As part of our webinar series, Dialogues on the Art of Arab Fashion, our guest, founder and chairperson of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), Alia Khan talked to Dr Reem el Mutwalli about the Modest Fashion industry. According to Alia, there is no single definition of what Modest Fashion is. Different variations exist around the world based on local custom, culture, religion, and traditions. Yet they are all interesting and beautiful.

Alia Khan

Alia Khan, founder and chairperson of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council

Alia Khan & IFDC

Alia was born and raised in the US and Canada where she started her fashion career with her own designs producing shows, events, and media programs. This led to her setting up a media and marketing company in Los Angeles winning high profile clients and international projects.

In 2005 she relocated to Dubai where she eventually founded the IFDC in 2014. Established for the development of the Islamic fashion and design industry worldwide, the IFDC aims to be the world’s leading fashion and design (art, architecture, interiors, etc.) organisation representing the Islamic economy and its stakeholders.

Alia’s other focus is philanthropy. Her charity provides solutions to upgrade education systems and eradicate malnutrition with an effective food program. Along the way, Alia is discovering great artistic and design talent that she promotes and supports through IFDC.

Fashion is a soft way to make strong statements

Modest Fashion Week Dubai

Modest Fashion Week Dubai catwalk

What is Modest Fashion?

Modest Fashion is a holistic concept that stretches beyond mere fashion. According to Alia the Modest Fashion consumer is committed to a higher value system and follow faith-based parameters and guidelines when making life decisions and choices. Although many women wear the Hijab it is a personal choice and not a prerequisite for Modest Fashion. “Modesty is the way we live, not the way we dress.”

Halima Aden Modest fashion

Modest fashion model Halima Aden

Who wears Modest Fashion?

Contrary to what many people believe, women who choose to wear Modest Fashion are critical thinkers making their own choices based on their value system, and not followers or oppressed women. The typical modest fashion consumer is younger, educated and professional with her own disposable income. This growing market has a growing buying power that is demanding the attention of the global fashion and design industry.

Modest Fashion is a lifestyle, not an outfit

Cover Magazine

Cover Magazine published by the IFDC

The role of the IFDC

The role of the IFDC is to support the industry who caters to the Modest Fashion market by providing education, business support, and industry guidelines to the fashion and retail sectors, (Pret-A-Cover™), by hosting events and conducting research, by managing a range of media platforms, and by facilitating training and development programs. “The IFDC does not promote a lifestyle, that is an individual choice and must come from a conviction. The IFDC supports the industry that caters to this lifestyle and market.”

Alia Khan

Alia Khan

The future of Modest Fashion

The market is growing, with more and more mainstream design houses coming on board and many high street retail outlets catering to this market. With a growing buying power and consumers who are confident in expressing their needs, designers and industry players have to respond positively.

Something that is built on a sound ideology cannot be killed

Mariah Idrissi Modest Fashion model

Modest fashion model Mariah Idrissi

The Zay Initiative’s role in Modest Fashion

According to Alia, The Zay Initiative plays an important role in preserving the values, culture, and lifestyle on which Modest Fashion is based. The success of the IFDC confirms the importance of the work we do here at The Zay. “When something is built on a sound ideology it cannot be killed.”

According to Dr Reem, the custom in the Gulf region to adapt traditional clothes to modern times instead of relegating it to the costume cupboard or the museum reinforces the work the IFDC do. “Women still want to dress modestly but they want to do it in a way that allows them to sit at the boardroom table.”

The IFDC is championing the course of Modest Fashion, making sure the industry learning-curve happens and that consumer demands are met. To ensure you stay in the loop, sign up to our mailing list. That way you will always be part of this conversation. More information on upcoming events can be found here.