We all remember that 2017 moment from New York Fashion Week when the trailblazing, hijab-wearing Muslim model Halima Aden made her debut at Kanye West’s show. What was once a controversy is today a movement, a trend, a new fashion that says more. Aden presented ‘hijabi’ street style, a trend-led look in which headscarves were worn and clothes were beautifully conservative. Along with the popularity of this look, other fashion consultants and Modest fashion specialists like Hanan Houachmi helped mainstream fashion understand what modest fashion actually is. To the French-Moroccan digital creator and former modest fashion columnist, modest wear is: ”the ultimate act of feminism from a fashion stand point. Dressing less revealingly and not compromising with comfort brings me more confidence and forces people to look beyond whether I am attractive/sexy or not, especially in a professional setting.”

To many designers and creative directors, Modest wear is the new minimal, it’s an inspiration and a direction that has become the essence of their fashion labels, it seamlessly embodies and empowers the woman of today and strikes the perfect balance of modern and simple cuts. To Mona Mikati, founder of the brand ‘Mounay’, modest fashion is a very interesting concept that is popular in our part of the world, and is increasing in popularity across the globe, ”It brings together the concept of style, but without being too revealing. But in reality, for us as a brand, it’s also all about classiness, a chic way to wear our clothes. It highlights the elegance of a woman in a very subtle way which definitely would turn heads in this day and age,“ adds Mikati. The label was first established in 2013 and is based between Beirut and Dubai and is known for its carefully picked fabrics, beautifully designed cuts and eye-catching colors.

Boundless creative freedom

Winner of Qatar Fashion Awards, Maryam Al Darwish, views modest wear as dignified and elegant and not restraining or limiting, ”This also applies to the design process, where modest wear does not limit the creativity that comes with designing caftans and abayas. In fact, I find joy in creating pieces that I personally wear, while also representing my culture.“

Other local fashion brands present their own takes on what modest fashion is. Take for example YNM, a Dubai-based ready to wear label known for its contemporary abayas and founded by Creative director Yasmin Al Mulla. YNM’s pieces are simple and elegantly refined contemporary hand-made garments. Al Mulla believes that fashion is an art form that helps her portray and create specialized pieces according to her vision and direction and through working at her own firm she has boundless creative freedom in the art of fashion design.

Another example of modern modest dressing is Abadia, the Saudi ethical luxury brand founded by Shahd AlShehail. Not only is she known for her commitment to preserving the craftsmanship of the Arabian Peninsula, which is evident through her strong and continuous partnerships with the artisan community, but the brand is also conceived for the global, multidimensional woman whose fashion choices echo her personal values and lifestyle. AlShehail seeks out unique pieces, she cares about the impact of her decisions on people and the environment and she takes pride in her personal and cultural stories.