What is Modest Fashion and Why is it Becoming Mainstream?

Nowadays, the concept of individuality is much more important and social media has become a key platform for people to express their individuality. Generations are changing and the old hijab clothing style is outdated and boring for large number of Millennial and Y generation Muslims.

When we do a quick search on modest fashion through Google, we get 192 million results. According to Pinterest UK reports, the number of searches on this term has increased by 500 percent since the beginning of 2019. Also, State of the Global Islamic Economy report indicates that Muslim consumers spent an estimated $243 billion on clothing in 2015. Modest fashion purchases by Muslim women were estimated at $44 billion that year, which was approximately 18% of the total. Muslim consumer spending on clothing is expected to reach $368 billion by 2021, which would be a 51% increase from 2015.

From Instagram’s online boutiques to High Street collections and designers’ catwalks, conservative fashion is everywhere now.

What Does Modest Fashion Refer to?

Modest fashion might be interpreted in different ways. This term is used in the most general sense to describe the style of clothing that does not reveal body lines, but rather conceals them. In other words the term modest fashion or modest dressing refers to a fashion trend in women of wearing less skin-revealing clothes, especially in a way that satisfies their spiritual and stylistic requirements for reasons of faith, religion or personal preference.

This type of clothing can include headscarves, hijabs, conservatively designed trousers, tunics, jackets and dresses.

The reason why women prefer conservative clothing and follow this fashion may be due to religious or cultural reasons, or it can be preferred for a more modest and aesthetic appearance.

How Does it Become so Popular?

The rise of modest fashion has emerged, especially with the increase in need for more elegant clothing options of conservative women.

A growing number of Muslim designers and social media stars have decided to fill the gap in the fashion market by attracting people and building online stores. Instagram is full of modest fashion pioneers such as Maria Alia, Habiba da Silva and Dian Pelangi.

 In addition to Muslim fashion designers who have organized fashion shows in many European countries, USA and Middle Eastern countries, many mainstream fashion brands over the years have attempted to produce creations to meet the wants and needs of conservative fashion consumers.

In 2014, DKNY launched the Ramadan collection, which was prepared by choosing the ones that are suitable for conservative clothing among its own pieces, and in 2015, H&M introduced its first hijab model, Mariah Idrissi. In 2018, the American clothing retailer GAP featured a Muslim model with her hijab in its social media, print, and video campaign. Moreover, Nike released its first sports hijab, the pro women’s hijab.

H&M 2015 Collection

Modest fashion even has its own Fashion Week. In 2017, London hosted the first Modest Fashion Festival, featuring a variety of luxury and contemporary modest fashion brands, proving that everyone can be appreciated regardless of their religious or cultural identity.

In 2018, H&M presented its modest clothing collection, LTD Collection, to attract global consumers.

London Modest Fashion Week

Furthermore, other mainstream brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Tommy Hilfiger launched their Ramadan capsule collections and reached out to Muslim consumers in Middle Eastern countries.

H&M’s design manager Pernilla Wohlfahrt said the brand responds to customer interest, adding: “Today H&M is active in sixty nine different markets and we want to be distinguishing and inclusive in all the markets in which we operate. We want to offer everyone something”.

Recently, the online retailing company ASOS also introduced its modest fashion collection “Verona”, adding that the new brand is open for sale in Macy’s stores in the US.

Future of the Modest Fashion

The future of modest fashion seems promising since the number of famous brands and marquee events celebrating modest fashion is increasing. However, if brands aim to expand this trend, they need to understand that wearing the hijab and employing this style of dress is a commitment to a modest, religious lifestyle first and foremost.

Also, it is very crucial that the Muslimah point of view should remain at the forefront of this modest fashion expansion.

World-famous brands that decide to meet the needs and wants of an underrepresented part of the global market should understand the religious and cultural values of their target audiences. Choosing the cultural insensitivity path to increase the market share will be a very wrong decision for brands.

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