Islamophobia: Can Modest Fashion Tackle the Prejudice?

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As hostility against hijab-wearing women continues to escalate throughout the Western world, so are the profit margins of modest fashion outlets today. Muslims in Australia – and different parts of the Western world – have found themselves battling negative sentiments surrounding Islam and their fashion preferences. But as more and more women embrace their identity, this bigotry has hardly affected Islamic fashion.

$327 billion. That is the amount of money Muslims around the world are expected to spend on fashion products by the year 2020. At today’s $254 billion value and with its current growth level, that estimate cannot be dismissed as mere exaggeration. However, despite the boom the modest fashion market is experiencing, many have barely welcomed it with open arms.

News coverage and politics has played a major role in impacting the attitude of the average American toward Muslim. In 2013, for instance, Mimu Maxi – a modest fashion brand started by two orthodox Jewish sisters-inlaw, Mushky and Mimi – featured a hijab-wearing model in skirt leggings on their Instagram page. The reactions to this post were mixed. However, Mushky and Mimi didn’t relent in their decision to continue to promote the styles and fashion preferences of women of all cultures, backgrounds, and religions.

Modest Fashion Is Going Mainstream

The efforts of millennial Muslim women today – both in the fashion world and online space – are paying off. People are beginning to think differently about modest fashion and the preferred fashion style of women across different walks of life. Big fashion brands around the world now feature Hijabis in their marketing campaigns. An ideal example is H&M, with their popular commercial with Londoner model Mariah Idrissi.

British fashion label Marks & Spencer launched a burkini clothing line. Uniqlo partnered with stylist Hana Tajima for the release of a modest fashion collection. Dolce & Gabbana dedicated a part of its clothing line to modest women in January 2016, including a collection of hijabs and abayas. The Istanbul Modest Fashion Week was hosted by Modanisa in 2016 – the first of its kind. In February 2017, the first ever London Modest Fashion Week was hosted by the prestigious Saatchi Gallery. Lastly, history was made at the 2017 New York Fashion Week when Indonesian stylist Anniesa Haibuan featured with a hijab-only catwalk.

Modest Fashion: The Grand Scheme of Things

The modest fashion industry does not only interest the big fashion brands. Only a decade ago, finding modest wears was a struggle. Nowadays, there is nothing as easy. Look up the terms like Islamic clothes online or hijab online shops on Google and you will discover that almost every country in the West has its modest fashion outlets. Whether it be the biggest fashion retailers like Modanisa or little outlets in Canada, USA, UK and well as Europe, modest fashion is making a statement. This is proof of a changing society. Muslim women are becoming important players in the fashion industry, with some even opening their own freelance businesses.

Recently speaking to the owner of a modest fashion store, one of most enlightening things that came to materialize was that “People are embracing modest fashion as the new trend, covering up has become the new craze as opposed to wearing less. Everyone has their freedom of choice in what to wear, and right now it seems like modest fashion is the way to go. We have so many customers from across the globe shop from us, and all they want to do is look good but cover up appropriately, we don’t expect this trend to die soon”.

The emergence of modest fashion in the grand scheme of things today is no coincidence. A new generation of Muslim women has taken the struggle by the scruff of the neck. They do not want to make a choice between modesty and fashion. It is now a matter of finding a place in the society. A matter of taking modest fashion mainstream. While women in general fight to have a say in what their style preferences may be, modest fashion is unique as it inspires personal belief and femininity. Now, women are no longer scared to dress the way they deem fit. Covered-up fashion is slowly but surely becoming a trend.

While the news coverage platforms and politicians across the Western world may still go about spreading hate and ignorance, modest fashion brands and retailers around the world are creating jobs, creating awareness, and in no small way, making big moves into the mainstream fashion industry. Islamophobia has barely achieved any positive results – and the tide is set to turn for the worse. As more and more women – across different cultural backgrounds and religions – pride themselves in their modest wears, the market will continue to grow at an unprecedented scale. Good news it is for the fashion industry – at last!

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