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Is modest fashion only for Muslim women?

Modest Fashion can be defined as a style of wearing clothes in a way through which the least amount of skin and body shape is seen. According to Vogue Business, the modest fashion market is a $44 billion business. The Muslim population of the world is around 2 billion, hence the modest fashion market is 22 times more than the Muslim population. So who is following this lifestyle besides Muslims? 

Modest fashion is not a trend but a lifestyle. It began back in the 14th century through the spread of Islam in the Middle East. According to the Islamic ruling, a Muslim is ought to wear loose clothing that does outline their body shape. Hence to adhere to the rules women would wear a piece of clothing known as the abaya. The abaya is still relevant and is worn by millions of Muslim women. 

However, there wasn’t much variety in items of clothing when it came to muslim women besides the basic abayas and montos, which is a shorter version of the abaya. In the 21st century, Muslim women have explored their fashion sense within the boundaries of Islamic rule. The term modest fashion became more popularized through the efforts of young Muslim women who proved that skin-revealing clothes are not the only way. 

“I know some people will think modest fashion is regressive and telling a woman to cover themselves, but I feel like the women it appeals to want to wear stuff that’s fun and doesn’t have to worry about being a sex object for a man,” says Batsheva Hay in an interview with vogue business. 

The entire point of dressing modestly is to free oneself from the male gaze and avoid being sexualised by men. Through social media and the invention of new modest clothing like modest burkinis, corporate attire, athletic wear, etc; women realized that modest fashion is not interchangeable with religion. One does not need to be Muslim or a hijabi to dress modestly. 

Besides ensuring comfort, modest fashion is also a way to take over one’s own body and go against Western misogynistic ways of thinking when it comes to style and fashion. Western media has somehow convinced us that if you are not showing your skin then you aren’t a feminist. Modest fashion debunks the correlation theory that says more skin is more freedom. This has made consumers question the role of fashion when it comes to body freedom and comfort. 

You no longer have to skip beach trips or give up on your fitness because you are afraid of showing a certain portion of your body. Bikinis, gym shorts, trousers, etc have all become extinguished. Modest burkinis, modest athleisure wear, etc that stem from the umbrella of modest fashion have given women more opportunities to step into the world without being afraid of society and become more confident in their bodies. 

To wrap it up, In today’s age, no one can categorize modest fashion as traditional or orthodoxic. You don’t need to be from a certain ethnicity or follow a certain ideology to dress modestly. Indeed, modest attire did originate from Islam— as Muslims are instructed to “lower their gaze and dress modestly” in the Holy Quran— but due to the reach of social media and influencers, consumers and fashion brands have realized that dressing modestly can be modern and stylish. As modest fashion grows and as more people adhere to this lifestyle, we realize what it truly means to dress for comfort and the trend 

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