What’s Next for Modest Fashion in 2019?
Modest fashion continues to gain momentum across the globe as major clothing labels like DKNY, Debenhams, Nike, Dolce & Gabbana, and H&M are launching modest wear collections. Modest fashion shows are also gaining ground in major cities like London, Dubai, and Istanbul. Meanwhile, more hijabi women are being featured in media — a trend started by Somali-American model Halima Aden, who not only graced the covers of magazines like Vogue and Allure, but was also the first to walk in the New York and Milan Fashion Weeks.
A clear indicator of modest fashion’s growth is the fact that it is no longer strictly associated with women of certain religious beliefs. After interviewing several designers during 2018’s Dubai Modest Fashion Week, Gulf News discovered that none of them associated modest fashion with the word “Muslim”. Instead, modest fashion stands for elegance, comfort, style, and individuality.
This explains the growing interest of non-Muslim women in modest fashion. Hijab designer Fatima Rafiy expressed surprise when she found that many non-Muslim women were interested in her products. Similarly, Swedish designer Iman Aldebe’s Happy Turban brand has also found a market among non-Muslim women. It would seem that long hemlines, high necklines, and headscarves are a rising trend that are extremely popular among fashionistas across the world.
However, given recent developments, modest fashion still has a long way to go. For instance, an op-ed published here on Gaya Magazine pointed out the lack of dark-skinned women in modest fashion, evident by 2018’s Dubai Modest Fashion Week. Fashion influencers like Hodan Yusuf and Dina Tokio voiced their outrage over the apparent racism even within the Muslim community.
On the bright side, the issue has sparked a new movement called #BlackMuslimahExcellence, which is led by Female Muslim Creatives founder Najwa Umran. Perhaps in 2019, we will see the initiative take off on a wider scale, due to international fashion brands already actively focusing on racial diversity, which has been evident in recent runway shows. The Fashion Spot published a graph showing that 2018’s fall shows were the most race-inclusive ever, with 32.5% being models of colour. It’s high time for modest fashion to catch up in this sense, and maybe even surpass the achievements of the wider fashion world.
Another concern that the modest fashion industry needs to address this year is size inclusivity. Writer Saira Mahmood explains that the majority of modest designers feature only straight-sized models in their collections, making it seem like modest fashion only caters to one body type. The truth is that fashion in general should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of size or body shape, and that’s an advocacy actively promoted by Woman Within. The body positive brand explains that every type of clothing, be it casual, business, or active, should come in a wide range of sizes that flatter a plus-sized body just as it would a straight-sized.
All in all, finding hijab clothing remains a pretty stressful ordeal for plus-sized women. It’s difficult enough to deal with the relatively limited options for hijabi women, but they are also faced with the added hassle of searching for clothes with extended sizing. That said, 2019 should give more focus to size inclusivity, either by highlighting plus-size hijab influencers like Leah Vernon and Intan Kemalan Sari, or encouraging modest fashion designers to feature plus-size clothing and models.
At the end of the day, the rise of modest fashion isn’t happening by chance. This is all part of the fashion industry’s long overdue wake-up call to its lack of diversity. Since clothing labels around the world are beginning to exert efforts to cater to a diverse audience, the modest fashion industry should follow suit shortly. Different initiatives and movements, as well as active participation from the modest fashion community, can help make this a reality for hijabi and modest women all over the globe.