Over the years many ladies favour to dress modestly which has become mainstream. The vast majority of audiences believe that there’s a gap within the market, and their desires haven’t been met, and they believe that it’s the quickest growing fashion trend at the moment. ‘Studies are saying its growing exponentially, its set to grow by about fifty percent between now and 2020 meaning billions of pounds’. (ITV, 2018)
The market is for women whose ‘appearance’ may share many elements of modest styling, but very fashionable in terms of religion or not showing lots of skin. The internet has been the fastest growth of the modest fashion area, especially social media. From research already carried out, it was thought that e-retail was making it possible for companies and brands to meet the needs of this niche market. Women looking for modest clothing were more likely to shop from online companies such as Aab, Zara, Uniqlo, outside their belief because online shopping is easier and not judgemental. People find it easier and nobody sees what you look like or your style in what you purchase, therefore can ‘hide’ this way.
Nazmin Alim is creative director at Aab, which is one of the World’s leading modest and Islamic fashion brands for women, that opened its first retail store in London and has been making modest wear for 10 years. She states, ‘in the office, she settles on tuxedo shirts and white trainers – a sort of sexless template for my work persona, others at the top of their game are also dressing modestly’. Likewise, she had started her modest clothing online where people can view and easily shop.
She states the idea of dressing modestly has always been around, however the fast-growing population of younger women has filled the gap in the market that was lacking. As other women are getting influenced to dress modestly. Aab is offering an “alternative fashion choice”. These clothes are not just for Muslim women but any women who feel more comfortable with their legs and arms covered. See Figure 1 Nowadays, women don’t need to dress in a revealing way, to attract attention, they have character and power. From primary research, speaking to quite a few males they feel that nowadays it’s a lady’s personality that’s doing the attracting.
Likewise, Hana Tajima, a British-Japanese convert to Islam, designer and visual artist is one of the most famous fashion bloggers who collaborated with Uniqlo for an A/W 2015 collection. She says that there is no one definition of what modest fashion means, but it primarily relates to having a degree of awareness
when it involves covering up elements of your body. “The reality is that everyone has their own idea of what modest fashion means to them”. (Hana Tjima, Who, What, Wear, 2018)
How is it becoming a ‘trend’?
Over the years, women from various faiths have embraced modest clothing. Skinny jeans have been replaced by wide-legged pants and short dresses with flowing skirts. Many celebrities follow this style such, as Amal Clooney dressed in white wide leg pants. See Figure 3
Especially Muslim women, who have always had a long difficult time finding the impeccable outfit for themselves; something that isn’t revealing yet but goes with the latest fashion trends, the choices have always been disappointingly limited. If a woman chooses to dress herself modestly, regardless of her faith, she would either look too dull or look untrendy. However, not anymore as designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY and Diana Kotb who design luxury garments specifically for modest women. Her clothing focuses on the quality of the fabric, construction, with perfect finishing of the garments. Her designs are made to look sophisticated and can be worn by any women on a daily basis, looking fashionable but without showing too much skin. See Figure 4
However, as the modest fashion market is expanding within the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), according to my research in which I asked people who dress modestly, ‘Is dressing modestly a trend or because of a certain religion’? The comments were all quite similar that there are more and more young people identifying “as trend, not religion.” Modest dressing is a new trend, and anyone can dress modestly.
I would make the point that women have different ways to dress modestly, the way they interpret this trend can change. Within any religion, there will be some different interpretations and practices. London is so multicultural and is one of the fashion capitals of the World, where fashion here is so vibrant and alive. There are many youngsters and designers that will easily fill the gap in the market with various new collections.
However, the modest fashion trend has been going on across the globe with big brands in fashion, celebrities and entrepreneurs. Well-known brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Mango, Zara and DKNY coming up with modest collections that they have never done before, to specialise and filling the gap in the market. We are also seeing many celebrities including Rihanna (Figure 6) wearing the Islamic headscarf, and Beyoncé (Figure 5) dressing in an abaya, a long loose fitted dress. Many designers and entrepreneurs across the globe are now tapping into this market.
Likewise, several celebrities like Adele delights the fashion world in custom-made dresses and haute couture, however Adele bares her arms or displays more than an ankle. Many magazines and websites have cited her as one of the most modestly dressed performers of our time, Adele prefers more simple clothes rather than too revealing. “Exploiting yourself sexually is not a good look, I don’t find it encouraging.” (LDSLiving, 2016)
Though Adele might not fit the stereotype of today’s performers, she prides herself on being different. And that difference sets her apart.
There are many celebrities out there nowadays dressing modestly, some may dress because of their age and shape, or because modest dressing is a new fashion trend.
In 2003, Victoria Beckham’s dress was low-cut with a hemline just below the knee when she accompanied her husband, to Buckingham Palace. In 2017, her hemline was down to her ankles when she revisited again. (BBC, 2017) See Figure 8
Looking back at a few years ago Victoria Beckham, once associated with Little Black Dresses and silk green hot pants on the catwalk, now she’s more likely to be seen in long, loose dresses with only a bit of flesh on show.
The concept of modest dressing has always been around, but there wasn’t anyone to fill the gap in the market. However, over the last couple years, the fast-growing population of young Muslim women has pushed the idea on social media. Nowadays, modest wear can be seen and worn by anyone which is all just a new trend. There is a vast majority of designers, YouTubers, vloggers and Bloggers making an impression on many of the audience with the sense of modest clothing that they make it look fashionable. On Instagram, there is around 1 million posts with the hashtag #modestfashion. See Figure 9 Nowadays Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media which has 800 million monthly active users.
Women who dress modestly are shown to not find clothes that are stylish and modest, resulting in having to buy clothes to layer all the time. Young women on social media vented their frustration, in order to make distinctive and classy outfits on a totally different platform with what was on the market to them. However, they took the first step for the change to happen in the trend. There are many designers such as Nazmin Alim who is the founder of Aab brand, where she specialises in everything from coats to swimwear, that suited the needs of many women. In no time, these personalities on Instagram and several blogging sites started getting attention and gaining thousands of followers and likes.
Famous faces like Dina Tokio, Sobia Masood, whom are Instagrammers and Bloggers and many other social media personalities have made a huge impact in the modest fashion industry. These characters have created a trend, where they shared their stylish modest outfit, tutorials and tips where people admired their styles. They have become people that mostly the younger generation look up for fashion inspiration, especially on Instagram which is a good way for promotion and showing how they have filled the gap in the market. As a result of this more people started sharing their modest styles on social media, which changed the view of modest fashion to a wide range of people.
My aim was to research if modest wear is currently one of the forefront trends in fashion. From collating all my research, it shows that it’s become a new trend with many celebrities, designers and Youtubers that have filed the gap in the market. From my secondary research, according to the Global Islamic Economy Report, the Muslim fashion spend alone in the UK is estimated to reach £226 billion by 2020.
(Who, What, Wear, 2018)
Many of the women I spoke to felt that the next stage for modest fashion lies in diversity. Personally, I feel that modest dressing is about choice and preferences, which is all beautifully styled pieces that would go with an individual’s personality and provide a fashion-forward approach to being in season. In many ways, modest dressing provides more opportunities and different trendy clothing for women to dress stylishly.
I would make the point that women interpret the needs to dress modestly in many various ways that, some may dress because of their age and shape, and the way they interpret it can change over their lives either it’s religion or trend. Within any one religious denomination, there will be a number of different interpretations and practices where we can see that modestly dressing has certainly taken over and is setting out a new trend in the fashion industry today.