Less about covering up, more about breakthroughs

modest fashion 4

The current #hottopics in fashion –diversity and inclusivity– have rightfully revealed the modest dressing phenomenon and along with it the lucrative opportunities.

With hijab models like Halima Aden being the first to wear a hijab on an international catwalk and global brands like Nike announcing a drop of sports hijabs stereotypes are being challenged, beauty standards redefined and one senses a shift in attitude within the fashion industry.

The South African modest dressing scene is still growing but its presence is undeniable driven in part by the success of Instagram fashion stars thanks to a little help from Instagram local fashion darlings like Nabilah Kariem and Thameenah Saint.

“I feel that modest dressing is more than just a trend; it’s more about individuality and practicality, which is taking over the fashion industry and designers are giving us what we want” says Saint, who has previously walked the runway for one of her favourite local designers, Gert Johan-Coetzee.

A global community of woman around the world coming together around modest dressing in a form of sisterhood debunks dated notions of how ‘fashionable’ women should be viewed.

As this previously shielded part of the fashion industry grows and as quickly as technology innovates, ecommerce platforms begin to give way to normalising this style of dressing by providing consumers with the best luxury designer brands.

Ghizlan Guenez, is a fashion entrepreneur and founder of luxury online store The Modist, which according to Business of Fashion is ‘the first global e- commerce platform offering luxury fashion to women who prefer to dress modestly, (and) deemed the Net-a-Porter of modest clothing.’

“There are misconceptions about what modesty is… we are saying that modesty can be so many different things, can be coveted by so many different women, and that it can be cool and beautiful and elegant and everything a woman wants.”

It offers the best in international luxury from Chloe to Mary Katranzou, who designed an exclusive collection for the store.


Local designer Tasleem Bulbulia who perfectly merges modest and high fashion keeps her brand alive by focusing on her customers, who “are fashion forward and have the spending power”. With a career that spans over 20 years, she is taking notice of the global shift in fashion to include modest looks into the mainstream industry. “I think the misunderstanding surrounding what modest fashion means is what alienates outsiders… I think it’s only since ‘modest’ became the buzzword that people sat up and took notice.”

Sparking enough interest even amongst veteran designers ‘modest fashion’ has become more than a buzzword.

“Inclusivity is so important for any brand and I think that modest fashion has now made its mark on the international fashion map,” says Saint.

As we move forward to into global spaces where diversity matters, modest fashion becomes less about covering up and more about breakthroughs.



Written by Sithasolwazi Kentane

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