With the growth of Islam comes a huge wave of demand in the modest fashion market, affecting both Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
However, this surge in the modest fashion market would not have reached its current level with organic (unpaid) exposure. The Internet and social media has provided plenty of advantage and opportunities over the years for Muslim entrepreneurs and influencers to showcase their products and influence the culture of fashionable modest dressing to international audiences.
For example, Somali-American supermodel Halima Aden became the first hijab-wearing Miss Minnesota USA pageant contestant in 2016. She has continued her influence in the fashion world by gracing the covers of major fashion magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Allure and British Vogue and collaborated with Turkish modest fashion e-tailer Modanisa to release a collection of 27 headscarves. As of May 2020, she has more than 1.1 million followers on Instagram.
The desire to share all that is stylish
There are many reasons modest fashion has gained so much media exposure in the past decade. For some, it came from a need of a community where people can share their views on modest clothing as a focus. Jennifer Loch founded Jen Magazine to cater to Mormon women who want to learn more about modest fashion. She said:
“When I started in 2004, there were no blogs, no bloggers, no modest fashion bloggers with hardly one or two stores selling modest clothing. Three years after I started, fashion blogging became a thing.”
For others, it could stem from the desire to break from suppressive views and reclaim one’s culture and faith. Kuwaiti Muslim blogger Ascia Al Faraj started her blog The Hybrids because she was tired of the local notion that women should stay away from the media. She also found it frustrating trying to adapt to the styles of international fashion bloggers while keeping in mind her cultural and religious guidelines. She currently has 2.7 million Instagram followers and 265,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel.
International waves from homegrown fashionistas
Social media is a free for all platform for anyone to share their likes and dislikes online, and modest fashion is fast becoming a hot topic among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Our Malaysian fashionistas are not to be overlooked, as many has become global influencers for modest fashion.
The entertainment industry is no stranger to less-than-modest outfits. However, it does not seem to affect LA-based Malaysian singer-songwriter Yunalis Mat Zara’ai on her fashion choices. Instead, her signature style of modest outfits and turbans have become an icon both in the entertainment world and in the high-fashion scene. As of now, she has 859k Instagram followers, attended fashion weeks in New York and Paris, collaborated with various fashion designers and have even signed on with Wilhelmina Models last year.
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Siti Sarah Shah Nor
Founder of Modvier, a multi-label modest fashion store, Siti Sarah has been in the modest fashion industry for more than a decade and is a hit among the online modest fashion consumers in Malaysia. She first dived into the modest fashion business when her husband started Ammara, a modest fashion online boutique.
According to her profile, Siti Sarah has showcased her collections at Islamic Fashion Festival, KL Fashion Week, Malaysian International Fashion Week, Hari Kraf Kebangsaan, Hari Batik Malaysia and Melbourne Fashion Week. She is also made vice president of the Association of Muslim Apparels Entrepreneurs and Designers. She currently shares her brand’s latest fashion trends and releases, passions and family life with her 70.7k Instagram followers.
Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor
Actress, TV Host and entrepreneur Neelofa founded Naelofar Hijab in 2014 and it has since grown massively to sell more than 10 million hijabs. It is also currently selling products to more than 37 countries including Singapore, Indonesia and the US. The company has also worked with major brands such as AirAsia, Starbucks and Swarovski.
Neelofa did not only find success in her modest fashion business but has raked in a notable following on her social media accounts owing to her fashionable tastes with modest clothing. These facts are clearly shown as she made it onto the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list in 2017, and currently has 7.2 million followers on her Instagram account.
A simple search on Instagram shows 2.5 million posts with the hashtag #modestfashion and 30.2million posts with the hashtag #hijabers. Modest fashion models are gracing fashion shows and prominent fashion magazine covers, while influencers are generating millions of followers on Instagram.
It is no doubt influencers and their followers play a huge role in the market boom for modest fashion in the world, and it will not stop anytime soon. Hence, it is great timing for SMEs specialising in modest fashion to collaborate with these fashionistas, showcasing the practicalities of being stylish and modest while living in the real world both to local and international clientele.
Muslims millennials have been taking the modest fashion world by storm, following the latest trends from their favourite social media influencers and sharing new styles and ideas via social media. The surge in exposure and interest towards modest fashion throughout the world is partly owing to widespread Internet access and social media usage.