By Shruti Gattani
While Muslim fashionistas are taking Instagram by storm, it’s the clothes they wear that are experiencing an exponential growth in demand. By Shruti Gattani
With Trump assuming the role of POTUS, there have been numerous moments when the mere existence of Muslims in USA has been questioned; to such an extent that young girls out of fear of violence would not wear a hijab. However, at the same time the world also witnessed and applauded Muslim women like Noor Tagouri for giving her best pose in Playboy; Halima Aden for catching eyes at some of the biggest fashion weeks and Anniesa Hasibuan for creating history not once, but twice. What’s in common – they are all proud ‘hijabis’.
In the last two years, women like them have conquered the fashion world and challenged its popular culture, by breaking the submissive image of a Muslim woman. We’ve seen a tremendous rise in modest clothing, and an increase in Muslim fashion awareness. Today Muslim consumers spend an estimated $230 billion on clothing – go by the numbers and it easily surpasses the combined clothing industry of the UK, Germany and India. This number is expected to grow to $327 billion by 2019.
Halima Aden walks the runway at the Max Mara show during Milan Fashion Week on February 23, 2017 in Milan, Italy
Can we say that his turnover has forced brands to venture into this demanding industry? Absolutely! The power of modest clothing and hijabs, per se, can be effortlessly scene on billboards, banners and magazines. Last year, American cosmetics company, Cover Girl featured a hijab-wearing Muslim, Nura Afia on its posters to promote its products, alongside world famous artistes Katy Perry and Sofia Vergara. Afia is a well-known Beauty YouTuber, and along with other hijabis, Dina Tokio, Ascia AKF and Indonesia’s Dian Pelangi who have garnered millions of followers on social media, speak about breaking the stereotype and the ongoing stigma about Muslim women. They showcase their lives as hijabis, and educate young girls as to how to mix faith and fashion.
Alia Khan, Founder and Chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council, is a promoter of Islamic fashion and design worldwide. “From the beginning, Muslim women have always challenged stereotypes,” she explains, “however the only difference is that now the Internet has also given them a larger voice and global reach. This is just the beginning to the world’s introduction of what a Muslim woman is…she is everything exciting yet she has self-awareness through care, kindness, respect and grace, which is only possible by adhering to a set of values that she was taught by her faith.”
These women opened the doors for fashion and beauty giants to foray into this section of the society. Amongst the biggies, DKNY was the first to create a Ramadan line in 2014. The brand was soon followed by Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar De La Renta, Dolce & Gabbana and Uniqlo. The latter, a popular Japanese brand collaborated with Muslim fashion designer Hana Tajima, to come out with an interesting modest wear collection. Of course, now we have even sports brand Nike venturing into this segment. They recently released an online video featuring Muslim athletes, and soon after made an announcement that they would be introducing their first-ever athletic hijab in 2018 – the Nike Pro Hijab. “Muslim women have always been your best friend and confidante, and that’s what brands like Nike and other major names, find appealing,” Khan states. “Today we are more aware of her awesomeness than ever before.”
Modest fashion is not a passing trend like metallic and pleated skirts. It’s here to stay and is being promoted day-in and day-out by young Muslimahs who believe they too have the right to play dress-up. When teenager Summer Albarcha opened the Instagram account ‘hipsterhijabis’, a photo-sharing platform – she captured thousands of searches for modest trends. Since the early 2000s, hijabis has been used as a nickname for fashion-loving women clad in a hijab.
The cultural change, acceptance of hijab as an integral part of clothing and trends that are somewhat modest in nature – all are making this industry even more influential. Women like Anniesa Hasibuan have received standing ovation for showcasing a collection where models strutted in hijabs – a first-ever for New York Fashion Week. Moreover, dedicated e-commerce platforms like Haute Elan, Hijup and MODESTyle have emerged on demand. Recently, London hosted its first modest fashion week, and last year Malaysia Fashion Week hosted a stupefying segment on modest clothing.
Models walk the runway for the Anniesa Hasibuan show during New York Fashion Week on September 12, 2016, in New York City
“While across continents, there are continuous debates pertaining to modest fashion, per se; MODESTyle Group proudly brings together faith and fashion that can be accessed by one and all. MODESTyle strongly believes in the rise of modest fashion across the world and supports this emerging industry, standing tall with its peers and counterparts. With our website, we aim to unite varied modest cultures, traditions and fashion. Its vision is to focus on providing a unique platform for all people wanting access to modest fashion,” says Timothy Chen, CEO, MODESTyle Group.
P.S. It is interesting to see how this budding billion dollar industry has effervescently captured the essence of Generation M women.