The brand-new ecommerce shop, which carries Peter Pilotto, Christopher Kane and more, is the first luxury site of its kind.
The Dubai and London-based e-commerce shop went live this morning, making history as the first “global online retail destination for modest fashion,” according to its release. While the shop stocks labels not uncommon to its luxury market competitors like Net-a-Porter and Farfetch, including Alberta Ferretti, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou, the emphasis on modest pieces means that The Modist is a one-stop shop for consumers looking to stay covered up for religious or purely aesthetic reasons.
“Our mission is to build a strong sense of purpose to empower a woman’s freedom of choice and to acknowledge how similar women across the world are — despite our diverse backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles — a relevant conversation at this time,” said The Modist's founder Ghizlan Guenez in a release. “We aim to break down pre-conceived notions while building a community and dialogue that invigorates, informs and celebrates the fashionable, modern, modest woman.”
While the clothes are similar to what you would find at other luxury retailers, the editorial content is different on The Mod, the site's response to Net-a-Porter's Porter.
“Fashion's new gaze” is the tagline of The Mod, which aims to “bring you awe-inspiring modest fashion as well as an intimate glimpse into the lives, wardrobes and worlds of the women who are making a difference across the globe,” according to the site's welcome letter. “Through The Modist and The Mod we are creating a home for women of all ages, cultures and faiths to shift the focus, now more than ever, firmly on the female gaze.”
Catering to Muslim women has been a retail trend for several seasons now, especially as the spending power of Muslims continues to grow. According to the 2015/2016 Global Islamic Economy report, Muslims spent more than $230 billion on apparel, with that number expected to grow to $327 billion by 2020. Islam is also the fastest-growing religion in the world, according to a Pew Research report from 2016.
But while the wealth is there, the struggle to find modest fashions is real. Just last month at the Oscars, Hala Khamil, a Syrian refugee and star of the nominated short documentary, Watani: My Homeland, had a bit of a fashion crisis while seeking a modest red-carpet dress. (She was eventually dressed by designer Brandon Maxwell in a custom purple ensemble.)
Slowly, the fashion and beauty industries have been reacting to the demographic trend, perhaps most notably by hiring Muslim women to be representatives of their brands. In November, cosmetics giant CoverGirl tapped beauty vlogger Nura Afia as a spokesperson, and modeling agency IMG signed Halima Aden to its roster (which also includes Gigi Hadid and Gisele). Both Afia and Aden wear hijabs daily. Aden has already appeared on the runways for Alberta Ferretti and Kanye West, and nabbed the cover of Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion Book. Additionally, Dolce & Gabbana released a line of hijabs last year, and just a few days ago, Nike revealed plans for a sports performance hijab.
Head coverings in various styles also appeared on the runways this past fashion month, from Rick Owen's (rather unwearable, but statement-making nonetheless) headdresses to Delpozo's swim cap-like coverings. And while yes, some designers dared to free the nipple, there were plenty of high-neck options as well.
Fashion houses like Chanel have already taken their own in-house measures to cater to the modest consumer, especially in Los Angeles, which sees an influx of Middle Eastern tourists during the summer months after Ramadan. In 2016, the fashion house outfitted the mannequins in its Rodeo Drive boutique in head scarves.
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