about her meal of cuttlefish at the local chinese deli. it’s ramadan and she craves some barbecue meat.
    3. $190 for a hoodee is a-ok, because the target market eats organic banana and probiotic yogurt, so it has virtuosity and money to spare. it vill go vell with their fashionable velvet che beret.

  4. What is M.I.A. trying to say with these clothes? That because people everywhere think her vaguely anti-establishment messages are cool, despite the fact she is a major recording artist who is marrying the son of the owner of a major label, we should buy this overpriced crap to show our solidarity and hipster street cred.

  5. I love MIA’s music and have given Kala a good pounding on my stereo. Me and my bf had discussed how fabulous it would be to rock MIA gear … but c’mon this is ridiculous. If your going to charge me $70 for a tank-top it better have some serious attention to detail – which I dont see her line having. Her t-shirt is comparable in price to designer gear like DG or Guicci – how’s that for irony?

  6. Hipsters will eat this up. I don’t understand her political Agenda. Her music has always sounded ‘gibberish’ on dope beats. Overall i hate the hipster gear that goes with her music. I purposely give angry stares to any whiteboy wearing a PLO scarf, they start thinking i’m muslim or some sh!t and avoid eye-contact. Oh how the tables have turned.

  7. what do you think M.I.A. is trying to say with this image?

    There are lots of voices in her head – the voices of culture, religion, parents, government, etc. and then there is the one voice from above….and it all means nothing. Also there’s a bit of hippy lettering and geometrical symmetry action….and it all means nothing.

    1. That’s a rather lumpy muffintop in the bottom picture. Vel done. It makes me feel good about my rotundity.

    khoof, that’s a pair of hands shoved in the pocket of the hoodie not love handles.

  8. khoof, that’s a pair of hands shoved in the pocket of the hoodie not love handles.

    i know bess-dude. :-) I just like goading taz-dude. goad. goad. hehe

  9. I think this is some kind of social experiment- trends, music, hipsterdom, money, privilege, rebellion, whatever…charging insane prices for this stuff has to be some kind of stunt.

  10. 8 · glass houses said

    hipsters = the end of the world

    http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html

    You have GOT TO be kidding me! Those co-opting jerks at AdBusters are now railing against the very culture they helped create?

    Thomas Frank (yes, THE Thomas Frank) was questioning the “counterculture’s” subversive claims all through the late 80s and 90s. Most recently, a couple of Canadian cultural critics had another go at debunking the myth of AdBusters and counter-cultural “rebellion” with their book The Rebel Sell. The book’s official site is down for maintenance but here are a couple of reviews: one, two.

    AdBusters‘s opportunism infuriates me, but I shouldn’t be surprised that they’ve once again co-opted a legitimate critque about 10 years too late, edited out their own complicity, put it in a slick package, and sold it off to the very people they claim to critique. AdBusters is the apex of capitalism! To quote Andrew Potter and Joseph Heath:

    September 2003 marked a turning point in the development of Western Civilization. It was the month that Adbusters magazine started accepting orders for the black spot sneaker, it’s own signature brand of subversive running shoes. After that day, no rational person could possibly believe that there’s any tension between mainstream and alternative culture. After that day, it became obvious to everyone that cultural rebellion, of the type epitomized by Adbusters magazine, is not a threat to the system, it is the system.
  11. Hm. The picture reminds me of the suicide bombing scene in the French parlor from the Battle of Algiers.

  12. b) It is expensive. $190 for a hoodie? $210 for the Mexico jacket which really just looks like a rug cut-up? Are you kidding me? $70 for a tank top? c) The silk screened ink looks like it’d wash off after a couple of runs in the laundry. d) Only Hollywood hipsters would be suckers enough to throw down that kind of money

    hollywood hipsters AND hank paulson.

  13. niqab woman’s thoughts have been erased by the patriarchal society which forces her into submission.

    HEY, I’m not saying that. It’s the T Shirt.

  14. You know what woulda been DOPE?

    Her neon color palette on some goddamn appa and dahl.

    I’d rock that shit on a tanktop all damn day!!!

  15. $190 for a hoodie? Forget that. I’ll go to Kmart and buy some LL Cool J gear for a tenth of that price.

  16. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was not a bomb exploding over the niqab-ed eyes, but a thought bubble exploding or as some friends have pointed out, the Yo MTV Raps logo upside down. For some reason, that made me feel a little better. I have my own theories of what the image is trying to say – but I want to throw it out to the Mutiny — what do you think M.I.A. is trying to say with this image?

