Modest fashion has seen the runways of New York and London, but it has yet to become a recognisable sector of the fashion industry. Modest fashion is used interchangeably with Muslim fashion, although anyone can sport these clothes. However, the Muslim population makes up the majority of the market for this kind of fashion.
When we saw hijab-clad women prancing the runways in New York at the Anniesa Hassibuan show, we thought modest fashion was finally getting the recognition it needed. However, that’s far from the truth because the consumers feel there’s a serious lack of variety for them, especially from established luxury brands.
This lack has resulted in the emergence of independent labels focusing entirely on modest fashion, both in the West and in Muslim-majority countries in the East.
Although there has been a notable increase in options for hijab by luxury brands and retailers, it’s clear that most brands saw modest fashion as more of a trend. What they need to realize is that for most women opting for modest fashion, it’s a lifestyle, not a trend. So there’s a big market to capitalize on, especially in countries with higher spending power.
A $277 Billion Market
According to the Global Islamic Economy Report in 2020, the modest fashion market was worth over $277 billion. Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia are the biggest markets for modest fashion, presenting great opportunities for Western luxury brands.
Currently, the modest fashion needs of this market are being met by local brands that are mostly run independently on a smaller scale. But for many Muslim women, the fashion element is missing.
The Challenges for Modest Fashion
The modest fashion industry isn’t without its challenges. For one, it’s a pretty diverse market than what many credits it for. There are over two billion Muslims spread across the world, practising different interpretations of the religion and following their unique cultures. Some women like to dress modestly but don’t cover their heads, whilst some go for head-to-toe coverage.
For brands, generalizing the modest fashion consumer is a recipe for disaster. So they need to do their homework about the needs of those women.
Another issue is cultural sensitivity. Of course, marketing plays a vital role, but it has to be appropriate and not hurt the sentiments of the people or disparage their culture in any way. For Western luxury brands going into markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, or Turkey, learning the culture before coming up with a marketing strategy is essential.
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Notable Modest Fashion Brands
While luxury fashion has yet to catch up with the modest fashion market, many other brands have emerged to fill the gap. Louella, Veiled Collection, and Niswa Fashion are some of the most celebrated brands for modest fashion.
LYRA Swim is giving burkinis a fashion twist, making modest swimwear more fashionable. It’s worth mentioning that some fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M are also gradually including more modest options, including head coverings.