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What the future holds for modest fashion

The bright future of modest fashion

The power of modest fashion seems to be unstoppable. Far from still being the niche market it once was, modest fashion is definitely becoming mainstream now that, according to the 2022 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report by research and advisory firm DinarStandard, the total spending on this style increased by 5.7% in 2021, up from 279 to 295 billion dollars. And for the year that just ended, the industry should reach worldwide an estimated worth of 313 billion dollars.

The brand Miha (Turkey) was among the protagonists of the latest Modest Fashion Week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The brand Miha (Turkey) was among the protagonists of the latest Modest Fashion Week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The main markets for modest fashion include Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, though modest fashion revenues outside the Middle East and Africa are predicted to hit 170 million dollars in 2022.

 

Younger consumers are more aware than ever of inclusive aesthetics: they now expect brands to create stylish garments in full compliance with Koranic values

Such progress was made possible by the younger consumers, more aware of inclusive fashion and aesthetics, who now expect brands to align with their values by creating stylish garments in full compliance with the Koranic norms.

A look by Talabaya (Czech Republic), a brand that joined the latest Modest Fashion Week in Riyadh

A look by Talabaya (Czech Republic), a lucury fashion brand that joined the latest Modest Fashion Week in Riyadh

A global style, modest fashion is about clothes covering the body more. Loose and long cuts are the key style element of modest fashion; however, hijab is optional. Ankle lengths, sleeves that hide the wrists, no transparencies and no skinny garments that highlight the curves are the standards of modest fashion, but traditional clothes are becoming increasingly eclectic, colourful and with unconventional prints and styles.

 

A proper style with its own fashion week: what went down at the eighth Modest Fashion Week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

We are discussing a proper style that has even its own fashion week. Launched in 2015 by Ozlem Sahin Ertas, the eighth edition of Modest Fashion Week was staged for the first time in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on December 15th and 16th.

“We chose Riyadh for this edition because we know Saudi Arabia is open to collaboration and can offer growth opportunities for our upcoming designers,” Ertas explained.

The brand Foulard showed on the first day of the last Modest Fashion Week

The brand Foulard showed on the first day of the last Modest Fashion Week

Representatives from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and several royal family members attended the event. Among them, also Prince Sultan Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who met all the designers in person to show his support.

Previously, the travelling concept of Modest Fashion Weeks by Think Fashion has spread out the modest fashion spirit and style around the world, starting from Istanbul in 2016 and London in 2017 to Dubai in 2017, 2019 and 2021, Jakarta in 2018 and Amsterdam in 2019.

 

Modest Fashion Weeks target designers, brands, buyers, media, influencers and creatives keen on a market that will grow to be worth over $370 billion

The Modest Fashion Weeks event series is dedicated to the modest fashion industry with 2 billion media coverages across five continents, gathering more than 40 countries, 300 designers and brands and 100 buyers and industry experts.

A creation by Nofa Deen, among the protagonists of the last Modest Fashion Week

A creation by Nofa Deen, among the protagonists of the last Modest Fashion Week

“The vision of Modest Fashion Weeks is to create sustainable and global business relations for the modest fashion industry stakeholders that are designers, brands, buyers, media, influencers and creative talents for a market that will grow to be worth over 370 billion dollars,” Ozlem Sahin Ertas stated. 

Muslim spend on fashion is expected to increase from the current 295 billion dollars to 375 billion by 2025, according to DinarStandard.

 

At the eighth Modest Fashion Week, brands from around the world mixed strong cultural identities with a modern take on modest clothing. Here are the brands to keep an eye on 

The latest two-day edition hosted in its calendar brands from all around the world that mixed strong cultural identities with a modern take on modest clothing. 

On the first day, the schedule included fashion shows and presentations of the collections by the local labels The String Story and Foulard, but also Rossanabrand (Italy), Lacavalierelegante (Morocco), Nofa Deen (USA), Younass Design (Nigeria), Sawsan Design (Palestine), Limonette (Turkey) Hijab Boutique (Egypt), Innersejuk (Malaysia), Lara Ali (UAE), Miha (Turkey), Talabaya (Czech Republic), Marina (Turkey) and Kaine Designs (UAE).

