In recent years, covered-up clothing has made its ways into British culture with more and more women in the public domain wearing the hijab than ever before. Modest fashion is the newest trend on the block – and this movement is fast gaining momentum with top luxury fashion retailers taking big steps into this new face of contemporary fashion.
Ten years ago, a hijabi typically faced the constant battle to find clothing that looked fashionable and elegant, and didn’t compromise any religious inclinations. Women yearned for easy-wear clothing that didn’t require layering and still offered as much comfort as any other trendy wears. Since then, however, modest fashion has made a groundbreaking appearance and is now widely celebrated. Now women can shop for modest wear without the feeling of feeling alone with their tastes and preferences.
The emergence of the first-ever London Modest Fashion Week in the UK which was hosted in the iconic Saatchi Gallery was proof that there is now greater awareness of the unique demands of the religious woman. Featuring over 40 fashion brands from around the world, London Fashion Week was not a Muslim exclusive show, but one that recognized the values of anyone looking to adorn a more demure appearance.
As an increasing number of fashion brands buy into this trend, it is the entry of the big retailers that is set to make the most impact. Debenhams – one of UK’s biggest department stores – has made plans to launch its hijab and cover-up clothing range. The selection will include tops, headscarves, kimono wraps, dresses, caps, jumpsuits, and hijab pins. Aab, a London-based clothing behind this initiative, says the goal here is to sell “contemporary modest wear” for women.
Modest Fashion on the High Street is Victory for Everyone
Modest fashion started gaining attention with the efforts of millennial Muslim bloggers who, through their hijab and fashion-related posts, built huge online communities in order to create chic and fashionable styles. Fashion influencers like Leena Asad, Hana Tajima, and Dina Tokio are a few of the popular names that have been able to catch the attention of major fashion brands with their efforts. While this is victory for Muslim women, it is not just about the religious community.
Over the years, many celebrities have appreciated the trend, sporting different modest wears even on the red carpet. For instance, at the 2017 Grammy Awards, singer Adele got her audience thrilled as she appeared in an olive green, floor-skimming Givenchy gown, oozing class and glamour. The dress which featured long delicate beaded sleeves made was not only elegant, but a sight to behold.
The Independent newspaper highlighted how the burkini ban was overturned in France in 2016. Beach lovers can now grace this modesty full body swimwear in the country’s beaches as a top French court declared the ban “illegal and a violation of fundamental liberties”. While this is still a grey area, the reality has proven that modest fashion is becoming more acceptable. TV chef Nigella Lawson brought the burkini to limelight when she wore the decorous head-to-toe protective piece on holiday in Australia in 2011. However, as Marks and Spencer launched its burkini line as part of its spring 2016 collection, the outfit gained even more attention.
The contemporary fashion industry is undergoing dramatic change. Fashion was and has always been driven by Milan, Paris, New York, and London. But that is set to change. Thanks to social media and the efforts of influencers, the consumer is now at the steering wheel. A report by the Pew research center reveals that the global Muslim population is close to the 2-billion mark, and is projected to make up 30 percent of the global population by 2030. Even more studies have shown that 50 percent of the global Muslim population is under 25 – and they have buying power. Fashion brands and the big retailers now realize the potential of this huge, largely unexplored market and the spending power of today’s Muslim consumers. In fact, the Thomson Reuters report in the State of the Global Islamic Economy, the Muslim population is said to have spent an estimated $243 billion on clothing in 2015, representing 11 percent of the global market spend. With the growing spending power of Muslim consumers, there is an exciting new opportunity for luxury fashion labels and mass retailers. By the year 2020, it is estimated that modest fashion would be worth up to $368 billion.
What are the Next Steps for the Retailer?
The modest fashion market has been obvious for years. It is now represents a fascinating trend for the global retail industry. The sheer size of the market, with interest from both the Muslim and non-Muslim community, is a celebration of the presence of diversity in modern fashion. Covered-up chic is slowly but steadily making its way into mainstream fashion – and it is important that the big retailers follow the lead of fashion labels in the industry.
Nike, in early 2017, was the first major fashion brand to launch a “pro hijab” line. Marks and Spencer, Aab, and Debenhams are some of the biggest retailers to have adapted their business model to fit this new trend. An exciting new trend for now and the future of fashion.