Modest fashion (covered-up clothing suitable for women of every faith) is a huge global retail phenomenon. And now designer fashion brands are getting in on the action, with today's launch of new high-end site Modist. But what actually makes the modest cut? Read on for the scoop...
It’s International Womens’ Day. And fashion has never been so politically vocal, with the recent autumn/winter 2017 fashion shows a hotbed of slogan t-shirts, white bandanas to represent the industry’s support of inclusiveness and the much buzzed-about catwalk debut of hijab-wearing model Halima Aden, fashion’s new modest fashion face. A Somali-American who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, she walked for houses including MaxMara and Alberta Ferretti, below, in Milan, and Kanye West’s Yeezy in New York, with her head covered all the while.
So today’s launch of modest fashion site, Modist, couldn’t be more timely – or commercially canny. According to CNN, half a million Instagram posts (and counting) are hashtagged with the term ‘modest fashion’. And the demand for high necks, long sleeves and decorum-maintaining silhouettes isn’t just coming from Muslim women. Cultural trend analysts see it as indicative of a new wave of feminism, and the desire of young women from all faiths (or even none) to remove their bodies from the ‘object’ list, while still enjoying fabulous clothes.
Designer fashion houses have been catering to this clientele for a while – the Middle Eastern customers of French couture houses have long been able to request custom hijabs and head coverings to accompany their one-of-a-kind looks, while Dolce & Gabbana launched a collection of hijabs and abayas in 2016.
But up until now, finding real fashion pieces that fit the bill all in one place was tricky. Enter Ghizlan Guenez, the daughter of an Algerian independence leader – she’s a former banker who was brought up between Dubai, Beirut, London and Algiers. Together with a team that includes Sasha Sarokin, formerly global buying manager for Net a Porter, Sally Matthews (fomer fashion and beauty director for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia) and COO Lisa Bridgett (who also previously worked at Net a Porter as global sales and marketing director), they came up with ‘the first global online destination for luxury modest fashion’.
The team say the site is ‘dedicated to women who dress to express their style in a contemporary, fashionable yet modest manner. The offering provides a meticulously curated, high fashion platform for women whose personal dressing choices span all ages, faiths, cultures and ethnicities.’
Now onto the product – what does ‘modest’ fashion look like, seen through the lens of fashion insiders like these ladies? The site launches with hand-selected pieces from the main collections of 75 brands including Marni, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou – like this pleated Katrantzou skirt, below.
It will also feature styling advice, shopping tips and a 24/7 personal concierge and will ship to customers in 100 countries.
But will the site be featuring specially-designed collections? Several collaborations are planned – so watch this space.