Recent years have had us looking at modest and Islamic fashion produced by international businesses – Nike’s ProHijab campaign, Dolce and Gabbana’s high-end abayas and hijabs, and Uniqlo’s collaboration with Muslim Japanese-British designer Hana Tajima to launch its own collection of modest wear. Furthermore, the US hosted its very first Miami Modest Fashion Week (MMFW) late last year, featuring modest wear that included resort wear as well as menswear.
Founded by Malaysian-born Norsham Mohamad-Garcia, the three-day event sought to promote inclusivity and the power of choice in fashion. She believes the modest-style fashion week will cause a wow effect and will resonate with many. In an Instagram post, she said, “I believe that in America, there are a lot of mass markets behind which identity is lost. Modest designers are very creative and create unique clothes. Americans are very fond of original clothes, and the thirst for exclusivity is a big plus for modest designers.”
Expanding the Existing Market
The trend of modest clothing in the US can mean great opportunities for many SMEs globally who specialise in Islamic and modest fashion. Nevertheless, to break into the market, one must first understand why modest fashion has been increasing its presence in the US and globally.
The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/20 states Muslims spent an estimated US$283 billion on clothing alone in 2018, and cites the hot growth sectors for modest fashion in 2020 are luxury modest fashion, modest active wear, men’s modest fashion, mobile commerce and circular fashion.
According to a report published by Spire Research and Consulting in 2019, Modest wear – Fashion wakes up to modesty, the global apparel market is valued at US$3 trillion, and Muslim consumers are expected to spend more than US$368 billion on fashion by 2021. The report chalks up the growth drivers for this trend to be the change in consumer landscape, the fashion industry’s modest turn and the influence of the internet.
The report explains brands have started recognising the potential spending power of Muslims on the fashion industry and their interest in clothing deemed “modest” or “Islamic”. Because different Muslims have different tastes in clothing just like any other person, more focus has been placed on the advancements of modest fashion, from independent businesses to fashion giants such as Nike, Mango, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta and Uniqlo. At the same time, consumers have taken to social media to showcase their fashion preferences, making this the easiest way international fashion brands can get feedback on the needs and wants of modern society, particularly Muslims living in all corners of the world.
Taking Hold of Their Identity
Spotting the opportunities modest fashion present in the US, some Muslims have taken it upon themselves to venture into the market. US fashion magazine, Allure, shared 10 Muslim-Owned Fashion and Beauty Brands You Need to Know in conjunction with Muslim Women’s Day this year, sporting the classic hijabs and modern modest dressing to even clothing for the plus-sized community as well. Some businesses listed include:
- Louella – The brainchild of Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American woman to compete in a hijab for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics and also a bronze medallist, the brand seeks to offer affordable and accessible modest fashion for all women.
- Nzinga Knight New York – A high-end modest clothing line, its designer’s talent placed her as the first Muslim-American hijabi on the Emmy Award–winning reality competition Project Runway, catching the eye of many top-notch designers on the show.
- Modanisa – Hailing from Turkey, this brand now ships to the US and boasts about 16 million visitors globally via its app and desktop platforms. The brand provides an extensive collection of plus sized clothing as well.
- Noon by Noor – Founded by designers Shaikha Noor Al Khalifa and Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa in 2008, their designs have since been worn by stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Solange Knowles, and Blake Lively.
Furthermore, Muslims are not left out of sports and leisure with the success of brands like Alsharifa which offers modest and Islamic swimwear, or Veilgarments which specialises in modest active wear.
Fashion is for All
Recent times have proved that modest fashion is no longer bound to certain countries or communities, but it has taken off worldwide. The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/20 suggests that the modest fashion industry can boost GDP, develop local talent and generate jobs for countries such as United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore among others.
Businesses can also look toward the non-Muslim communities who also share modesty concerns in modern fashion. In the US itself, one can see modest wear retails such as Modestiq and Modest Apparel USA catering to Western buyers seeking modest fashion for religious or non-religious reasons. Hence, this trend for modest fashion is not just for Muslims, but for everyone.
Halima Aden, the first American fashion model to don the hijab in the Miss USA Minnesota pageant, shares this sentiment. In her interview with Vogue Arabia, she says,
“What the world needs to realise is that you don’t have to wear a hijab to be modest. I have friends who aren’t Muslim, who are very modest and who don’t wear the hijab. It’s not a one-size-fits-all term.”