What does modest fashion really mean?
Though the true definition of modest fashion may differ from woman to woman, it is essentially a clothing choice of women that reveals minimum skin and does not accentuate the shape of their body. Everyone has their own idea of what modest fashion means to them. It may mean different styles to different women depending on their body, perspective, or religion. Women that are religion-concerned choose modest fashion over other styles to meet the rulings of their respective religions while still being able to express their style and likes based on their physical appearances. Muslim women may include a hijab to cover their heads, as guided by Islam. Other women view modest fashion as a pure aesthetic that they desire to follow. Sometimes, women may choose oversized and loose clothes for reasons as simple as comfort. In other words, modest fashion is not exclusively practiced by Muslim women only, but any woman of any religion or belief who chooses to keep up with trends while avoiding attention towards their body.
How are modest fashion choices viewed today?
Already existing as a billion-dollar industry, the modest fashion industry is only growing in terms of worth and recognition globally. Outfits that do not include exposure of skin or drag attention towards the size, shape, or type of the body of the woman had been viewed and tagged conservative, oppressive and old-fashioned for a long time. Moreover, the stereotypical thinking within different Islamic cultures itself expected women to wear abayas which in a way gave them no choice to do otherwise under social pressure. Specifically, in countries like India, Muslim women were restricted from choosing for themselves and dressing in the way they liked.
Shanaz Rukshana, an entrepreneur from Chennai, India, launched her modest fashion label after pursuing international Islamic studies. It led her to realize that the beliefs of the people that surrounded her were nothing but misconceptions and stereotypes regarding how Muslim women should dress. The Hijab Company inspired more women to dress, present, and express themselves according to their taste in fashion without compromising the rulings of their religion.
India’s first modest fashion store, The Hijablee was launched by Nighat Ahmad from Kanpur in 2014. It was later renamed to House of THL based on the initials of her three daughters, Tuba, Hiba, and Liba. However, the modest fashion brand resulted in disapproval from the stereotypical society who did not believe hijab and fashion could go together.
Both Nighat Ahmad and Shanaz Rukshana were successful in fighting against the odds and misconceptions in society and breaking the stereotypes regarding fashion choices for Muslim women. They were able to bring a change in how people viewed fashion, leading towards progress.
Where does modest fashion stand in recent trends?
Despite being tagged old-fashioned or conservative, modest fashion has made a return to the fashion industry setting new trends. Tight-fitted clothes and clothes that do not restrict the exposure of skin had been the main focus in mainstream fashion while loose or oversized outfits were considered bland or boring. But today, modest clothing is slowly making its way into mainstream fashion. There has been a noticeable increase in modest fashion bloggers and designers, most of them being millennial Muslim women who desire to portray their taste in fashion without compromising modesty. The array includes maxi dresses, full-sleeved tops, loose bottoms, overcoats, etc. The outfits may be styled with creative layering styles and a hijab in the case of Muslim women.
The modest fashion industry has boomed in recent years. A religious choice has slowly become a global trend. Several fashion giants have taken part in the trend by including modest clothing choices. In 2016, Dolce & Gabbana launched a line of hijabs and abayas for Muslim women. They have felt neglected by many clothing brands for years and they are finally working to include modest clothing for the Muslim community. Approximately $270 billion has been spent on modest fashion in 2017. It has been forecasted to reach $361 a year by 2023.
In the Lakme Fashion Week of 2019, models walked the stage in modest clothing designed and styled by Muneeba Nadeem, marking the first big event to include modest fashion. The collection included formal designs that focused on attracting the increasing number of working women in society. The designer styled each outfit with suitable hijabs to enhance modesty and complete the look. She was applauded for putting out the most modest collection seen on the ramp without sacrificing modesty. Other famous and successful brands were also keen to show interest with the rising recognition of modest fashion. Noticeably, almost every brand globally has been working to keep its products inclusive of all cultures and traditions to have something to offer to anyone.
What role did social media play in the rising popularity of modest fashion?
Modest clothing had been at odds with being considered trendy and cool. With the growth of social media, the growth of modest fashion went hand in hand. Millennials have stood by the idea that modest fashion can be cool and trendy. As a result of the rise of Instagram and fashion blogs, a large number of religious women, mostly young women in the US expressed their frustration regarding the lack of fashion choices available to them and the ignorance of mainstream fashion. The millennials are more likely to be open to the idea of keeping up with trends when compared to their parents. Due to the lack of choices available to them, Muslim women began creating their own and putting it out on the internet on different platforms to be able to influence others. It led to the mainstream fashion industry realizing that they had been overlooking an opportunity to be a part of the billion-dollar industry all along. H&M launched its first modest fashion collection in 2018 along with other fashion brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, and Mango launching their modest collections during the month of Ramadan.
Personalities like Maryam Asadullah and Sobia Masood were among many women to become fashion icons for other modest wearers. They were successful in creating a trend by posting various tips and tutorials on styling modest clothing which gained them a large following. Another Muslim woman to build a social media fan base, Summer Albarcha firmly believed that modest fashion should not be perceived as old fashioned or outdated.
With that said, Modest Fashion is not another seasonal trend that will fade with time. it’s a fashion that is here to stay for a while and make a revolution in the Fashion Industry