With the conclusion of Ramadan, Muslims around the world are celebrating the end of the month-long fast with Eid. And with Eid, Muslim women will be dolled up in colorful hijabs and flowy long silhouettes which are inspiring designers to recreate these elegant looks.
Although modest fashion remains widely associated with women from more conservative countries and religions, it is being quickly adopted by women from other backgrounds too. It is no longer just a market-specific trend, but a global one. Some of its increasing demand can be attributed to the rise of the #MeToo movement, especially in the UK and the US, where dressing modestly is seen as empowering.
New Takes on Modest Fashion
Modest fashion has come a long way since its days when it was worn only to abide by religious or cultural traditions. In the past few years, luxury brands and powerhouses have been leading the trend, designing clothing with longer hemlines and looser fits. Alongside them, large online retailers, such as FarFetch and Yoox Net-a-Porter, are also shifting to cater to the tastes and preferences of women in the Middle East. FarFetch recently struck a deal with The Modist - well-known for their tagline ‘Modest Fashion, Modern Thinking’ - in August last year, while Net-a-Porter signed a joint venture with tycoon Mohamed Alabbar who owns the Dubai Mall back in 2016. These forward-thinking retailers are recognizing an untapped market in which the demand for modest apparel will always be there.
For women who have to dress modestly, it means a lot more stylish choices in their wardrobes; and for those who choose modest fashion as a personal preference, it means increased comfort while covering more of the body. Thirty-six percent of The Modist’s consumers are actually women from western countries, with the highest demand coming from Texas.
However, efforts from other brands to tap into this market and be more inclusive have not been as well-lauded. Luxury powerhouse Gucci was criticized for sending white models in turbans and headscarves on its autumn/winter 2018 runway in Milan; they were called out for neglecting its cultural importance. Meanwhile, the first modest fashion capsule collection from H&M, titled “LTD collection”, received mixed reviews, with some applauding its efforts for expanding the variety of modest clothing already available in stores but others putting it down as a market strategy for Eid season. Nonetheless, this isn’t H&M’s first foray into modest fashion - they previously introduced Mariah Idrissi, the first Muslim hijab-wearing model in their ‘Close the Loop’ campaign, who is now widely recognized as the face of the modest fashion movement.
H&M’s ‘LTD collection’
Dolce and Gabbana - new at The Modist
Joining the Movement?
The only way to truly determine if the modest fashion movement is taking over the world is by looking at cold hard data because it speaks the truth. Here are some numbers we pulled up for you.
While dress length is only one lens through which to view the movement, it’s still an important one. Midi (mid-length) dresses are surpassing mini dresses in number of styles since March this year. Skirts reflect a similar trend too, with the number of styles of midi skirts surpassing mini ones in September last year. There are nearly 30% more midi styles than mini skirt silhouettes as of today, but the number of maxi silhouettes for both dresses and skirts remain at about 40% of mini styles.
Although wide-legged pants and flowy kaftans may be wardrobe staples in Europe and America now, shorter styles may overtake the more modest silhouettes as we approach the full-blown heat of summer. Nonetheless, as Guenez, founder of The Modist, has pointed out, a shift from dressing for the male gaze to the female gaze means stylish ensembles are never about ‘baring all’. With consumers from China, Europe and western markets recognizing that they are able to liberate themselves and love fashion while choosing to cover up, modest fashion seems to be more than just a trend - it’s a shift in lifestyle that won’t go away anytime soon.