[Shereen Speaks] 01. Modest Fashion Is Here And The Industry Will Never Look Back September 16 2020, 7 Comments

by Shereen Ahmed 

A tale as old as time, modest fashion throughout history 

Although 'modest fashion' seems like it was something born out of the rise of Instagram fashionistas, it has been around since fashion's inception emerged as more than 'necessity wear'. We saw it adorn royals in the early Ottoman Empires, the Elizabethan England age with wide skirts, in Hollywood: gracing editorials in magazines, on TV screens, and in our day-to-day lives. Chances are, you donned modest fashion at some point in your life, before even knowing that it had an entire niche categorised for itself. 

Social media and the billion-dollar industry of modest fashion

But by modern definition, modest fashion is now known as the category in fashion that keeps up with the latest trends in casual wear without compromising a person's choice for dressing conservatively. Modest wear notoriety today is all thanks to Muslim women worldwide, who pushed for the inclusivity by creating something missing in the market for them. I watched a mini-documentary on The Rise of Modest Fashion by Global News, and it's crazy to see how much has changed in fashion - in just a few years. 

A lot of the power that comes with the production of modest fashion or the 'rise' of designs that cater to modest, conservative daily wear gives its customers a diverse range of options that weren't as excessively available until Instagram influencers and online businesses came through. Today, the stigma behind finding the middle ground between fashion and modesty is gradually diminishing, and international brands have taken note. Mainstream fashion retailers like Zara and H&M have even added special Ramadan and Eid collections available worldwide. Social media helped communicate the need, eventually transcending change, along with the innovative women who brought on the change they wished to see in the market and, in turn, introduced the world to something that should have been the norm anyway. 

How a humble dream that started in the UAE continues to empower women and the modest fashion industry 

If you're reading this on the ayaso Boutique blog, chances are you've taken part in modest fashion or at least take a liking to it. I wasn't aware of modest wear in the slightest, or the lack thereof, since I was on the opposite spectrum wearing fast fashion and following whatever trends were around, until I met Somaya (the founder of ayaso Boutique.) It must have been about five years ago when a conversation sparked between her and me in Abu Dhabi that led to long-term work partnerships and friendships - until date. The energy an individual exudes can be verbal, nonverbal, or just a 'vibe' that we feel off of one another. I dare say that the exchange of empowerment between Somaya and I was ideal from the very beginning. 

Since its inception, working with this brand gave me a sense of home while I studied and eventually worked in Dubai, the one creative space I felt I belonged. Some of the highlights of representing a brand that aims to empower women is seeing the looks on their faces when they throw on an ayaso Boutique kimono, each styling it differently, adding their own self-expression. Five years of meeting celebrities, both local and international, UAE royalty and other like-minded creatives and being made to feel like I'm part of more than just a clothing brand, but a movement, holding hand-in-hand with those in the industry who are continually adapting to ensure inclusivity is intact.

Seeing five years of ayaso Boutique's growth and consistency amazes me. I used to ponder how a line of kimonos, abayas, and jalabiyas could do so well in the fashion industry, but now I know that it's the meaning and intention behind a brand that makes its products sell. Today, we see brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Dolce & Gabbana hop on to the industry, catering to its mostly Muslim clientele, and with more and more modest fashionistas coming into prominence - it's only just the beginning.

So you out there, if you’ve read this far, keep supporting local communities, purchase from brands, speak up and empower the ladies around you. The only way to see cultures, preferences, and styles being embraced by major retailers is to give it much importance. It's all a domino effect once we start taking action, even an Instagram like goes a long way! 

Follow ayaso Boutique on Instagram here.