14 August 2010
The company Puma has asked the German fashion label Styleislam to withdraw one of their popular shirt slogans. The “Juma” shirts, remembering Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, resemble the Puma logo in font, with the puma icon replaced by a praying person. To prevent Puma from bringing the issue to court, Styleislam has agreed to no longer sell any Juma shirts, which the company has accepted. However, Puma still demands Styleislam pay the lawyer’s fees. Styleislam made clear that Juma is only one among many slogans and images printed on their shirts, and that they never intended to breach the copyright.
Melih Kesmen, the creator of fashion label Styleislam, recounts the success story of this small company. The German designer of Turkish background made his first t-shirt, bearing the slogan “I love my Prophet”, during the cartoon controversy in Europe. He received a lot of positive feedback from Muslims and non-Muslims, which caused him to open a fashion label for street wear with Islamic slogans. Reconciling the two cultures he grew up with, Turkish-Islamic and German street art, his label has become very popular and the most successful in this niche market.
It all started with a T-shirt bearing the slogan “I Love My Prophet.” That’s when a designer in Germany discovered a booming market for modern, urban clothes and accessories with a Muslim message. People from many different cultures are likely to agree: slippers are rather uncool. But in Styleislam’s fashion design office, everyone walks around in them.
Here, in the small German town of Witten in the middle of the industrial Ruhr region, chic clothes and accessories are designed for fashion-conscious but devout young Muslims. Styleislam was the brainchild of Melih Kesmen, a stocky man with a ponytail and goatee. “Here are a few examples of our designs, like one about the hijab – the headscarf,” he said, pulling a black handbag out of a cupboard in the company’s small stockroom. “Hijab, My Right, My Choice, My Life,” is written on the bag in big white letters. “If a woman wants to wear a headscarf, then she should be allowed to,” said Kesmen.
The motto on the bag could provoke hours of discussion, and so could plenty of other motifs on the entrepreneur’s shelves, such as baby bibs printed with the word “Minimuslim” or a call to prayer: “Salah, Always Get Connected.”