by Joean “Iman” Montayre

It was a refreshing change for the modest fashion enthusiasts, for the Muslims in general; who had been the most active flagbearers of this mode of dressing; when Modest Fashion Weeks set up a gigantic runway for the glamour, opulence and flair of lengthy and loose outfits paraded down in one of the most spectacular events of fashion’s modern history. For the world, it was just another runway show but for the Muslims it felt like a sweet victory.

It was the year 2016, in Istanbul, and for the first time a fashion show stage was set up for everything but modest fashion. The coming out of modest fashion on its own stage with such magnitude shook the fashion world that had long been monopolized by the mainstream trends. Perhaps, it seemed impossible for modest fashion to come back.

So, why did it matter and how did it become successful

In fact, it was not the first time that modest fashion enthusiasts of the modest garb-consumer communities to have set up a fashion show for its sake. But what set Modest Fashion Weeks apart from all the modest fashion shows of today and in the past was its inclusivity. It understood what is need to be done and how to address the issue of globalization and how to revolutionize modest fashion. For them, there was no more shying away. The organizers of the show- ThinkFashion with collaboration of Modanisa- gathered all the mighty talents of the modest fashion world to historically shatter barriers that night. The grandiose and exclusivity that equaled the elites, the extravagant production with the caliber and eloquence of the giants, the limelight that was once only a dream by every modest fashion designer was finally fulfilled. The show featured not only modest fashion designers from one region or two, but it invited as many as it can from different corners of the world. Not only that, the show was not only limited to Muslim participants. Suddenly, the once frowned- upon style soon became a part of the mainstream.

Who would see it coming? When the epoch of industrial age, its main language is to free women from the bondage of lengths to a more skin-showing styles that will resonate her freedom and sophistication. After hundreds of years when dressing up modestly became a symbol of naivety and low class, modest fashion movements broke free this notion and claimed it regality back.

3 years prior 2016, the establishment of Islamic Fashion Design Council led by Alia Khan gave Islamic fashion a voice and a figurehead which prepared the talents and personalities that would later shape up the modest fashion industry we know today. IFDC’s presence and Miss Khan’s ambitious approach during the resurgence of modest fashion movement that started way back a decade earlier gave it momentum and raised the morale of its supporters. Slowly modest fashion gained its strength when young Muslim ‘hijabis” took the internet by storm which attracted the media.

Until Istanbul Modest Fashion week came and took the next leap to allow modest fashion shows to start elsewhere following other majour launch in large key cities such as London, Dubai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Amsterdam, that had encouraged more modest fashion shows to be initiated including in the United States of America, Australia, Russia, in South Africa and other African countries, and recently in the farthest east — the Philippines. With gratitude to the modest fashion influencers in all social media and Franka Soeria; one of the mighty brains of Modest Fashion Weeks; whose works paid off and now, we can almost hear modest fashion everywhere not only on social media but on the streets!

But what comes next?

Modest fashion movement victoriously opened consumers interest but are there enough resources and easy access? Are we offering more variety? Are we addressing and foreseeing the problems that is already taking place and what is yet to come?

What I noticed is that we don’t. Though there are many brands littered on Instagram but the choices and the categories are still limited. Where are the children’s wear? The men’s wear? Where are the ready-to-wear choices for brides and groom? For the petites, the small people and plus- sized? How about the active and athletes? How about the aged and teen- agers? How about the corporate? The breast- feeding and the pregnant? What I see are mostly for ladies of a certain age bracket and size as if modest fashion forgot the rest of us.

Self-sufficiency. This is our next goal.

When we talk about modest fashion, it doesn’t only concern designers and manufacturers to make clothes that looks great on Size 4- and 20-year-olds. Modest fashion should address the whole demographic of consumers. Who are we selling to? Where and who is our possible market? Are we the only modest people in this planet? Have we truly addressed modesty and built unity with all other modest fashion communities?

In case we are only catering to young adults who can post to Tiktok or Facebook or Instagram, to my fellow fashion designers, it is time to reconsider our branding and our production line. Because there are still many women and men out there who are seemed left and but couln’t seem to benefit from our industry.

Self- sufficiency means we also need textiles and raw materials. While the world’s temperature is getting hotter and some places colder, there is an urgent need to develop textiles that are conducive to the times, and who is better in developing this industry but us who knows what it feels like being covered from head to toe! I believe it is also about high time that we take responsibility in producing raw materials and everything we need for the modest fashion industry to thrive, in a manner that doesn’t ruin our ecosystem, as being (as we take pride in saying) the vicegerents of the Earth.

I will close this article with a hope of a more, and truly, inclusive modest fashion industry.

*Post Script: This article was written for Al Huda Center of Modest Fashion

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