Zabeen Khamisa is a doctoral candidate in the joint Wilfrid Laurier University-University of Waterloo PhD program, Religious Diversity in North America. Zabeen’s research interests include religion and socio-political movements, Sikhi in North America, digital religion, the sociology and anthropology of religion, and cultural economics.

Feminism, Gender Production, and Sikh Fashion Enterprises in Canada

Young Sikh women in Canada are creating values-based fashion enterprises that seek to encourage creative expression, self-determined representation, gender equality, and ethical purchasing. When exploring the innovative ways in which young Sikhs of the diaspora are expressing their religious values in the socio-economic domain, it is hard to miss the many young Sikh fashionistas, artists and activists, who are committed to making Sikh dress stylish and accessible. A diasporic phenomenon referred to as “Sikh-chic” (Reddy 2016), the turban and the five outward signs required of the Khalsa Sikh, are central motifs for many Sikh fashion lines. In Canada, young Sikh women are challenging mainstream representations of a masculine Sikh identity by creating new designs dedicated to celebrating Khalsa Sikh females, producing discourses of authenticity, legitimacy, and feminism. In this presentation I draw on data collected while conducting participant observation including digital ethnographic research, and explore the complexities of this new phenomenon as demonstrated by two Canadian-based Sikh fashion brands TrendySingh, Kundan Paaras, and designs by one Sikh artist, Jasmin Kaur.