London has long been known as one of the great fashion capitals of the world and so it’s of little surprise that the modest fashion industry is now targeting the British capital.
London Modest Fashion Week kicks off on Good Friday at The Ritz before moving to iconic venue Olympia as part of the Muslim Lifestyle Show this weekend.
A truly glamorous affair, it will showcase the latest clothing trends from an exciting mix of established and emerging designers from over 20 countries including Britain, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, the UAE and the USA.
Somalian-American Halima Aden – the world’s first hijab-wearing model – will grace the runway at Olympia for the opening catwalk at noon on Saturday. The Muslim model (pictured below for Max Mara) made her debut modelling for Kanye West’s Yeazy Season 5 show in New York, strutting down the runway in a hijab and fur coat.
Visitors to the Muslim Lifestyle Show will see top models wearing the latest modest fashion styles, and can buy from leading brands. They can also participate in talks where keynote speakers will cover topics such as ‘Inspiring Muslim Women’, ‘What It Takes to Be a Global Brand’ and ‘Modest Fashion Trends of the Globe’, moderated by event partner Think Fashion.
It wasn’t until recently that ‘modest fashion’ became a thing. A decade ago, women who embraced a more conservative style of dress had very little choice. Clothes were drab and unflattering and for Muslim women especially, who are obliged by their faith to wear non-revealing clothing that covers their hair, arms and body, the options were usually just big black, and baggy. Not anymore.
Modest fashion economy globally worth $230 billion
Today, young, style-conscious Muslims have more choice than ever and modest fashion is all the rage. Just this week, former Girls Aloud pop singer Nicola Roberts appeared in her second BBC documentary about ‘hijabis’ (Muslim women who adopt Islamic dress), this time visiting New York. While American actress Lindsay Lohan is regularly photographed donning ‘Islamic attire’, especially during her visits to Turkey.
It may be a relatively new sector, but modest fashion is booming. The 2015-2016 State of the Global Islamic Economy report valued the industry at $230 bn globally and it’s predicted to rise to $327 bn by 2019. It is currently worth over £150 mn to the UK economy.
The hype and sheer scale of opportunities has led to both haute couture and high street brands jumping on the modest clothing bandwagon, with collections from Dolce & Gabbana, Nike, DKNY, and H&M. And from May this year, a partnership between Debenhams and British modest clothing brand Aab will see its modest clothing sold in the British department store’s UK and overseas branches.
Pioneering Turkish business Modanisa at the heart of modest fashion
Few may realise that at the heart of this rapidly rising sector is a Turkish business. Modanisa.com is the world’s first and largest online modest fashion portal. A start-up in 2011, today Istanbul-based Modanisa receives 9 million visitors to its site each month and is a major driving force in the sector’s global expansion.
Modanisa services its global customer base in six different languages and has sales into 103 countries. The site lists over 30,000 items from some 300 brands for customers to choose from, including casual wear through to evening dresses, sports and swimwear, and accessories. The items are in keeping with Islamic principles while also reflecting and influencing the latest fashion trends.
Last week the innovative e-tailer received a cash injection of $5.5 mn from STC Ventures – Saudi Telecom Group’s venture capital fund. The deal was overseen and supported by the Istanbul Stock Exchange through its BIST Private Market initiative, which brings entrepreneurs and investors together. The investment will enable Modanisa to maintain its impressive growth and extend its reach.
Britain the second biggest modest fashion market in Europe
Modanisa is sponsoring this weekend’s London Modest Fashion Week (LMFW). It follows the hugely successful launch of the ground-breaking concept in Istanbul last May, developed in conjunction with consultants Think Fashion.
As the world’s largest online portal for modest fashion, Modanisa set out to create a physical platform for labels, modest fashion influencers and tastemakers to come together and showcase the latest trends. And that is exactly what they have achieved: a global gathering of the great and the good in the beautifully elegant world of contemporary conservative clothing.
The company views London as a major centre for its activities: it is Modanisa’s second biggest market in Europe, and Britain’s diverse culture and legendary expertise in the creative industries makes it a natural home for Modest Fashion Week.
So ladies, whether for religious reasons or just because you prefer a more demure look, if you’re after some inspiration, you know where to be this weekend! For more information and to buy tickets for the Muslim Lifestyle Show, which also includes food, music, and comedy, visit their website.