Revolutionising modest fashion

April 1, 2019 | By Rupkatha B

The modest fashion market is estimated at $44 billion (AED161 billion), expected to be worth $327 billion (AED1,201 billion) by 2020. It is a market that attracts a global audience for clothes that are chic and comfortable yet less revealing. Alongside regional and local names such as The Modist, some globally labels like Dolce & Gabbana have also started designing a modest fashion range. To stimulate the growth of the Islamic fashion industry and support designers, mainly home-grown, who are part of the modest fashion industry, the Islamic Fashion Design Council (IFDC) was set up.

RetailME recently spoke to the IFDC founder & chairwoman, Alia Khan about the rapidly growing modest fashion industry.

“Modest fashion has always been there and it is a large enough market. It is certainly not a new segment in fashion,” Khan asserts. “Women and men have been subscribing to the modest lifestyle. There was always a customer profile that tended to lean towards faith-based guidelines of modesty, stretching across lot of cultures and faiths. There is a big demand for modest fashion, not just by a certain type of people, but globally.”

What has changed is the awareness of modest fashion, driven by social media, Khan states. “Suddenly a set of young consumers – with massive friend followings on social media – started posting about a dress that they bought from Zara that goes well with a scarf. They started talking about a full sleeved blouse and a not-so-short skirt being cool. It is this ‘selfie’ generation that drove the awareness about modest fashion being cool. That is the ‘modest revolution’, a term that IFDC has coined to showcase the spin on modest fashion.”

A new generation of people, not coming with a faith-based identity, are now getting interested in modest wear. They are keen to wear a full sleeve long dress, and yet be fashionable.

Soon enough, global fashion brands joined the modest fashion bandwagon. Dolce & Gabbana came up with their hijab and abaya lines. DKNY came up with their Ramadan collection. Modest fashion became a category that they started looking into. “Resultantly, Islamic or modest fashion became a legitimate category of fashion that should have always been there,” Khan asserts. “It was, so far, a hidden category. People used to shop for their scarves and long sleeves, but had to sift through a lot. Now a modest fashion section in a store is commonplace.”

“As of 2018, the spending power on modest fashion was $322 billion on a global scale. Reports suggested that the UK, France and Germany made up the second largest spending power outside of Turkey, which is a very large market for us. Then there are Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” she cites. “People assumed modest fashion to be an Arab movement, but that’s only a small part of the picture. Indonesians, Malaysians and South Asians are big consumers of modest fashion. Add to that a section of population in Europe, the US and Australia. It is quite a global movement boasting a loyal audience, because it is not a passing fancy. Brands doing modest fashion can win a customer for life, if they do their job right.”




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