Shop window and entrance of a Gucci shop in Milan - Montenapoleone Street, Italy. Few days after Milan Fashion Week. Fall Winter 2017 Collection. Source/Shutterstock
Deborah Weinswig, a top ranked global retail analyst and Forbes contributor writes about modest fashion, what it means to the individual and how it en vogue it is. Read her article and find out why mass-market retailers and designers are taking notice of this market’s potential and joining the modest mix.
Modest fashion is gaining momentum, driven by e-commerce, social media and other nontraditional channels. What is modest fashion? Interpretations differ, but generally speaking, it refers to looking stylish while remaining relatively covered. For many, modest fashion is a personal choice that simply means wearing more traditional styles—longer hemlines or higher collars, for example. These previously “less cool” wardrobe styles are now en vogue.
In February, London hosted its first-ever Modest Fashion Week, featuring more than 40 labels showcasing styles that ranged from maxi dresses to hijabs. While modest fashion has often been associated with religious observance, it is gaining more attention among nonreligious consumers as well.
Last month, we had the opportunity to meet Nava Brief-Fried, the founder and CEO of ModLi, an online marketplace for modest, modern clothing for women. Brief-Fried described ModLi as “Etsy for conservative women.” The marketplace was created more than 15 months ago and is now the go-between for more than 100 boutiques worldwide. ModLi follows the approach that modesty can be defined in many ways, which allows the company to cater to women of different lifestyles and religions. Today, the company sells hundreds of different items, including swimwear, formal and casual dresses, shirts, and skirts, as well as head coverings and accessories. ModLi features items ranging from preteen to adult styles, and in sizes small to plus-size.
The website receives more than 150,000 visitors every month, and Brief-Fried says that 90% of ModLi’s sales are made in the U.S., which came as a surprise to her. Because ModLi is an Israeli company, she thought her target customer was going to be in Israel, but she discovered through geotracking that her target customer was actually in the U.S. Brief-Fried said the company has launched private-label brands with the intention of designing and curating items specifically for customers’ needs and wants. She said the market for modest women’s apparel presents much growth opportunity. The fact that this burgeoning niche market is not yet even measured in the U.S. by government or commercial economic analysts suggests that she is right.
According to the "State of the Global Islamic Economy Report" produced by Reuters in collaboration with DinarStandard, Muslim consumers spent an estimated $243 billion on clothing in 2015. Modest fashion purchases by Muslim women were estimated at $44 billion that year, which was approximately 18% of the total. Muslim consumer spending on clothing is expected to reach $368 billion by 2021, which would be a 51% increase from 2015.
Mass-market retailers and designers are taking notice of this market’s potential and joining the modest mix. For example, in early March, Nike introduced its Pro Hijab line for Muslim female athletes. Other brands, including DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier, Zara and Mango, have produced special collections for the Ramadan holiday. Japanese fashion chain Uniqlo introduced its Uniqlo x Hana Tajima Collection with a line of hijabs, and H&M featured a Muslim model wearing a hijab in a video ad. In January, Dolce & Gabbana released a collection of hijabs and abayas. These and other designers are contributing to the growth of the modest fashion industry.