Modesty in The Fashion Industry
Nazifa is a fashion and style contributor for SSEDITORIAL Magazine,…
Modest fashion is a rapidly growing fashion trend in the west, with numerous women embracing clothing that reveals less skin. Modesty comes with many stereotypes and myths that are being debunked in this day and age. It’s much needed too, as it gives women the power to dress comfortably whilst remaining fashionable.
To begin with, where did modest fashion come from and how has the concept formed over time? Modest fashion means covering yourself in a way that conceals any skin or the figure of the body. When people think of modest fashion, Muslim women who cover up to dress more conservatively usually spring to mind.
This is where modest fashion originated from. In Islam, women cover up their skin in order not to attract the opposite sex. However, as modest fashion increased in popularity, it branched out to many cultures and demographics. Modest fashion is loved by women, specific to no one.
In the past, modest fashion was traditionally included Abayas. Abayas cover a woman from head to toe, typically all black. This is still seen in Islamic countries all around the world. The problem women often faced with this was that there was only one option of clothing to conceal themselves with. All women would look the same, unable to express their personality or individuality through fashion.
In the age of hyper-identification, we all want our favourite brands to adapt to a change in the culture. If typical western clothing can play host to an array of designs and colours to choose from, the same can be made for other cultures in the same space. Women are experimenting and finding new ways of styling themselves. They want clothing that keeps them covered up but also feels good.
As social media began to grow, many people formed online personas to show off their personal styles. Social media plays a huge role in modest fashion as influencers who are passionate about this can show off looks online. There’s no telling the positive impact this has on women who struggle to diversify their fashion. The impact this had on modest fashion saw a demand for more conservative clothing that was less boring or simple. Even typical clothing from the high street such as wide-leg trousers and baggy turtleneck jumpers made a huge increase in sales. Women are discovering that they too can shop from brands that used to cater solely to westernised ideals.
However, modest fashion still has its struggles and there is still a long way to go in the accessibility and availability of modest fashion. There still seems to be a lack of representation for modest fashion from big brands as most women are relying on social media influencers and real people to symbolise women who love to show modesty.
Big fast-fashion chains such as Pretty Little Thing and Missguided often create collections centred around revealing clothes and outfits. They fail to include women who don’t want to dress this way. The campaigns are usually centred around the message that women have to wear revealing clothes to feel empowered. This pressurises women to dress a certain way when in reality, they should feel good in whatever they choose to wear. There are also fewer options for modesty in fashion in the summer as clothing tends to get shorter. There has been an increase in maxi dresses for this reason, but it is often hard to find a dress without compromising on a design feature such as a slit, short sleeves, or a low-cut top.
As mentioned before, the representation of modest fashion is still lacking and this can also be said for high-end fashion. There are very few modest fashion models in the industry and brands often misrepresent these models. You can read more about this here.
So why is it important for brands to include more modesty in fashion? It all boils down to representation and inclusivity.
Many of us have struggled growing up to recognise people who are just like us in the public eye. This gave us certain expectations and standards on how society wants us to be. This can be an unhealthy outlook on life as real people come from different races, cultures, sexualities, and beliefs.
We have spent decades conforming to society by what’s deemed acceptable and unacceptable in the way we dress. However, it should be our own decision to wear what we want and feel comfortable in. Thankfully, the growth of modesty fashion is causing the industry to become more aware of this. In the meantime, we’ll continue to love our favourite influencers. You’ve seen some above, but here are some extra influencers that we are loving at the moment.
Nazifa is a fashion and style contributor for SSEDITORIAL Magazine, although she occasionally contributes to sseditorial runway and education. She regularly talks about all facets of the fashion industry, including sustainability, social issues, style, and fashion. She also enjoys going to art galleries and exhibitions when she has free time.