Fast fashion brands have gained immense popularity for their affordability and trendy offerings. However, the environmental repercussions of the fast fashion industry are becoming increasingly evident. Clothes from such brands, often deemed expendable due to their low price tag and below-standard quality, contribute to the perception.

The Fast Fashion Phenomenon

The rapid production of inexpensive clothing that mimics the latest runway trends characterizes fast fashion. The number of leading retailers has provided consumers with affordable and trendy options. "Fast fashion" was coined in the 1990s by Zara, aiming to produce in-store garments within 15 days, setting an industry standard.

The rapid cycle of designing, manufacturing, and distributing these pieces enables retailers to offer a diverse range of products through mass production. Hence, its appeal to retail consumers: it’s fast, it’s cheaper, and it’s trendy. The "lead time," indicating supply chain efficiency, varies among brands, with some delivering new garments in as little as two weeks. Shorter lead times contribute to increased waste in the industry.

The Fashion Pollution

The Quantis International 2018 report identified key contributors to the fashion industry's pollution: dyeing and finishing (36%), yarn preparation (28%), and fiber production (15%). Notably, fiber production, particularly in cotton cultivation, significantly impacts freshwater withdrawal and ecosystem quality.
Dyeing, finishing, yarn preparation, and fiber production, reliant on fossil fuel energy, exert the greatest impact on resource depletion. According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, emissions from textile manufacturing alone are projected to increase by 60% by 2030.

The Sustainable Solution

Investing in slow fashion and resisting every new trend eases the contribution to the effects of fast fashion in a rapidly evolving world. Trends come and go, and more often than not, they are more like fads. Some trends usually last about a year, or a season, but some won’t even last a month.

The influence of social media on the industry has accelerated the pace of trend turnover significantly. However, it is also evolving into a conscious decision-making process, emphasizing the importance of responsible choices for a sustainable future.

Brand owners are crucial in shaping the fashion industry and can mitigate negative impacts by adopting sustainable practices. This includes utilizing alternative materials, prioritizing eco-friendly options, and designing products for durability and recyclability. By incorporating these principles, brands contribute to a more environmentally conscious and responsible landscape.

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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.

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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