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Brief Published: 11 Aug 2021

Fashion’s Modest Moment

Nordstrom x Henna & Hijabs

Valued globally at $277bn – a number that is expected to grow to $311bn by 2024 (State of the Global Islamic Economy, 2020) – the modest fashion industry holds a wealth of largely untapped potential for brands, with commercial opportunities both for and beyond the Muslim consumer.

This year’s annual economic summit in the Russian city of Kazan made modest fashion one of its key priorities. The summit, which aims to foster Russian-Islamic relationships, launched Modest Fashion Day which, through a mix of runway showcases and panel discussions, highlighted the need to develop Russia’s modest fashion landscape and to further support emerging design talent. 

In the UK, 86% of Muslims feel that they are ignored by fashion brands (ODD, 2019), but change is coming. US retailer Nordstrom has just launched a hijab line with brand Henna & Hijabs, and modest fashion weeks are thriving everywhere from Atlanta, Georgia to the Philippines and Ghana. And with a new wave of streetwear-loving, fashion-conscious modest influencers gaining popularity online (see US-based Noor Elkhaldi and Maria Alia, and Canada’s Hodan Yousuf), brands need to prioritise modest silhouettes and layering pieces in fun, youthful prints and colours that still allow for experimentation and expression.

Hodan Yousuf
Maria Alia
Noor Elkhaldi

Elsewhere, modest fashion is having a moment in sport. Norway’s female volleyball team were fined for playing in shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms at the Euro 2021 tournament in Bulgaria, while Germany’s Olympic gymnastics team performed in full-body unitards instead of the more revealing, traditionally worn leotards. Nike has made a start by releasing its first active hijab in 2017, which was followed by the victory swimsuit in 2019, but modest sportswear remains a largely untapped yet increasingly lucrative market.

German gymnastic team
Norwegian volleyball team