Modest fashion crosses cultures

Modest fashion crosses cultures | Arab News

LONDON: Saudi designers will be in the spotlight next month when the international fashion community gathers in Riyadh for the first Arab Fashion Week ever hosted in the Kingdom.

The Arab Fashion Council, which organizes the event, is welcoming the opportunity to showcase Saudi style and display the diversity of local talent on an international platform.

Among the local looks on show will be modest fashion, a trend that is gaining traction on runways across the world. Last week saw the second edition of London Modest Fashion Week (LMFW), with designers from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia showcasing a huge range of designs.

LMFW founder Romanna bint Abu Baker, who also owns modest fashion boutique Haute Elan, said the trend has quickly gone global “as seen from the breadth of international brands on our runway, from Australia to Germany, Pakistan to the UK.”

“The Muslim population is very diverse and spread across the world,” she explained.

But it is not just Muslims donning demure attire. In recent seasons, international brands from Dolce & Gabbana to Oscar de La Renta have tapped into the modesty trend, releasing collections dominated by full-length gowns, loose trousers, and flowing skirts. Others include DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Monique Lhuillier and high-street brands Zara and Mango.

Last year, UK retailer Marks & Spencer launched a line of burkinis, which quickly sold out, and dedicated modest-wear platforms such as The Modist have sprung up to cater to a growing and culturally diverse consumer base.

A recent state of the economy report by Thomson Reuters indicated one possible reason for the mounting interest in modest wear, which yielded revenues of $44 billion in 2015, with Muslims accounting for a global spend of $243 billion on clothing that year. By 2021, apparel spend from Muslims is projected to reach $368 billion, and international brands are eager to cash in on the purchasing power.

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