The clothing store across from the mosque features torn blue jeans, feather boas and brightly colored button-down shirts. But for customers who want the latest look, it also offers head scarves, veils and ankle-length tunics.

In Russia's Tatarstan region, increasing numbers of young people are switching from Western-style dress to Muslim attire. More than just a fashion, the trend reflects a surging interest in Islam among the youth of this largely Muslim region on the Volga River, about 450 miles east of Moscow.

"Young people are looking for something more, something deeper than just discotheques, alcohol and sex," said Elizha, the shop's 22-year-old clerk, who was dressed in a tightly wrapped blue head scarf and a black jacket and skirt.

She said many young Tatars -- who trace their lineage to the Mongol hordes that raced across Russia in the 12th and 13th centuries -- wear head scarves or some sort of traditional Muslim clothing.

The growing demand for the clothing has enabled store owner Ildar Gubaydullin to open two shops in Tatarstan's capital in the past two months. But on the streets of Kazan, whose skyline is a mix of new Russian architecture, Soviet-era high-rise apartment complexes, Russian Orthodox church cupolas and mosque minarets, the trend is not immediately apparent.

Orthodox Christians are the second-largest ethnic group in Tatarstan, and very few people on a recent afternoon in Kazan were dressed in anything resembling Muslim clothing.

But two teenagers in head scarves, long shirts and ankle-length dresses strolling near one of Kazan's numerous universities said many young Tatars have turned to Islam. Many still wear blue jeans -- and sometimes more unusual items, such as boas -- but head scarves are commonplace.

"It's everywhere now in universities, in schools," said Dzhamila, 18, who like Elizha did not want to give her last name.

Pavel Chikov, a 27-year-old rights activist, said the interest in Islam is a phenomenon that has developed within the past four years and is reflected not only in clothing but also in demand for food prepared according to Islamic dietary rules, or halal. Salami is a ubiquitous form of meat throughout Russia, but halal-style salami has appeared in Kazan markets only in the past year.

"It's a natural process. No one is forcing this on us," Chikov said of the religious development.

The majority of Tatars are moderate Muslims, and the region has had little of the religious tensions or extremist tendencies that have plagued other Muslim regions in Russia.

Raphael Khakimov, a political adviser to Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, noted that just a handful of Tatars traveled to Chechnya to fight with Islamic separatists during the first war there. That there were any at all was an anomaly for Tatarstan, he said, as were the arrests of several alleged members of the extremist Islamic group Hizbut-Tahrir.

Hard numbers indicating how fast Tatars are turning to Islam are hard to come by, but the religion has clearly become more visible in public life. The towering Qol Sharif mosque was rededicated in June. Russian Islamic University -- the country's first -- opened seven years ago. Three years ago, three Muslim women demanded they be allowed to wear head scarves for official identification photographs, and Russia's Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

Khakimov said that since the Soviet collapse 14 years ago, nearly three dozen Islamic religious schools, or madrassas, have been built in Tatarstan, and many are tied to Russian Islamic University and its mainstream pedagogy.

Tatars practice a particularly liberal form of Islam -- "Euro Islam," Khakimov calls it -- which sanctions the practice of personal, individual faith and in which men and women are considered equal. Islam here also draws on its own specific Tatar traditions that set it apart from stricter versions, such as Saudi Arabia's austere Wahhabism, Khakimov said.

"For us, Saudi Arabia is very, very far away," Khakimov said. "What can we take from them?"

Ilgiz Shigoballin, a 22-year-old assistant imam at the Nurallah mosque across the street from Gubaydullin's store, said Friday services are now overflowing, with most of the interest coming from college-age and younger men and women.

"Young people are sick of having empty lives," he said.

Women visit a mosque in Kazan, Tatarstan's capital. An assistant imam at one mosque said Friday services are now overflowing, mostly with young people.A woman tries on a wedding dress at a Muslim clothing shop. Many young people in Kazan are switching from Western-style clothes to Muslim attire.A woman shops for Muslim clothes. Interest in Islam has surged in the region in the last four years, says one resident.