Cosmic Cook recently asked me where I buy my hijabs from as I have built up such a collection over the last 10 years or so. I have to say as the availability of scarves and pashmina’s has grown over the years, my sources have changed, and I have learned a few lessons over the years too.
Green Street, London E7 – this had to be number one on the list. There are shops all the way up and down this long street selling hijabs of all kinds, from clothing retailers and Islamic shops to street stalls.
Nayab - (260 Green Street, London E7 8LF) – This shop on Green street sells mainly pashmina’s in wool and viscose mixes. They range from simple ones for about £3 upwards to about £30 for ones with diamante and beadwork. Another shop on the same street called Poshak Mahal is owned by the same people.
Momin’s - (The Exchange Mall, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1RS) – I am pretty sure that this shop is also owned by the same people who own Nayab, as they seem to have the same stock. This group of shops also sells raw silk scarves for £8 in every colour, so if I have a special occasion, I sometimes go to one of these to match a scarf to my abayah.
Wallis – A more recent find as I don’t think they stocked pashmina’s previously, but seems everyone is now jumping onto the bandwagon alhamdulillah. Wallis pashmina’s cost about £15-18, but usually go down to about £5-3 in the sale, so it is worth waiting. I bought these linen ones from there last year for £3 each.
Clarks in Ashford – Clarkes usually only sell shoes and a few bags, but I have visited their discount outlet a few times at the Ashford Designer Outlet and they have a stand full of scarves. Most of them are very lightweight cotton ones, but I found a few heavier pashmina’s last year for £6. I went back this year and they were still there on clearance at £3. Below were the ones I bought last year. The lighter-weight printed ones did not wash so well.
Accessorize – this shops sells very pretty pashmina’s for about £20 for a plain one which feels a bit pricey, but the quality is nice. They tend to be a bit heavy and warm to wear as a headscarf, so I usually buy these only as an occasional gift for my mum or mum-in-law.
Tie-rack – probably the most readily available source of hijabs on the high street. This was place where I bought some of my first ones as there was not such a trend or so many sources when I started wearing hijab. I do find them pricey though and the hijab sizes are not always quite right. The squares are too small, more suitable for wearing around the neck and the pashmina-type shawls too big and bulky to wrap round your head.
H&M – I’m sure that at one point this was one of the most hijab-friendly shops around with its eclectic mix of long-sleeve tops and maxi dresses and items that could be easily layered. They were also one of the first to stock scarves and pashmina’s and pretty hairpins that I used to keep my hijab in place. Recently I have found they are becoming more random and skimpy in their choice of clothing (a bit like TopShop style changed over the years).
Budget High Street – Peacocks, Primark, Ethel Austin and Risky all sell pashmina-type shawls now for about £2-£8. The quality is usually poor and the designs usually a bit too out there to wear on your head (skulls, neon, Palestinian shemagh/keffiyeh style, loud checks etc). If you are keen you sometimes find a gem amongst the junk. I bought a cotton leopard-print sarong from Peacocks over ten years ago that I still have and fold to wear as a hijab.
Al-Hijab – I have ordered a few scarves from here before. They are priced reasonably and delivery is quick. The designs are simple and not so much my style, but the quality is good enough.
E-bay – there are about a gazillion e-bay shops now selling pashmina’s so you can go to the site and just not know where to start. So it is better going here if you know exactly what you want rather than hunt around. The other thing is to know your sizes and fabrics. A scarf might look nice but turn out tiny, so it is better to measure your scarves and set a minimum limit to the width and length of the scarves you are buying. If the seller has not listed this information, e-mail them and ask. Also a shawl might look nice, but turn up too gauzy or bulky to wear, so check what it is made of.
Some other things I have learned from buying and wearing hijab is that certain fabrics are more comfortable and sit better on your head. Cashmere and wool sound good but are heavy and can get very hot. Cashmere and silk mix on the other hand tends to be quite lightweight and easy to wrap. Viscose shawls are available everywhere and very cheap, but I tend to avoid them because the fabric bubbles and they get very creased. Silk scarves are usually lightweight and look the best, but need more care. They are easily ruined by hijab pins and so don’t always last long. They also are the most likely to slip, so look nice when you put them on, but half a day later when you pop to the loo to check, you are horrified to find it looking a mess. Chiffon and georgette – I can never remember which is which, but I think chiffon is slippery whereas georgette is slightly more textured so stays on better and lets the hijab pins and slides get a better grip. Both are lightweight.
I know this list isn’t much use outside London, so what would you suggest? Where are your favourite places to buy hijabs from?