Although the modest fashion movement may appear to some as a newly occurring phenomenon within the fashion industry, the truth is that the modest silhouette has been growing in popularity and size for a great deal of time now. From the visible presence of modest fashion social media influencers to the expanding international modest fashion market, which is recognised by both independent brands as well as major fashion houses, it’s evident that the movement for modest wear is garnering up undeniably positive and progressive momentum.
It is no secret that the rise of hijabi fashion bloggers and millennial influencers has coincided with the growth of the modest sartorial market. This new generation of young and confident individuals have not only carved out a space where they remain unapologetically themselves while embracing their faith and love of fashion simultaneously, but have also proven to be a community of business and product-conscious entrepreneurs who are set on catering to the demands of the cumulative modest market. The work of influencers such as Dina Torkia and Dian Pelangi is testament to this notion and can be seen in their effortless blending of conservativism and style, and through the launch of their brands which seek to reach out to the modest consumer market.
While the growth of this market originated from the early work of bloggers and social media influencers, it has since then and more recently become affiliated with a more mainstream fashion market. Last year Dolce & Gabbana launched a collection of luxury hijabs and abayas targeted at Muslim consumers. While the collection elicited some praise, it was concurrently met with criticism for its unauthentic enlistment of Caucasian models and for its reinforcement of the idea that Eastern culture is only celebrated in relation to the West’s glamorisation and capitalisation of it. Nevertheless, D&G is one in a series of Western brands that have attempted to have a hand in the widening Muslim fashion consumer market. Previously, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Oscar de la Renta also created collections that were targeted at the Muslim market.
High street brands alike have awoken to the rise of modest apparel. In 2015, Japanese retail company Uniqlo collaborated with Muslim fashion designer Hana Tajima to create LifeWear, a modest collection which included hijabs, long flowing skirts, and tapered ankle-length pants. In the same year, retail fashion giants Zara and Mango launched special Ramadan collections to celebrate the coming of the holy month for Muslims around the world. Though they did not launch a collection of sorts, H&M was applauded far and wide for featuring hijabi Muslim model Mariah Idrissi in its advertising campaign which advocated “There are no rules in fashion.”
In general, modest fashion is a continuously flourishing market. Though high street brands were slow in recognising the demand for modest wear, it is evident that we are now in a climate where such attire is easily accessible and readily available. Wide leg palazzo trousers, longline tunics, and high neck tops are not only a prominent sight on store floors, but are also regular features in runway collections. Recently, Indonesian Muslim designer Anniesa Hasibuan rose to critical acclaim after showcasing her collection at New York Fashion Week SS 17, where she became the first designer to present models wearing hijabs, and in many ways reclaimed the conversation surrounding the modest consumer market which Western designers were seemingly overtaking.
The modest market is diverse and this could be an attribution to its success. While the Muslim consumer market alone spent $230 billion on fashion in 2015, the modest fashion movement consists of an array of groups which includes conservative Muslims, Christians, and Jews, who all seek to uphold their value system while expressing their individualism through the potent creative medium that is fashion.
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Words: Sameeha Shaikh
Hashtags: #modest #fashion #faith #style