Last February saw London’s Victoria House, situations in Bloomsbury Square, present London Modest Fashion Week’s spectacularly successful second year. Hosted by Haute Elan, an Innovative Market Place platform, they housed the largest collection of British & international designers under one roof.
Haute Elan is the creation of CEO and Founder, Romanna Bint Abubaker, a champion for Muslim female entrepreneurs, providing the opportunity for the modest fashion industry to be recognized for exploring conscientious fashion.
It is under the umbrella of Haute Elan that modest fashion has seen an explosion of opportunities for Muslim/Modest Designers and Bloggers to showcase and illuminate the trend-savvy pathway for all those who aspire to be the next Hannah Tjiama (Uniqlo Fame), or Dina Tokio (Blogger/YouTube sensation).
Fantastically, modest fashion is fast becoming a fierce global economic competitor. For example, early 2017 saw the launch of The Modist, the Net-A-Porter of Modest Fashion, and in December of 2017, Nike released the Pro-Hijab to the Middle Eastern market.
Thomson Reuter’s Global Islamic Economy Report (2017) reinforces the success of this largely untapped, modest market. They stated that revenue from modest fashion bought by Muslim women was estimated at $44bn in 2015, and that Muslim expenditure has been predicted to grow by $3 trillion in 2021.
The economic triumph of modest fashion has seen an explosion of modest fashion bloggers over the last few years. Success in the modest fashion arena brings with it a diversity of creative influences which has brought about a new trend of social and ethical awareness in prominent bloggers. This new consciousness is paralleled through the myriad of ethnic bloggers active on social media.
Collectively, Dr Fatumina AKA Fatumina Music, Saira Arshad (Shazaira); Annam Ahmad & Zainab Hassan (zainabhassanxo) have ethnic backgrounds and cultural influences that hail from Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Italy, Kuwait, Canada and the U.K. These bloggers are driving the bubble gum image of modest fashion & beauty bloggers onto the level of intellectuals, and academics who contribute towards the ethical narrative of making conscientious choices.
Fatumia Said is a breed apart from the expected fashion/lifestyle bloggers that the industry is used to. As an academic, and lover of fashion, Fatumina is a true role model for the empowerment of young women. Recently graduated with a PHD in Engineering and the study of regenerative heart medicine, Fatumina is an intellectual force to be admired. Her voluntary work as a public speaker and blogger is motivated by a will to empower and, “show women that they can do anything and reach their aspirations.” Fatumina emphasizes that it is our responsibility as Muslims to “push ourselves to the next level,” and be socially aware.
Our league of modest bloggers are not satisfied with just showcasing the latest lipstick. They recognize the need to educate us about how it was made, where it came from, and if it is Halal or eco-friendly.
Zainab Hassan and Annam Ahmad are also incredibly popular on the modest fashion scene. Zainab Hassan’s blog mixes her fashion choices with her British and Nigerian roots. She recognizes the importance of merging cultures to educate and break down prejudice: “London Modest Fashion week is not just for Muslims, it is a part of mainstream fashion and is for everyone. It is a form of self-expression.” Beauty blogger Annam Ahmad reiterates this idea. The underlying message surrounding her blog is strong, communicating that “everyone is on their journey and Islam is a beautiful religion.” For Annam, London Modest Fashion week and modest fashion is a positive influence helping Muslim girls to wear the hijab, to be more comfortable in their skin, and feel accepted by society. “We finally have a place.”
Saira Arshad, a lifestyle blogger, is a phenomenally fearless young Muslim woman with an infectious zest for travel and all things new. Saira recognizes the need for Muslim women (herself included) to self-educate in relation to ethical and charitable consumer-related buying. She is passionate that the disadvantages of ‘fast fashion’ are very much a reality for so many. Saira breaks down the nature of fast fashion to purchases worn “only twice and then donated to Oxfam”, acknowledging that these pieces are being made from the fruits of child labour. She is ashamed that we, as consumers, “still consciously take part” in such purchasing behaviors.
Social, environmental, and ethical awareness is on the increase, but we still have a long way to go. The politics surrounding oppression in the fashion industry is at the forefront of social media. Modest Designers and bloggers are a growing army on this platform, creating a new awareness among the fashion conscious. Our league of modest bloggers are not satisfied with just showcasing the latest lipstick. They recognize the need to educate us about how it was made, where it came from, and if it is Halal or eco-friendly. When discussing where the responsibility of ethical buying and designing lies, Saira Arshad, and those like her, believe that the effort should be divided between the consumer and the brand.
“If brands cared a lot more, and made better choices”, Saira Arshad believes that the consumer would naturally follow. Perhaps it’s about time we start paying attention.