    It’s funny that you read it in terms of Islam, because it looks like a typical black-mask revolutionary figure type (Subcomandante Marcos, etc.) to me. But if it is combined with hijab, I guess (good catch). So I would go with Frantz Fanon’s Algerian woman / Palestinian female suicide bomber iconography? I figure also it’s both a bomb/idea to illustrate the power of ideas and get away with being an armchair (or studiochair) revolutionary.

    But her commercialize-the-revolution politics aside, it’s a nice hoodie :)

  17. 26 · Dr Amonymous said

    <

    blockquote>

    Upon closer inspection I realized that it was not a bomb exploding over the niqab-ed eyes, but a thought bubble exploding or as some friends have pointed out, the Yo MTV Raps logo upside down. For some reason, that made me feel a little better. I have my own theories of what the image is trying to say – but I want to throw it out to the Mutiny — what do you think M.I.A. is trying to say with this image?
    It’s funny that you read it in terms of Islam, because it looks like a typical black-mask revolutionary figure type (Subcomandante Marcos, etc.) to me. But if it is combined with hijab, I guess (good catch). So I would go with Frantz Fanon’s Algerian woman / Palestinian female suicide bomber iconography? I figure also it’s both a bomb/idea to illustrate the power of ideas and get away with being an armchair (or studiochair) revolutionary.
    But her commercialize-the-revolution politics aside, it’s a nice hoodie :)

    For me to have shat on.

  18. For me to have shat on.

    That was actually quite good grammar! But seriously, do you not like the hoodie? I think it’s ugly and yet I find it strangely appealing for some reason. I think it’s the colors and the sacred geometry, as some friends would say.

  19. 28 · Dr Amonymous said

    For me to have shat on.
    That was actually quite good grammar! But seriously, do you not like the hoodie? I think it’s ugly and yet I find it strangely appealing for some reason. I think it’s the colors and the sacred geometry, as some friends would say.
    I’m no Project Runway–my fashion sense is justifiably limited to the Many Shades of Drab collection. It’s more the pricing, poor texture, and half-hearted attempt at subversion.
  20. It’s more the pricing, poor texture, and half-hearted attempt at subversion.

    Yeah, I wasn’t saying I would buy it :) But if someone gave it to me 2nd hand, I might wear it around the house.

    I fully agree with the commodify-your-dissent criticism, but I think people miss part of the subverison thing- that she’s an outspoken working class British Asian is the more subversive part. Think more Lady Sovereign and less Che Guevara in terms of comparison. Of course, that she’s producing a clothing line now isn’t helping ;)

  21. I think it’s ugly and yet I find it strangely appealing for some reason.

    It’s cuz I’m wearing it.

    (ohnoshedi’int)

  22. 31 · Taz said

    I think it’s ugly and yet I find it strangely appealing for some reason.
    It’s cuz I’m wearing it. (ohnoshedi’int)

    Nah. I must have been picturing someone else in it.

    :P

    On an aside, have you ever tried googling the phrase “aunty video”? Oedipal complex? Or what? Porn is complicated, but, seriously, porn is complicated.

    Aunty G.

  23. It’s funny that you read it in terms of Islam, because it looks like a typical black-mask revolutionary figure type (Subcomandante Marcos, etc.) to me.

    The eyes look like clip art similar to the one used here.

  24. 34 · bess said

    It’s funny that you read it in terms of Islam, because it looks like a typical black-mask revolutionary figure type (Subcomandante Marcos, etc.) to me.
    The eyes look like clip art similar to the one used here.

    Where is that from bess? Is it a pastiche of Orientalist art? It’s an interesting thing to look at when you have no clue what it’s about :)

  25. Islamic Hood niqab is the best thing 4 women no one dare to say bad thing about it coz its their custom and its really reduce prostitutes and adultery which bad thing in my view coz many things bad happened after that thank you guys

  26. In light of the new marketing gimmick she pulled with her niqab and abaya outfit and the Scream Awards I think that maybe this was just a party of the plan. I suppose hoodie wearers could chose what the wanted their niqabi to say by writing in her thoughts on the cartoon bubble above her had. After all why talk to a niqabi and find out who she is and what she is about when you can just use her as some voiceless icon to promote your cause or music. I think Faiqa’s statement is closer to the truth about what M.I.A. and people in general think about woman who wear niqab.

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