How Modesty became Mainstream

There are over a billion hashtags for modest fashion on Instagram, and what may come as a surprise to some is that not everyone is wearing a hijab. With the rise of modest fashion retailers such as UAE based, big-name international brands creating dedicated modist collections and social media influencers the world over embracing the trend, one could say the modest fashion industry has exploded in the last year. It’s no wonder the modest industry is set to reach $400 billion in the next couple of years. Demand is ripe.

So what does modest fashion actually mean?  The history of modest fashion goes back to the early 18th century which was predominately ruled by the Islamic Empire and custom to many cultures and backgrounds who adorned modest robes, shawls, and kaftans. Yet one thing is for sure, you don’t have to be religious to support the modern modest movement. For those among the style conscious who prefer to not show too much skin, there is now a wider source of inspiration with flowing silhouettes and creative layering.

Ghizlan Guenez, CEO and Founder of luxury fashion e-commerce platform the Modist, explains that this is not a new fashion trend, but one that has recently come into the limelight and undoubtedly here to stay.

“Modesty is a wide spectrum, and different women choose to sit on different parts of that spectrum. Surely, there are broad parameters like the length of sleeves, hemlines, and neckline, but it goes beyond that. This is why an intimate understanding of this woman is important when creating the offering. Women dress modestly for various reasons; faith is one of them, but they also dress this way at times because they find it age-appropriate, relevant to the workplace, a chicer way of dressing, and the list goes on. So, whilst the trend is currently there, even when it changes, women who dress this way will still continue to prefer a modest approach to fashion”.

H&M, Zara, Mango, and Uniqlo are just some of the global fashion high street retail giants to release a modest line and luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana to DKNY and Oscar de la Renta have followed suit.

Modest Fashion Week first launched in 2016 in Istanbul, when modest fashion was still solely associated with ‘muslim’ dressing. In 2017, Modest Fashion Week was held in London and Dubai, featuring more than 40 labels showcasing styles that ranged from maxi dresses to hijabs. Perhaps we can start to see the fashion buyers and editors line the runway at Modest Fashion Week in addition to the staple London, Paris, New York and Milan.

Social media has also had a tremendous effect on the international growth of modest fashion, with social media influencers at the forefront of this rising community, providing stylised content that they themselves were once seeking in a widely western fashion industry.

The top ten UAE based Modest influencers to follow:

  1. Anum Bashir / @desertmannequin

  2. Saufeeya Goodson / @feeeeya

  3. Nisa Tiwana / @nisa_tiwana

  4. Nirvana Abdul / @nirvana.abdul

  5. Zahra Khalil @zahralyla

  6. Dalia AlDoub @dalalid

  7. Leena Al Ghouti @leenalghouti

  8. Soha @sohamt

  9. Ascia @ascia

  10. Fatma Husam @fa6ma7sam

Matthew Watt