Modest fashion is mostly concealing rather than accentuating the shape of the body, and refers to individuals (specifically women) who dress in a manner that satisfies their stylistic necessities for personal and/or religious preference. In addition, there are many feminist responses to modesty promoting it as an empowering style. While from an outsider’s perspective modest women may be unexplored consumers, the growing number of women who prefer to dress more covered resulted in greater recognition of the modest fashion sector, becoming one of the largest markets in the global fashion industry. This popularity has not gone unnoticed by the mainstream fashion industry, and many international mainstream fashion brands also jumped on the bandwagon by launching modest fashion campaigns – showing that the mainstream fashion industry has entered the world of modest fashion, whilst simultaneously modest fashion has stepped into the world of mainstream fashion. Since modest fashion encompasses many elements and is still seen by many as a paradoxical phenomenon (e.g. connecting it to patriarchy and oppression of Muslim women), this study aimed to shed light on the perceptions of the modest fashion market, specifically in mainstream fashion campaigns and the media, to dispel the paradoxical interpretations. The inquiry was based on fashion and personal choices rather than solely religious choices for dressing modestly, and therefore the feminist consumerism strategy (Taylor et al., 2016) was used as a theoretical lens in this study – to discover whether mainstream modest fashion campaigns are seen as compatible with modest fashion supporter’s vision of modest fashion. The study was guided by the research question: How do modest fashion supporters perceive the representation of modest fashion in mainstream fashion campaigns and the media? A thematic analysis of twelve in-depth interviews with modest fashion supporters resulted in fourteen main themes that were divided into four main categories. The results conclude that both the mainstream and digital media are indispensable to the modest fashion sector and that the modest fashion supporters, albeit remaining critical, generally have a positive stance towards modest fashion campaigns by mainstream fashion brands. Nevertheless, both the mainstream media and fashion industry generally ignore the true essence of what modest fashion stands for and a need for more understanding is required. Furthermore, this research showed that the themes of sustainability and diversity/inclusivity in fashion are closely related to the industry and fit in with the conscious mindset behind modest fashion.

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Evolvi, G.
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Smallenbroek, Charlotte. (2021, November). The World of Modest Fashion A qualitative study on the perceptions of the representation of modest fashion in mainstream fashion campaigns and the media.. Media & Business. Retrieved from