UAE based BrownBook, issue number 13 did a short blurb about current trends and fashion in Iran. I stumbed across it just today and found it a very true, short little read. **warning it’s a huge PDF file**, Scroll down to page 46 and read from there…
I loved the little picture of the hejab shop at the beginning of the article, Most of the shops that sell hejabs in Iran are just like that. Tiny little “boxes” usually set inside of a “mall” and lined with hejabs of all kinds from top to bottom. The maghnehs are usually behind the counter while the trendier shals usually are hanging up for customers to oogle at, the square scarves usually are folded up and sit on counters.
Most of the shops I have been in have 1 or 2 female attendants that sit in there and assist the customer with their purchases. Normally there is a small mirror and a curtain that you can duck under to try on a scarf or the attendant can pull a curtain around the shop opening when a customer wants to try on a scarf…or there isnt anything and you have to do this crazy slide one scarf under another scarf sort of thing.
Occasionally the hejab stores are really big and occasionally there are men that do work in them. There was one place in the esfahan bazaar that had probably the best crepe maghnehs I have ever seen and there was a man who owned and worked in the shop. Obviously I let my husband handle the haggling and there is another shop which I absolutely adore and prefer to shop it, it’s in Najafabad, right in the bazaar area and it’s quite large (by Iranian standards) it’s sort of like two rooms and the one room is all shals and the other front, the room that opens onto the street has maghnehs and square scarves. This store really has an awesome selection and you can find shals from Turkey and the gulf countries as well as Iranian and Chinese made scarves. Their color selection for maghnehs is in pretty much unrivaled and they had some nice scarf accessories as well. You can also peruse at will (for the most part) and spend time in there really looking at everything.
My only real qualm with these little shops is…okay, well wait, I have two qualms.
It can be difficult to find the “exact” scarf you are looking for…so you invariably end up having to go to multiple shops just to find what you need. For example, I wanted to buy several of the new “Arabi” style maghneh’s (maghnehs that have this extra flab that you bring up over the chin and button at the side of the head, giving a style similar to what Lebanese shia’a women prefer) and ended up having to hunt for them deep in the Najafabad bazaar, inquiring at every little shop and eventually I found one shop…only one…in the small city of Najafabad that carried them!
My other qualm is usually the girls behind the counter usually have an opinion and usually their opinion does not jive with my opinion. Much like the girls in the mantoo shops. I usually go in and want the bigger style of maghneh or the larger squares or the longer and wider shal and they usually say how thats not trendy or very hip and then try to sell you some tiny sheer thing that is really meant to be worn as a neck accent with a business suit. Those sorts of scarves. Invariably I end up getting really annoyed and have less than an enjoyable scarf shopping experience.