The first ever London Modest Fashion Week (LMFW) is taking place concurrently with London Fashion Week. It was hosted by fashion house Haute Elan, which describes itself as ‘the global destination for modest fashion’, and was held at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Over 40 British and international brands presented their collections, and members of the public could buy tickets.
Modesty doesn’t have to mean anything other than that, and style and modesty are not mutually exclusive. Modest fashion refers to clothes that are loose fitting and cover the body in accordance with the principles of Islam. The definition, like the clothes, is loose, as the principles are interpreted differently in specific contexts and by individual women. The promo video for the show was directed by Dina Tokio, a superstar blogger and designer, and should give an idea of the possibilities of modest fashion.
Muslim women have always adapted and selected fashion to suit their needs and create a distinctive look, and Instagram and YouTube have enabled young Muslim women to become tastemakers for modest fashion. In 2013 MC was already highlighting the most inspirational accounts fusing ‘tradition and trends’. Part of the drive to represent modest fashion comes from a lack of representation in the fashion industry. Blogger, stylist and designer Hana Tajima told Vision magazine: ‘What motivated me was being able to put out a vision of beauty that was underplayed in mainstream fashion. I wanted to look at the idea that there are forms of beauty that are not sexualised but are still deeply meaningful.’
Demand, and progress
That gap in representation is also a gap in the market: Muslim women interested in fashion are underserved as consumers. As Romanna Bint-Abubaker, who founded Haute Elan, told Sky News: ‘The fastest growing global consumer is at the moment the Muslim market. One in three people – by 2030 – will be a Muslim in the world. That’s a huge population.’
Progress is happening: from the arrival of Dubai on the map as a global fashion centre, to international brands starting to include creations specifically for Muslim women, to the inclusion of ‘hijabi model’ Halima Aden in this year’s Kanye West Yeezy show at New York Fashion Week. The first London Modest Fashion Week suggests that there is a growing movement of both fashion houses and consumers invested in modest fashion; there’s also a market among women of all religions and tastes who want to look good without revealing their bodies.