A sleeping giant just a few years ago, the global modest-fashion industry is now a movement that is quickly gaining international momentum.
From the first-ever Modest Fashion Week in London just a few weeks ago to the announcement of a new partnership between Aab and Debenhams to sell hijabs—one of the first deals of its kind featuring a mainstream retailer—there is clear evidence of its rising popularity in the West and beyond.
As the trend becomes more popular with Muslims and non-Muslims alike, there is ample opportunity for it to become more open and creative, particularly when it comes to garments like the hijab.
While common hijabs in most countries are basic in terms of their design, with just one colour and a lack of patterns, this year has seen the emergence of groundbreaking hijab creations throughout the various modest-fashion events.
The Malaysian Fashion Week in particular showcased a range of artistically daring modest ensembles that went far beyond the idea of the hijab as a symbol of privacy, crossing over into art.
According to Melanie Elturk, CEO of Haute Hijab and one of the driving forces behind the modest-fashion movement in the US, there are four hijab trends that are set to take 2017 by storm.
1. PRINT DESIGN
“Right now, we're really following the mainstream trends, which are tonnes of bold stripes, polka dots and geometric shapes coming into our hijabs,” said Elturk of the trends that she has witnessed in North America.
“In the US, that's what's really driving the market right now.” While single-colour, featureless hijabs can be reminiscent of sophistication and professionalism, printed patterns can be seen as more empowering and outlandish, especially when accompanied with a matching abaya, she observed.
2. LOSING THE ABAYA
As more women experiment with modest-fashion choices, some are finding alternatives to traditional Muslim dress. “Women are starting to move away from the traditional all-black into different colours as well as removing the abaya altogether [and instead] wearing a more modest outfit, but in a few different pieces,” Elturk said.
The modern Muslim woman can be both faith-dedicated and fashion conscious in the 21st century, meaning that on some occasions, the abaya isn't entirely necessary to achieve a modest outfit. Breathable long-sleeved tops, jumpers and long skirts are popular alternatives.
3. EMBEDDED JEWELLERY
With the increased focus on the modest-fashion market, brands outside the clothing industry have taken note and have contributed their ideas as well.
“In the US, we're doing a beautiful line of hijabs where we're incorporating Swarovski and incorporating all these other beautiful elements that we haven't seen before because it's all so new,” Elturk added.
One of the main fashion accessories lines that Swarovski has produced in recent times is the hijab pin, which boasts magnificent stones and crystals.
4. BRIGHT COLOURS
As the summer months approach, brighter colours will be more prominent in most clothing, and the same applies to hijabs, despite being a new idea in some Western nations.
“In the UK market, the colours are kind of drab, which is indicative of their environment,” Elturk explained.
“The US is actually very colourful.” Although black is very traditional, stylish and is likely to be the default colour in most outfits, more vibrancy is expected over the warmer months.