Modest Fashion Taking The Glamour World By Storm

  • 05 May - 11 May, 2018
  • Rabia Mushtaq
  • Fashion

With modest wear turning into a billion dollar industry, an array of Muslim and non-Muslim fashion designers/brands are jumping on the bandwagon... 

In September 2016, the then 30-year-old Indonesian designer, Anniesa Hasibuan, had little or no idea that she was not just showcasing her creations but instead making history at the New York Fashion week – a major fashion event, indeed. With her Spring/Summer ’17

collection – De Jayakarta – Hasibuan made every single model walk the runway wearing a hijab and left onlookers in awe of the bold attempt. The flowy, billowing costumes in pastel hues covered all the models from head to toe. The standing ovation that this talented couturier received was a testament to the fact that modest fashion is no longer a Muslim consumer’s possession but caters to a market larger than one can imagine, for it has now steeped into the mainstream world of fashion.

Designing modest wear

“I’ve been working in the modest fashion industry since 2011 and I’m not surprised by its growth. As reported by Forbes, the market is expected to be worth as much as ‘500 Billion USD in just 2 years’,” says Lisa Vogl, a Florida-based wedding/fashion photographer and founder of modest clothing label, Verona

Collection. She is the first woman to sell hijabs in a major American department store – Macy’s – in Orlando, Florida. What led her to come up with her own brand? Lisa tells us all. “When I converted to Islam, I realised how difficult it was to find affordable, stylish yet modest clothing options. So I knew if I was having this issue, many other women also

experienced the same,” she shares and adds, “There were two reasons [behind the launching my brand].Firstly, the need for modest and affordable clothing and secondly, to give women the confidence to be proud of their identity and the way they choose to dress.

“There are so many women who aren’t Muslim but want to get dressed modestly. In fact, many of our customers purchase Verona just because they like the style, and no other reason.”

Representation at fashion weeks

With various modest fashion weeks like the ones held in Istanbul, Dubai and most recently in London, the industry has certainly received quite an appreciation for its diverse set of designs which aren’t just targeted towards Muslim women. In fact, the modest fashion industry has grown into one of the most profitable markets for luxury designers and brands around the world. The likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Tommy Hilfiger, Valentino, DKNY, H&M, Nike and Mango to name a few, have already dipped their toes into this market. Runways are now regularly featuring designs, cuts and silhouettes which aren’t just comfortable but modest in all their glory.

Islamic Fashion Design Council (IFDC) – a platform built for the remarkable modest fashion and design industry – has made efforts to take this style globally. Alia Khan, the founder and chairwoman of the Council feels that modest fashion is not just a temporary phenomenon. “Modesty has always been a way of life for many people since the beginning of time in many cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. So there’s no particular boost in the demand for it. However, the exposure for it is where the breakthrough has taken place – all thanks to social media,” she says. Being the head of an organisation that represents modest fashion globally, we ask Alia whether the west is accepting towards modest fashion and designs. “Not only are they accepting but they are now partaking in [the process of flourishing] it. Western brands are now also catering to this market where some still need help, while others are doing it so elegantly and creatively that it’s actually a huge nod to this space, to the modest fashion world, as well as the consumer,” Alia responds.

According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with Dinar Standard, the modest fashion industry is worth a whopping $322 billion industry globally, and Alia reiterates the figures further stating, “Modest fashion consumer has a spending power that is larger than most countries around the world.” 

consumer’s take...

On whether Britain is welcoming towards modest clothing and fashion at large

“It is easy for me to maintain my modesty living in Britain as I have never come across anyone who disagrees with my choice of dressing; in fact, brands like Jo Malone, La Mer and The Body Shop are quite welcoming and inviting to work with us. In terms of modest clothing, from Primark to designers like Dolce & Gabbana love catering to Muslims and always have plenty of options for us.”
Jazba Ali – British-Muslim blogger and influencer

On whether hijab restricts one from looking stylish

“Not really! I actually enjoy picking clothes from regular high-street brands and incorporating them into my own style. I also believe we do not have too many choices in modest wear, so there's always more variety when going to regular stores.”
Kanwal Ahmed, founder of Facebook group Soul Sisters Pakistan and social media influencer

On whether it is easier to find clothes that are contemporary yet modest

“It's definitely a challenge because you want clothes that are on-trend with their cuts, yet must not be revealing or figure-hugging. You need to make sure the neck isn't low-cut, the fabric doesn't stick to your curves and it isn't see-through. The biggest issue with Pakistani clothes right now is that there aren't sleeves, or the trousers have a sheer panel revealing half the legs. Or there will be a perfect dress and you realise it has huge slits on the side which means you now need to wear leggings underneath. So it's definitely not easy shopping for stylish yet modest clothes.”
Arfa Shahid, Dubai-based influencer and journalist

In A Nutshell

Modest silhouettes gaining some much-needed impetus across the world is indeed a reality that has taken the world of fashion by storm, all thanks to the advent of social media and luxury brands endorsing it. However, the world has not yet seen the potential this industry possesses. Considering the exceptional possibilities of modest fashion, it will, in no time, become a regular for such designs to grace global runways; in fact, rule them from the frontline.