What Is Modest Fashion?

Everyone is wondering what is “modest” fashion. This term encompassing the notion of modesty has recently taken the fashion industry by storm. Increasingly trending, yet it is not always comprehended or perceived as it should be. In fact, there remain myths and significant confusion around modest fashion, sometimes creating reticences from some individuals to consider it as a legitimate branch of fashion. We’ll try our best to expose all the misconceptions you may have about it.

What Is Modest Fashion?

Defining modest fashion itself can be quite complex. While some see it as elegant, minimalist streamlined and discrete, others may picture it as colorful, vivid, maximalist, and eye-catching.

One thing we will all be able to concur with regardless of our opinions on modest fashion is that this fashion consists of attires with longer sleeves, wider, looser fit, and overall less-revealing profiles. Nonetheless, we can’t limit the definition of modest fashion to this one aspect.

Modest Fashion Meaning

We decided to ask fashion professionals “what is modest fashion ?”. Their thoughts and their opinions are very diverse and interesting to read. You’ll be able to read them in the first white paper we worked on to celebrate the launch of Almaze.

This white paper is an endeavor to instill in you a clearer understanding of the concept of modest fashion. The purpose of this white paper is not to give you a definition of modest fashion but rather to provide you with insights and different ways to approach and think of modest fashion. You will then be able to define by yourself what is modest fashion and what it means to you.

Download the white paper here

Why Modest Fashion?

Reina Lewis said in her book Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Mediating Faith :

“For some women, modest dressing is clearly motivated by their understanding of their religion. For others, it provides a way to reinterpret community and ethnic norms in relation to contemporary life. For other, modest dressing is less about faith or spirituality than about pragmatic options for achieving social or geographical mobility, or for responding to changes in their lifecycle (such as having children, getting older, going to a new job).”

The reasons why women choose to dress modestly are very diverse and personal.

Modest Fashion Statement

Modest fashion is a way to express empowerment. When society tends to promote nudity and a very revealing kind of fashion, modest fashion is here for women who are not okay with this vision and prefer to cover regardless of what fashion or society dictates. Women own their bodies and the way they choose to cover is their business. This is the stance modest fashion makes.

Modest fashion is a bold fashion statement for women who find their freedom and liberation in modest wear and want to unapologetically express it.

Modest Fashion Mindest

Modest fashion comes with a notion of modesty. This term according to Cambridge dictionary can be defined as “the quality, in women, of dressing or behaving in a way that is intended to avoid attracting sexual interest..” The concept of modesty itself goes beyond appearance. Modest fashion can’t be achieved if the corresponding state of mind doesn’t follow. Coco Chanel said :

“Modesty is the highest elegance”

Also, modest fashion is about inner modesty and it only succeeds when elegance in speech, behavior, and manners follow. This is an important trait to stress on because it shows that modest fashion is not confined to appearance but has a far deeper meaning. In her book, Reina Lewis also highlights this important aspect:

“Modesty is much more just a matter of clothes: it is about an attitude, a way of life, an inner quality and mode of comportment.”

Modest Fashion Movement

Modest fashion is having its moment. It is gathering an ever-increasing number of like-minded women from all over the world. This strong community is more and more visible, especially on social media. For instance, the hashtag #themodestymovement counts more than 67,600 publications on instagram and #modestfashion is doing much better with more than 1.5 million publications. On this subject, Alia Khan, chairwoman of the Dubai-based Islamic Fashion and Design Council said in bloomberg:

“Social media formulated a new ‘cool kid’ in society… Now the modest woman has a community. She no longer has to feel like she is alone.”

These new cool kids are modest fashion influencers, and they are especially present on Instagram. To name a few: Halima Aden (hijabi model), Maria Alia (modest fashion influencer).

Modest fashion is a rising movement gaining momentum that is here to stay. It is also visible with the increasing interest of regular fashion brands making more and more marketing operation and/or collections modest fashion oriented.

Modest Fashion Choice

Modest fashion, like any other form of fashion, is first and foremost a choice deliberately made by women themselves. A choice that more and more women decide to revendicate regardless of their religious or cultural background. A choice that gives them strength and empowerment. A choice completely assumed. A choice to affirm themselves paying little heed to what society thinks. A choice that lets them live on their own terms. After all, it is choice as legitimate as any other kind of fashion choice. Last but not least, a choice to decide who they are, how they want to be shown to the world and express it with style.

Modest Fashion Bloggers

The modest fashion community is very present online, on social networks, and especially on Instagram. Key influencers play a significant role in the development of this movement.

Dina Tokio @dinatokio with 1.5 million followers has a very reactive community and authored a book on modest fashion.
@leenalghouti is a visual communicator and has partnered with a lot of luxury brands such as Gucci Beauty, Jo Malone, Ralph Lauren
@leenalghouti is a visual communicator and has partnered with a lot of luxury brands such as Gucci Beauty, Jo Malone, Ralph Lauren
Saufeeya Goodson content creator @saufeeya

How Did Modest Fashion Become Mainstream?

