Fashion Reader: Muslim Fashion

The Fashion Reader is a series where I explore the books that have influenced, inspired and intrigued me. I share stories about writers who have provided that creative spark, those who have shaped my beliefs and those who have simply been a pleasure to read. With some, the link to fashion will be obvious, with others, the relevance to women in fashion might be more subtle. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading…

I am looking forward to celebrating the launch of Professor Reina Lewis’ new book Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures tonight.

Modest fashion is one of the most interesting developments in our industry.  Despite being underserved by traditional fashion chains, the Muslim population is the fastest growing in the world, with nearly 800 million Muslims younger than 25. This is surely a hugely significant opportunity for designers and businesses.

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Whilst a large majority of Western fashion chains have in recent times tended to focus on “sexy”, provocative designs, young religious women, such as Melanie Elturk of Haute Hijab and Chandler Roberson of Days of Chandler, have taken to the internet to voice their frustration at their limited options and share tips for styling their wardrobes.

This has led to a real growth in the popularity and visibility of modest fashion – not just amongst the religious either. I have seen an increase in the number of people choosing a more conservative outfit – one-piece swimsuits, high-waisted trousers, loose dresses.

More women are dressing intelligently, where ‘revealing’ styles have been replaced by more classic, understated designs. Not just in older women either, but those in their 20s too.

Considering this growing recognition of modest fashion, I think the launch of Reina’s book is very timely. She provides insights into the ways young Muslim women use fashion to negotiate religion and identity, through talking to some of the most influential designers, bloggers, shoppers and retailers. And, in doing so, she shines a spotlight on what will surely come to be recognised as a pivotal part of the fashion industry.

To discuss  the present and future of modest dressing, Reina will be joined tonight by a panel of fashion industry insiders, including Shelina Janmohamed, author of ‘Love in a Headscarf’; Marilyn Booth, Professor of the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at Oxford University; and Samia Khan and Adviya Khan, founders of modest style and lifestyle blog ‘Hijablicious’.

Reina’s book is published by Duke University Press.

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