The concept of modest fashion emerged in the early 2000s, describing the style preferences of individuals who choose to cover themselves for religious, cultural, or personal reasons. In the past, those seeking modest clothing options often had limited choices, primarily because the market was relatively small. However, recent years have witnessed a surge in spending on modest fashion. According to the 2022 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, spending in this niche increased by 5.7% in 2021, from $279 billion to $295 billion. This growth is fueled by consumers who seek clothing that aligns with their values, providing adequate coverage without compromising style. The Global Islamic Economy Report predicts the industry will reach an estimated $311 billion by 2024.

Appeal Beyond Niche Markets

Modest fashion is no longer confined to niche markets. Renowned brands like Louis Vuitton and Max Mara have introduced curated modest collections during Ramadan and Eid, catering to a culturally and religiously diverse consumer audience.

However, it's important to note that the style is not limited to the religiously inclined; it can also be influenced by cultural upbringing and personal choice. With the growth of modest fashion, those favoring modest attire have a variety of specialized brands and designers to choose from.

Modest Fashion's Global Influence

The largest markets for modest fashion include Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Recognizing the opportunities in the Middle East, fashion brands like Zara and Pull and Bear have expanded their presence and product offerings. These brands may not always create new modest fashion products but prioritize marketing and styling to suit such consumer preferences.

In the Western market, brands like Asos and Shein have made a range of modest wear available to consumers. These collections offer longer cuts, higher necklines, and opaque fabrics, fitting into the category without the need for extra styling or layering.

Modest Activewear: A New Trend

As activewear gains popularity, brands are now offering products designed to cater to modest consumers. In the past, activewear was dominated by crop tops, skin-tight leggings, and shorts for ease of movement. However, brands are now investing in designs that provide more coverage.

For instance, Nike introduced its first hijab in 2017, sparking a conversation about inclusivity in activewear. In 2020, Nike expanded its line to include modest swimwear, featuring core pieces like swim hijabs and swim leggings. Adidas has also collaborated with South African designer Thebe Magugu to create a line that includes modest swimwear, running gear, and loungewear.

Indonesian activewear modest fashion brand, HIA EveryWear

In Indonesia, we see this modest activewear is rising as well. One such is, HIA EveryWear, a relatively new but strong-heeled brand that is dedicated to creating well-designed products for women's comfort and confidence while fostering a sense of community among like-minded individuals. The rise in modest activewear popularity highlights both changing consumer preferences and the industry's recognition of diverse customer needs.

Indonesia's Ascent as the Future Hub for Modest Fashion

Indonesia aims to be the global modest fashion hub by 2024, not just a distant goal. The nation's demographics make it a strong candidate, being the most populous Muslim country. With the growing global Muslim population, Indonesia is at the center of a thriving market for modest fashion.

What's particularly intriguing is the rise of homegrown brands within Indonesia's modest fashion scene. As the industry gains momentum, it's not just major international retailers like H&M, Uniqlo, and COTTONINK that have taken notice. Local modest fashion brands have also become their own, making their presence felt. Brands like Buttonscarves, Heaven Lights, and This is Bendina are enjoying their own loyal troops of customers. Furthermore, the fashion landscape is evolving with the emergence of Indonesian fashion shows that specifically celebrate modest fashion, such as the Jakarta Muslim Fashion Week (JMFW). This yearly event featured a wide range of local modest fashion brands, potentially totaling $20.1 million in transactions.

Heaven Lights at Indonesian modest fashion runway, JMFW 2024

Indonesia's path to a global modest fashion hub is driven by local designers and brands, not just international giants. These factors, supported by the Indonesian government, bode well for the nation's future in the modest fashion.

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In today's world, fashion goes beyond clothing; it's a language and also a powerful tool. Fashion influence in addressing critical issues. As our collective focus shifts towards societal, environmental, and cultural concerns, fashion becomes a vital medium for change and awareness. Let's explore how fashion empowers individuals and communities to voice concerns and drive positive global change.

