Opinion | Modest fashion is not a trend

Two+mannequins+sport+modest+tie-dye+clothing+at+the+de+Young+Museum+in+San+Francisco%2C+California.

Photo Courtesy of Torba Hopper

Two mannequins sport modest tie-dye clothing at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, California.

By Neshmia Malik, Columnist

Modesty means something different to everyone. But to me, it means dressing in a way that avoids sexual appeal and self-objectification — not displaying myself as an object, but projecting myself as someone with a personality, with much more to offer than my body. Modesty has always been something that I upheld because of my religious values. And yet, I have often had difficulties adhering to the idea of it. 

Growing up, modesty and fashion seemed to be incompatible in my eyes. The TV stars and singers who I grew up admiring were troublesome for me to look up to because they didn’t dress like me. As the years have gone by, more people have grasped the idea of modest dressing as a fashion statement, and I am pleased to find more people talking about it and interested in following it. 

Yusra Siddiqui, a hijabi-Muslim woman and an editorial intern with the fashion magazine Who What Wear, has spoken out about how this brand has catered to people like her and me. In an article she wrote for the magazine, Siddiqui discussed certain fashion pieces that appeal to women who prefer modest clothing or Muslim women wearing the hijab, a religious veil that upholds modesty in the presence of men.

It is truly refreshing to see not only more women uplifting the idea of fashion with a conservative twist, but more women who look like me working with and representing well-regarded fashion magazines that stand for what is coming next in trends. 

The idea of modest fashion is a phenomenon that people are starting to appreciate, and not just in the winter time. Who What Wear has dedicated a whole article to just that: Modest summer fashion, and big brands like Mango, DKNY and H&M have hopped on the bandwagon to roll out the trendiest looks this upcoming season. 

Modest fashion is also attracting a large following online. Pinterest searches for the term were up by 500% in the UK since the beginning of 2018. 

As I mentioned earlier, this is tremendous progress on the road to expanding brand markets to cater to women who prefer to dress modestly. At the same time, there are still some underlying motives that may be prevalent in the market today.

How many brands aspire to truly showcase the beauty of modesty within the fashion industry, and how many have the desire to simply exploit these styles for profit? Surely many companies observe high-end brands in the Middle East advertising expensive, modest clothing and are eager to do the same. They don’t intend to promote modest attire, but to profit from it. Instead of marketing these styles as a new trend, companies should advertise them with the understanding that this is a real part of everyday life for many people. Instead, they are using these styles as a ploy to exoticize an entire way of life. This centuries-old attire is not the new spring line. 

As much as I am proud of the recognition we’ve gotten for our choice of lifestyle and clothing, brands should reconsider using my way of life as a quick way to make money and actually use it to showcase inclusivity and promote a unique way of dressing.

Neshmia is a sophomore in Media. 

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