Prior to the digital age, the consumer didn’t have control over information and could only follow what was said in magazines.

In her book, Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Mediating Faith, Reina Lewis says:

“It is the market and the Internet which have allowed modest fashion to break out of narrow religious community-based circles and go global.”

Indeed, the Internet has catalyzed the ascension of modest fashion. Consumers are becoming real actors and creators of content in a way that allows them to influence fashion. This is exactly what is happening with modest fashion. It is powered by women sharing their passion on the Internet. Then the latter being more and more visible, fashion brands were forced to adapt because this fresh multi-billion market can no longer be avoided.

Modest Fashion Industry

NYTimes Magazine in an article titled “Women, Fashion Has You Covered” reported in 2017 that Phoebe Philo, the creative director of Céline at the time wrote in an email:

“Images of women being intensely beautified, sexualized and shown like dolls over many years has had an impact on me, as I believe it has on us all.”

The work of Phoebe Philo is characterized by oversized silhouettes, streamlined and very elegant. Céline is doing modest fashion in most of its collections.

Céline | Resort 2014 Collection
Céline | Resort 2014 Collection

Another brand that fits into the definition of modest fashion is The Row, mostly composed of plain and minimalist sets with very smooth and oversized attires.

The Row Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear  Collection
The Row Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear Collection

When it comes to modest fashion, however, the link made with Muslim women wearing the hijab is very strong. Why? Because with their headcover, they are more conspicuous than other women. Thus, a woman wearing a veil is more likely to be considered as a modest fashion enthusiast than a woman headcover free. This might be the reason why modest fashion is often called Muslim fashion, which truthfully makes no sense since not all Muslims dress modestly, and all women dressing modestly are not Muslim.

Modest Fashion Week

In 2016, the first modest fashion week in Istanbul occurred. This event gathered together many modest fashion actors and was met with huge success. Since then, each year modest fashion week events are organized. There were modest fashion weeks in Dubai, Jakarta, and London. These events are now unmissable references in the modest fashion industry.

Another major event in this industry is the rise of the fashion model Halima Aden. This Somalian refugee was the first woman to compete for the title of Miss Minnesota USA. She didn’t win the beauty pageant but was noticed by Carine Roitfeld, former editor in chief of Vogue. Halima Aden then made the cover of CR Fashion Book. She also rapidly signed with IMG Models, which literally changed her life. From podiums to podiums, photoshoots to photoshoots, this hijabi fashion model made history by modeling for renowned brands such as Max Mara and by being on the cover and editorials of international fashion magazines such as Vogue. Though she is a Muslim wearing the hijab, she herself affirms that “Modesty Is Not Just for Muslim Women.”

Is Modest Fashion The Next Big Thing?

Modest Fashion is more and more trending. The fashion media WhoWhatWear informs us that “on Pinterest, searches for the term “modest fashion” has increased by 500% since the beginning of 2018″. Bloomberg also confirms the increasing interest for modest fashion stipulating that “The retail market for women who prefer to dress conservatively could be worth more than $350 billion in two years”

To address this flourishing market, more and more fashion actors are creating modest fashion collections, so we can definitely affirm that modest fashion is the next big thing.

Modest Fashion Online

Modest fashion has also taken over the e-commerce industry. Key players such as net-a-porter added a modest section in their categories. Global fashion actors have started to acknowledge the unmissable impact and opportunity behind modest fashion.

Florence Allday, beauty and fashion associate at Euromonitor said in BoF :

“Wide leg trousers, high necks, mid dresses, kaftans, and long, billowing sleeves are now wardrobe staples in Europe and America .”

Ghizlan Guenez launched The Modist in 2017, which is the first online e-commerce for luxury modest fashion. In less than a year, the platform achieved very impressive results showing that there is a big demand in terms of modest clothing. Not wanting to miss out on the new opportunities that modest fashion brings, Farfetch decided to team up with The Modist. It is another example showing that modest fashion is more than a merely ephemeral trend.

Edward Sabbagh, managing director of Middle East at Farfetch said in BoF:

“Modest dressing has grown from a market-specific trend to an increasingly global one.”

Modest fashion has great days ahead and it is just at its beginning.

Where To Buy Modest Fashion?

As seen above, modest fashion is going global. An ever-increasing number of designers, retail stores and e-commerces are embracing this new trend by proposing diverse garments to modest fashion enthusiasts. Here are some of our favorite destinations including e-commerces and modest fashion brands :

  • Blanc 8.3: A comtemporary modest label inspiring women to explore their individuality
  • The Modist: The first online luxury destination for women dressing modestly
  • Bouguessa: A contemporary womenswear made to inspire confidence
  • Anatomi: Celebrating the power of feminity

In a nutshell, modest fashion is now a global phenomenon and concern that cannot be avoided anymore. Appealing to women from all cultures and backgrounds, this inclusive fashion has no boundaries and is all about empowering the woman with modesty and elegance. Almaze Magazine will explore this trend with in-depth analysis, exclusive interviews and more exciting things. Make sure you follow to keep up with the latest updates on this industry.