DARE TO ASK: Spring line of turbans not likely
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
You know how Islam people wear turbans? Do they ever make a fashion statement
with them? Like do they have Louis Vuitton turbans,or turbans with checkered or
Roland, 15, Clay County
Just a friendly note, it's not "Islam people," it's Muslim people or Muslims.
Most Muslims don't wear turbans; turbans are traditional in some countries like
Afghanistan, Sudan and Oman. They are virtually unknown elsewhere except among
Shiia clergy. And the answer is yes, in countries where they are traditional,
they come in all shapes and colors. Some are made of expensive materials and
have brand visibility. If it is clearly a high-quality turban, it can be a class
statement I guess.
Karim, 27, Muslim, Los Angeles
To follow up on the above response, "Islam" is the religion, like
"Christianity" or "Buddhism."
Now that Roland's up to speed on terminology:
There's some pretty heady, stylish Muslim and Arab garb out there (check out
the hijabs, keffiyehs, kufis and veils at alhannah.com and artizara.com), but if
we're talking turban, we're most likely talking about the headgear of Sikhs,
most of whose 23 million adherents live in India but who can be found all over
In fact, Sikhism is the only faith that requires wearing it as part of the
actual religion, as opposed to it being a cultural norm, which is the case with
most clothing in the Middle East, said Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa, founder of
sikhnet.com. He also helps out with ratemyturban.com. (Haven't weighed in? We
like manmeet-singhsaluja's powder-blue affair - chic and not overstated - but
its current rating is only 8.11 out of 10. Go vote.)
While designers like Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs have put out trendy $125 to
$600 turbans of late, these are secular items for the
wound-piece-of-cloth-deprived lady in your life and aren't associated with
Turbans for Sikhs do come in many different styles, patterns and colors, but
they aren't as commercially "fashionized," Khalsa said.
"For a Sikh the turban is part of your identity, your body . . . It's about
people recognizing who we are, so people know we are Sikh," he said. "But we
don't do it as an ego thing, like 'Look how pimped out I am.'
"It's not about putting on a show, but if [a nice-looking turban] is within
reason, that's OK. You just don't want to make a mockery of it, like branding
it, which would degrade the purpose."
Incidentally, because of turbans' religious significance, the Transportation
Security Administration recently changed its airport search guidelines so
turbans don't have to be removed in public. Only if other methods like metal
detectors, pat-downs or X-ray machines can't rule out a turban as a potential
threat would a screener now be allowed to ask a passenger to remove the turban
in a private screening area.
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. email@example.com. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his