Hanna Da’Mes, Staff Writer|
Lisa Vogl, former student at Daytona State College (DSC), 35, dropped out of school one course short of graduating in order to pursue a career in fashion photography. In 2011, she converted to Islam, which has influenced her work immensely. She later began working on a clothing line in 2015 that would provide affordable yet stylish conservative clothing specifically marketed towards Muslim women. She launched Verona Collection with designer Alaa Ammuss, which sold conservative clothing and hijabs online.
However, that wasn’t enough. In February 2018, Vogl worked with Macy’s to incorporate conservative women’s clothing that would appeal to women who practice Islam. In addition to the modest clothing, Vogl implemented an assortment of hijabs into the store, the first time ever that a woman has made hijabs ready for sale in a department store.
Many critics took to Twitter to voice their opposition to Macy’s selling of hijabs. A Twitter user wrote, through what they assume is accurate and helpful social activism, “#Macy’s stores adds the oppressive islamic Hijab as a new fashion statement. ARE U KIDDING? While other women are being murdered over trying to NOT WEAR IT??? @Macys has gone MAD!” This tweet exhibits a distinct lack of research into the reasons for Macy’s decision to sell hijabs. Lisa Vogl was inspired by a diversity workshop, run by the department store ,as well as willingness to make the products more accessible to a variety of people. Vogl had a desire to wear conservative clothing, and wanted to provide it fashionably for herself and others. Another Twitter user wrote, “this makes me sick. #Macy’s CLUELESS of what’s going on in #Iran and women’s rights there. Shame on you @Macys Women in Iran DON’T want to wear the #hijab. It’s a symbol of oppression to them.”
Vogl stressed the need for a better understanding of the Islamic faith in fashion. For many, wearing modest clothing and even the hijab is a choice determined by the interpretation of the religion. It does not in any way symbolize oppression or the subordination of women. The implication that the hijab represents oppression takes away the dignity and pride that some women feel from covering their heads.
It is a deeply personal practice that many feel strongly about. Vogl emphasizes the unfairness of people who are not practicing Muslims to impose their beliefs onto those who do practice. In an interview with Bustle, Lisa states, “My goal when starting Verona Collection was to give my fellow sisters confidence to be proud of who they are, and if they choose to wear the hijab, to wear it with pride.” Even though she did not graduate from Daytona State College, she has been going back over the past several years as a guest lecturer, particularly at the DSC School of Photography. She also uses her knowledge and experience to facilitate student workshops on campus. There is no question that Vogl’s work in departmental fashion is a huge step in the right direction. “For us, for my community, this is a very big deal,” Vogl said in a statement to the press. “Macy’s took a very huge step of inclusivity and we’re very really thankful to be partnered with a company that values diversity.”