The New “Net-A-Porter” of Modest Fashion Clothing

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By: LIANA SATENSTEIN, Vogue

Modest clothing—often, but not always, worn for reasons of faith—has lately become a focal point within the fashion industry. Dolce & Gabbana launched its own line of hijabs and abayas last year; hijab-wearing model Halima Aden, a Somalian refugee, walked the runways of New York and Milan this past January; and Orthodox Jewish, Brooklyn-based labels such as Mimu Maxi and The Frock NYC have long been catering to a long-sleeved, maxi dress–donning clientele.

Perhaps the best example of how chic modest clothing has become is The Modist(pronounced mode-ist), an e-commerce site deemed the Net-a-Porter of modest clothing, which launched this March. While other modesty-oriented sites (such as Shukr), which offers a bevy of jilbab options and kufis) tend to center around religious garb, The Modist is nondenominational and has become a hub for elevated versions of past-the-knee skirts and long-sleeved tops. Its roster of designers includes familiar names like Marni, Ellery, and Christopher Kane. More often than not, the company has designers alter certain pieces, such as elongating a skirt, to cater to its clients. The site has drawn social media influencers like Saufeeya Goodson and Maria Ali, who promote their own double tap–worthy incarnations of modest fashion on their Instagram accounts. The site’s editorial page, The Mod, currently has a feature on street style star and editor Caroline Issa, who poses covered in a sculptural-sleeved Solace London dress. In the interview, she notes how her version of modesty can be seen through her love of three-piece suits.

The Modist is the brainchild of Ghizlan Guenez, who worked in finance for 15 years while splitting her time between London and Dubai. For her, shopping for modest clothing was a challenge, even in Islamic Dubai. “Yes, retailers cater to the expatriates and the people who are in the UAE who dress modestly, but mostly to the tourists who come from Russia and Europe,” she says. “So it actually is similar to shopping in London and Europe.” Now thanks to her site, modesty-oriented customers worldwide have a one-stop shop for luxury fashion. Here, Guenez shares her insights on how to be both covered up and chic.

Stay true to your style—no matter the occasion.
I feel that I have the flexibility and the liberty to dress the way I want to dress, and I wouldn’t change that to meet an investor. I think it is important that the investor actually sees me as one of the clients and one of the women to whom I speak.

Have fun with the details.
When I worked in finance, I used to squeeze myself into a place from a fashion perspective that was slightly more conservative. It wasn’t conservative in the financial sense, but I would never wear that dark suit head to toe with a white shirt. I’d wear things that were classic but not necessarily funky, I’d experiment with colors and accessories, I’d add a colorful shoe, and so on.

Experiment with different moods.
I like classic looks and I like a twist, such as a bold pattern and a color. I can look superclean in a white suit, and the next day you might find me in a Mary Katrantzou bold print.

There are misconceptions about what modesty is.
I think that when you speak to modesty, sometimes there are certain perceptions that modesty is this certain religion, this certain region, a particular age and particular look. We want to change those perceptions. We are saying that modesty can be so many different things, can be coveted by so many different women, and that it can be cool and beautiful and elegant and everything a woman wants.

I think that people generally associate modesty with a boring look, an older look, and a dowdy look. When I was pitching to brands in June of last year, we started talking about the concept and the idea. The moment you show them visuals, the first reaction is, “But that’s so pretty,” and I’m like, “That is modesty!” Sometimes, they’ll say, “Are you selling the abayas?”—the black robe that is worn in the Gulf region. We are trying to say that [that exists], but this [The Modist] also exists.

Experiment until you find your look.
When you’re about 17 or 18, that is your time to experiment and try everything, because that is what you are going to be laughing about in your 30s. Then you get to your late 20s and you start really understanding what works for you, and there is a different level of confidence that sort of comes in as you become older. You don’t feel that you need to follow particular trends or try too hard.

Once I understood what worked for me, I stuck to that. I’ve just become very comfortable and confident with it. You have to relax about following anything and be authentic to you. What’s your innate style? I think once you find what works for you, it will come super naturally. If you look at some women, they have a funky or grandma-cool or boyish look. I love it on them and I think it looks great on them, but I know it works on them because it is their style.

Originally from: http://www.vogue.com/article/modist-founder-ghizlan-guenez-interview-personal-style-modest-fashion

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2 thoughts on “The New “Net-A-Porter” of Modest Fashion Clothing

  1. The Modist has some very nice clothes, but I saw few plus-sized options. XXL, the largest size on the Modist website, apparently ends at US size 16. I suspect that there are more than a few plus-sized women who want to buy high-end modest clothes.

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