London Modest Fashion Week

By: Madhiha Taseen

Islamaphobia may be widespread, but it won’t be slowing down the global modest fashion movement that has made its debut a few years ago. Since the start of 2017, three globally-held Modest Fashion Weeks (MFW) have taken place, two of which were held in London. And they’re making headlines.

The most recent MFW was just successfully wrapped up this weekend and was sponsored by Turkey based e-tailer Modanisa and partnered with the London Muslim Lifestyle Show at Olympia in Kensington, West London. The event was said to have sold out weeks in advance. It hosted over 20,000 attendees and featured shopping, runway shows, workshops, and networking and trade discussions.

After the first London MFW, Modanisa CEO, Kerim Türe, stated: “London is one of the key fashion capitals of the world, so it was important for us to bring our Modest Fashion Week concept here. The fact that the catwalk shows sold out weeks ago illustrates the demand for them.”

Modanisa had sponsored its first MFW in Istanbul in May last year and it was received with immense success, attracting industry players from all over the globe. This time, in London, the two-day premier event showcased lines from 26 designers across countries from Norway to Malaysia. The event brought together designers, retailers, modest fashion bloggers, and fashion industry professionals. The inaugural show was opened by Halima Aden, a Somali-American model renown for being the first to wear a hijab on the runway. Aden has walked in other leading Fashion Week shows, most notably for Yeezy and Alberta Ferretti.

Among London MFW’s attendees was Islamic Fashion and Design Council’s brand ambassador Leena Asad and Sena Sever, who have half-a-million social media followers each. British hijabi model Mariah Idrissi, who famously appeared in one of H&M’s campaign video, also attended MFW. Another prominent attendee was Nabiilabee, whose new BBC documentary “New York Hijabis” aired last week.

Modest fashion shows have allowed non-Muslims and Muslims alike to see just how far conservative fashion can go. Franka Soeria, a co-creator of MFW, said: “The shows illustrated how diverse modest fashion style is. Some were heavily defined by cultural influences, while others fused East-West elements, producing modern daywear and glamorous evening dresses that adhere to Islamic principles, yet appeal far beyond.”

Islam teaches that all types of clothing is allowed as long as it serves its required purpose and does not exceed the bounds set by Islamic teachings. Someone once approached the Prophet (pbuh) and asked: “What if someone likes that his clothing and his shoes are beautiful?” The Prophet (pbuh) replied: “Allah loves to see the affects of His grace upon His servant.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (2819)]

In addition, the Prophet (pbuh) wore the same type of clothes prevalent in his time and did not order people to wear a particular type of clothing. He only warned against certain aspects of clothing while worn in public, the most recognized being that it should conceal their aura (for women, this is everything except the face and hands). This is what differentiates modest fashions shows from mainstream fashion shows. The Prophet also was against clothes worn to exhibit pride and conceit.

MFW events will help publicize the Islamic fashion industry. Mainstream fashion falls short to cater for Muslim women who adhere to a modest dress code. These women pursue a variety of professional and recreational lifestyles. They need a collective network to pool ideas together to create halal, comfortable, efficient and beautiful clothing. And with the success of London Modest Fashion Week, there is definite potential.

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