The brand Innersejuk (Malaysia) showed on the first day of the last Modest Fashion Week

The brand Innersejuk (Malaysia) showed on the first day of the last Modest Fashion Week

And the protagonists of the second day were Soumaya Beaudin (France), Daska (United Kingdom), Eiman Design (Sudan), MTM Design (Kosovo), Rabail Riaz (UAE), Imannoor (Turkey), Hijaberlin (UAE), Lara Active (UAE), Kisva (Kazakhstan), Sultana R (France), HK Design (Egypt) and Blooming and Kaafmeem from Saudi Arabia.

 

Modest capsules and “Ramadan collections” as opportunities for established brands and retailers looking for new ways to expand Middle Eastern markets 

As the demand for modest fashion increases year after year, more and more opportunities are emerging for brands and retailers.

The business is growing for specialised labels but also for all those European and American fashion houses looking for new ways to develop the Middle Eastern markets.

Big names in the fashion & luxury industry, such as Dolce&Gabbana, Prada, Oscar De La Renta, DKNY and even Valentino – owned by Mayhoola for Investments, the fund of the Royal family of Qatar – have debuted in recent years with modest capsules and “Ramadan collections” dedicated to young Muslim women.

Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Beckham, Yohji Yamamoto and even fast fashion giants like Zara, Mango, H&M and Uniqlo are going with the flow.

 

Modanisa, the most popular modest fashion e-commerce retailer, and other brands in the spotlight

The most popular modest fashion stakeholders include the Istanbul-based retailer Modanisa, founded in 2011, which sells both private label and third-party brands in dozens of countries around the world and generates annual revenues of over 150 million dollars. 

“Modanisa has done a really good job at making themselves quite widespread and managing their growth, which is where the challenge is,” once stated Alia Khan, founder and chairwoman of the Dubai-based Islamic Fashion and Design Council. 

Modanisa's Ramadan 2021 campaign

Modanisa's Ramadan 2021 campaign. Modanisa.com was launched in 2011 as Turkey's first fashion platform offering online clothing shopping to meet modest women’s desire to wear the clothes that fit the life and times they live in

Other successful brands include those of the Malaysian FV Group, founded by Vivy Yusof in Kuala Lumpur in 2010, which owns the two modest fashion labels Duck and Lilit, Hijup, Louella, Veiled Collection, Niswa Fashion and the modest swimwear brand Lyra, founded by Ikram in 2016. 

But the last Modest Fashion Week hosted interesting and promising labels like the already mentioned Jeddah-based Kaafmeem, a pioneer of colourful abayas in 2016 when modest fashion was in an evolving phase. “We know customers want new styles of fashion, but we still need to keep some things familiar as that helps them to resonate with the product and keep buying, which is why being aware of the cultural context is incredibly important,” co-founder Karima Saleh explained.

Nigerian brand Younass Collection showing its creations at the latest Modest Fashion Week

Nigerian brand Younass Collection showing its creations at the latest Modest Fashion Week

That is what the Nigerian brand Younass Collection is doing. Launched by designer Soraya Adji, the label fuses loose and modern silhouettes with African prints and bold, colourful fabrics. “Living between Nigeria and France, I found it difficult to find clothing that combined both cultures while also being modest,” she explained. “After noticing this, I began designing for what I saw as a gap in the market and gained customers from the UK, the US, the Middle East and various African regions.” 

Tradition is also the core of Sawsan Design by designer Sawsan Mahmoud, who works directly with Palestinian artisans to produce the traditional hand embroidery known as tatreez, which she combines with modern designs. “When you, as the designer, are part of the culture, you have a better understanding of those customers’ values, their way of thinking, their traditions, and therefore you are able to serve them better,” she stated. 

Daska was founded in London in 2021 by Maryam Khan

Daska was founded in London in 2021 by Maryam Khan, after seeing a gap in the fashion sphere for good quality, stylish modest clothing

Another interesting story is the one about the newborn British brand Daska. Founded only last year by Maryam Khan, it aims to cater to customers who may observe modesty as a lifestyle rather than for religious purposes. “I have found the modest market in the UK to be quite traditional rather than tapping into international fashion trends that suited a wider customer base,” the designer explained. “There is not just one type of modest customer; it’s a lifestyle that both religious and non-religious people can choose to be a part of.” She is also very sensitive to sustainability and uses only deadstock fabrics.

 

 

Clementina Bianchi
Editor
School
DUBAI
Course
Programme
undergraduate-BA (Hons) Degrees · 3-Year courses