Iran, Europe in solidarity with women but the stylists on the veil win

It is worth 313 billion dollars a year and insiders call it modest fashion, it is fashion that respects Islamic precepts

While French actresses and singers mobilize for
the death in Iran of Mahsa Amini
cutting off a lock of hair, the phenomenon of modest fashion, fashion that respects the precepts of Islam is no longer a taboo: once it was a niche phenomenon then it has become almost mainstream, even cool, and has involved and involves leading fashion houses and brands. Matter, for such a ‘Western’ sector, can be a source of embarrassment, given the different sensitivities on the use that women can make of their body, on how they can show it or have to hide it, even before the dramatic Iranian events, but c ‘is a great reason not to back down: the sector, which is growing rapidly, has an estimated value of 313 billion dollars in the current year.

In past years, stylists have brought veils, turbans, scarves and hoods that completely cover the face into vogue. Nothing new, mind you. If it is true that the scarf, the most chic accessory in Hollywood, has been in the sights of designers and couturiers for several seasons, it is undeniable that fashion has always played to cover and uncover heads, tying and untying one of the symbols around the neck. religious most dear to Muslims and Christians. On the catwalk, in recent seasons, balaclavas, hoods, veils and scarves have returned to do good and bad times, as at Versace, Dior or Balenciaga, while Kim Kardashian had her photograph taken at the Met Gala ‘lined’ entirely in black ( head included).

For years headwrap, hijab (the traditional Islamic veil) and abaya (the traditional Islamic overcoat, long to the feet) have been revisited by big brands, sportswear brands or independent designers. It is not an easy undertaking to combine fashion and religion but which remains a pillar for the luxury market, fed above all by customers from Arab countries. Many have understood this for some time, even if in recent years this phenomenon seems to have weakened as regards the big names in luxury. The first to launch a ‘Ramadan Collection’ was Donna Karan in 2014, with her Dkny line, creating a capsule respectful of Islamic precepts, which opened the doors of fashion to collections created specifically for the Arab market. Like her, Tommy Hilfiger and the giant Uniqlo, who collaborated closely with the Muslim designer and blogger Hana Tajima or the e-commerce site Net-A-Porter which had dedicated space to a ‘special Ramadan’ selection.

It was Nike, however, the idea of ​​creating burkini and hijab with technical fabrics while H&M in 2015 launched a campaign to promote the recycling of clothes in the stores of the Swedish giant, which immediately became viral on the net because the ad featured a model wearing the hijab, the traditional Islamic veil. Since then it has come a long way to clear ‘modest fashion’. The US giant Macy’s was the first American department store to introduce a ‘modest clothing collection’ designed for Islamic customers. In 2017 Dolce & Gabbana created a series of luxury hijabs and abayas designed for Muslim women. Over the years, everything has been seen on the catwalk: from the dear old foulard loved by Grace Kelly and Queen Elizabeth to the turban, to the balaclavas by Gucci or Balenciaga hoods.

Paving the way for the trend was also a handful of models who proudly sported the veil on the platform over the years. This is the case of the Somali top Halima Aden, former face of the international catwalks, who in 2017 made her debut at Alberta Ferretti and Max Mara with her head covered by the hijab. An observant Muslim, Halima paraded and posed without ever removing the veil from her head but after the lockdown, just three years after her world debut, she said goodbye to fashion for religious reasons, stating that mannequin work was in conflict with the faith of she.

Fashion designers have tried to mortgage a sector that has changed, and is changing the contours of the fashion business. On the other hand, the numbers speak for themselves: according to the ‘State of the Global Islamic Economy Report’, it is estimated that the modest fashion market, once a niche sector, reached 295 billion dollars in 2021 while for the ‘entire 2022 the estimate is 313 billion dollars with a + 6% and in 2025 its value should reach 375 billion. Staggering figures for the largest markets for modest fashion, namely Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The big names in fashion are not unbalanced (today there are few luxury brands that sell ‘hijab’, headdress’ or veils) but it is clear that modest fashion continues to encompass a large slice of consumers that Western fashion houses certainly cannot ignore. This is demonstrated by the ‘modest fashion weeks’, the fashion weeks that take place every year around the world, in Dubai, Jakarta but also in the multicultural and cosmopolitan Amsterdam and London. There are also social media to leverage modest fashion: only on Instagram there are 4.7 million posts with the hashtag #modestfashion and #modestfashionblogger (585 thousand posts) while among the influencer stars of ‘modest’ fashion stand out Dina Tokio (1 , 2 million followers) Fatma Hudsam (681,000 followers), and Leen Al Ghouti (over 300,000 followers).

Platforms specialized in modest fashion are also growing: from Aab, the Islamic fashion clothing brand founded in 2007 as a London label and today recognized as a premium brand, to the Turkish Modanisa, which offers a wide range of pret-a-porter clothing, up to to Louella, a brand founded by the Olympic fencing medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American athlete to win an Olympic medal in hijab. Among the artists and designers who have recently dedicated space to Islamic fashion is Ghali, the rapper of Tunisian origins, who last year created a capsule for Benetton, about 45 pieces, in a clash of cultures, from hijabs to sweatshirts, tracksuits with the rapper’s name written in Arabic. “The hijab is a unique piece that I wanted a lot – said Ghali – there was no resistance from the company to include it in the collection”.

The designer Antonio Grimaldi also spoke of “a collection under the sign of inclusiveness” and a “tribute to Middle Eastern culture and women,” who at the beginning of the year showed the Somali-born supermodel Ikram Abdi Omar on the catwalk with the head covered by the hijab. But Muslim Millennials, also referred to as ‘Generation M’, young people who follow the dictates of the Islamic religion, demand more from brands. If a brand does not align with their values, they buy elsewhere. You know. well the designer Nadia Hadhrami, 23, from Rotterdam, who last week presented her first collection during the York fashion week saying she is aware of the difficulties that Muslim women face every day in buying modest fashion clothes in the main streets of the luxury. “I was inspired by Muslim women, who want elegant but simple dresses – said the young designer – without compromising their faith”. Federica Mochi)