Fashion Influence Politics: Statements Through Attire

Throughout history, clothing has certainly been a canvas for political expression. From suffragettes in white for women's voting rights to protesters donning red as a symbol of resistance, fashion visually represents political ideologies.

Members of the Black Panthers line up at a rally at DeFremery Park in Oakland, Calif.

One compelling case study is the Black Panther Party, a pivotal civil rights organization active in the 1960s and 1970s. The party strategically used clothing as a powerful political statement, with members often wearing distinct attire: black berets, leather jackets, and black sunglasses. These uniforms symbolized unity, resistance against racial injustice, and subsequently, empowerment. Moreover, it conveyed a powerful message of solidarity among its members and their unwavering commitment to challenging systemic racism and inequality in the United States.

Fashion Influence Inclusivity: The Change on the Runway

Historically, fashion runways have faced criticism for their lack of diversity in terms of race, body size, and gender representation. However, the industry is gradually evolving. Many designers are now actively celebrating diversity by featuring models from diverse backgrounds, body types, and gender identities. Additionally, the shift promotes inclusivity and challenges conventional beauty standards, sending a resounding message that fashion should be accessible to all, irrespective of their appearance or identity.

Take, for instance, Rihanna's lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty. Since its inaugural fashion show in 2018, the brand has garnered acclaim for its unwavering commitment to inclusivity on the runway. It features models of various ethnicities, sizes, and gender identities, celebrating diversity in a manner that pushes the boundaries, especially the conventional beauty standards. Savage x Fenty communicates that beauty knows no bounds and emphasizes that fashion should be an arena where everyone feels recognized and empowered.

Fashion Influences Ethical Consumption

Modern consumers are increasingly making mindful choices about their attire. Eventually, the rise of ethical and slow fashion encourages individuals to contemplate the consequences of their purchases on workers, the environment, and society. By patronizing brands that prioritize fair wages, safe working conditions, and sustainable materials, consumers actively endorse their principles and convey a clear message: the fashion industry must prioritize transparency and accountability.

A notable brand case study that champions ethical consumption is Patagonia. In 2011, Patagonia initiated a thought-provoking campaign titled "Don't Buy This Jacket." Instead of promoting mindless consumerism, the campaign urged consumers to reflect upon the environmental footprint of their purchases and buy only what they genuinely needed. This audacious move underscored Patagonia's commitment to ethical consumption and environmental responsibility. It served as an inspiration to other brands and consumers, motivating them to reevaluate their buying habits and opt for quality and longevity over disposable fashion.

The Influence of Celebrity Activism

Celebrities wield immense influence in the fashion world. Accordingly, many celebrities are leveraging their platforms to advocate for social and political causes. A prime example is Emma Watson, renowned for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. She has emerged as a prominent advocate for sustainable fashion, spearheading the "Green Carpet Challenge" in partnership with Eco-Age, a sustainable fashion consultancy.

Through this initiative, Watson has donned eco-friendly and ethically produced clothing at prestigious events like the Met Gala. Her choices have garnered significant media attention, shedding light on the importance of sustainable fashion within the industry. Watson's unwavering dedication to ethical and sustainable fashion has left an indelible mark, influencing both designers and consumers alike. Her example underscores the influential role celebrities can play in championing responsible fashion choices and advocating for positive change within the industry. This intersection of fashion and celebrity activism magnifies the impact of advocacy efforts.

Fashion is an ever-evolving medium that reflects our society's values, concerns, and aspirations. Its capacity to convey complex issues and inspire change underscores its immense power. Whether through sustainable choices, political statements, cultural appreciation, or inclusive representation, fashion remains a formidable tool for addressing pressing issues. By harnessing this power, individuals can make a meaningful difference and contribute to a more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive world, one outfit at a time.

Stay in the know with the latest developments in textiles, apparel, and all things fashion-related by following us on Instagram, or using our resource here.

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