From Jakarta to Dubai, London & soon even Miami, runways around the world are showcasing higher neckline, longer hemline, longer sleeves and looser cuts. This is Modest fashion!
The term modest fashion refers to a fashion trend of wearing less skin revealing clothes with stylish design. Although the exact interpretation of modesty varies across culture, religion and country. Beyond the various thoughts all agree on the idea that modest fashion is mainly focused on introducing the trend fashionably with the requirement of their faith, personal comfort and choice.
Origin of Modest fashion
Modest fashion can be seen throughout many different time, periods & culture. Although Abrahamic religions have more influence in modest lifestyle. Many Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women practice the veiling of their head, with Christian women wearing a head covering, Jewish women wearing a tichel, and Muslim women wearing a hijab.
However historically it can be connected with medieval clothing. Besides Robes, shawls and intricate Kaftans of 14th century Ottomans and Farthingale skirts of Elizabethan England could be considered modest.
Market of Modest Fashion
Having rich history behind modest fashion is now endorsed by global fashion brands and retailers, and was set to become a $450 billion industry. However, in 2018 modest fashion was considered as a $250 billion industry. According to Pinterest UK, modest fashion searcher increased 500% in 2019. More designers are restoring to longer and more flowy designs. The industry was expected to increase by 51% by 2019. According to the Global Islamic Economy Report, the Muslim fashion spent alone in the UK is estimated to reach £226 billion by 2020. Names like Dolce & Gabbana, H&M, Uniqlo have also entered modest fashion segments. Other brands, including DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier, Zara and Mango, have produced special collections for the Ramadan holiday.
Fashion Week/ Fashion Show based on Modest theme
A lot of fashion shows have been organized based on modest fashion theme. Muslim cities like Jakarta, Dubai & Istanbul have already organized fashion week successfully. Middle east country like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Palestine, UAE, Turkey and African countries like Morocco, Algeria etc. are coming forward in support of modest fashion. Western fashion cities are also approaching with this theme. In February 2017, London hosted its first-ever Modest Fashion Week, featuring more than 40 labels showcasing styles that ranged from maxi dresses to hijabs. Israeli fashion company Modli which has mainly US based market also featured modest fashion items.
In 2018, the Islamic Fashion & Design Council (IFDC) has partnered with Milan Fashion Week (MFW) to host a modest fashion party. Miami fashion week based on modest fashion was also about to be hosted in 2020 but due to Covid19 pandemic they expect to reschedule it in 2021.
Contradiction & Misconception about Modest Fashion
For many people, Modesty is a modern taboo. It is the object of ridicule and scorn. Some believes Modesty inhibits freedom and it is the product of centuries of “Patriarchy”. Although the most important part of this development is that modest clothes are worn outside of a religious context. It depends fully on the consumer how they are accepting modest fashion. Most of the modest fashion are designed for both religious and non-religious consumers.
Once you put aside the misconception that modest fashion is only tied to religious and religo-ethnic desires, many of the fashion experts recommend quick to stress that covering up doesn’t have to equate to looking boring or avoiding trends. Currently many scholars are working and studying with this growing phenomenon such as British professor Reina Lewis from London College of Fashion.
The need for Security
Another theme found in the new modest fashion trend is the need for security. One of the primary functions of clothing is physical protection from the elements. However, clothing’s most significant purpose is more protection of a person’s dignity and privacy which inspires one’s spirituality. In an increasingly polarized and uncertain world, many women claim a need for extra “armor” to protect them from the unforeseeable.
The situation of the #MeToo movement has also materialized insecurity between the sexes. This rising tension is redefining relationships and social conventions.
Modesty Wear for Men
Hijab lines created by luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and frequent shows in places such as London, Dubai and Paris, modest fashion is being bigger than ever for the ladies.
However, men have not been forgotten when it comes to trend-led modest fashion. In 2018 London Modest fashion week clothing targeted towards modesty wear for men. Hooded jubbah, denim khandoura, shemaghs, modest prayer hats and swanky sandals displayed on the center stage to an expectant crowd of media, bloggers and fashionistas. Alia Khan, the chairwoman of the Dubai-based Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) said: “The opportunity is in studying this area and catering sincerely to it. I predict this is the next area of growth we will all be hearing a lot more about.”
The next stage for modest fashion lies in diversity: The diversity of men & women who are choosing to dress this way, as well as an expansion of designers, influencers and platforms that this department will seep into. It is expected that major retailers will collaborate with modest designers and more modest fashion events that live offline and empower women in person. Experts believe it will continue to grow naturally, as it caters to a particular person, not a culture or a religion.
Source: (Wikipedia, Forbes, Who What Wear, Arabian Business, TRT world, Khaleej Times, Miami Fashion week, IFDC)
Shariful Islam Akash
Department of Textile Fashion and Design (TFD)
Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX)