Right now, as we speak, up and down the high street a modest wear revolution is taking place. Sure, once upon a time, if I were to mention the term ‘modest fashion’ undoubtedly images of Muslim women dressed from head to toe in black, would instantly have popped in mind. However, things have really begun to change. Across the world, modest wear has grown in prominence and creativity as well as effectively debunking the myth that fashion is a purely western love affair. From opulent golds to intricate embroidery and delicate lace, modest wear has officially entered a new, gorgeous renaissance period.
Modest fashion is now a titan on the global scene. Accordingly, to the 2015-2016 State of Global Islamic Economy Report by Thomson Reuters, globally, Muslim consumers spent around $230 billion on clothing, and women, in particular, splashed out a hefty $44 billion worth on modest fashion alone. And with the Gulf States like Saudi Arabia and Qatar increasing in influence and economic might, no doubt such numbers will only multiply in the future. Even Dolce & Gabbana, usually renowned for raunchy sex appeal, has ventured into the world of modesty with its 2016 hijab and abaya (free-flowing maxi dress) ready-to-wear collection. Ultimately proving that even the established elite can’t ignore the modest fashion momentum.
Keen to tap into this expanding market, savvy and incredibly stylish bloggers such as Dina Torkia and Basma K, have been quick to cater to modest fashionistas everywhere by offering up their own unique brand of sparkle and flair. Both women have transformed once niche followings into thriving global communities – combined they now have 2 million Instagram followers. Increasingly inclusive catwalks have also made way for the impossibly gorgeous hijab rocking Mariah Idrissi, who most notably was seen dazzling in an H & M campaign celebrating diversity. And then, of course, there was Halima Aden. The Kenyan born model captured global headlines by being the first ever hijab wearing model to make it to the semi-finals of any major USA pageant competition.
Modest wear can provide women with the opportunity to reclaim dressing for themselves, and away from the notion that femininity must always equal showing flesh. But, of course, modest wear isn’t exclusively for Muslim women… modesty is up for interpretation. The desire to remain covered can come from any woman and doing so doesn’t necessarily require religious reasons. Modesty can simply be a matter of choice, and all women regardless of how much or how little they wear, should be allowed to choose how they dress. Fashion doesn’t need to be synonymous with only sexiness or conservativism, it can be and mean so much more than that. Fashion should always be about empowerment and after all, the desire for individuality and freedom of self-expression are universal. Skirt or abaya – girl, you just do you.