A Modest Proposal

A trend emerging in the fashion-licensing sector involves collaborations focused on hip-but-modest clothing designs, with religious beliefs often serving as the impetus for the ventures:

• Hana Tajima is one of the most prominent of a small group of designers creating clothing for Muslim women. Her latest collection for retailer Uniqlo includes modest dresses, separates, and other items meant to appeal to all women, as well as Muslim-specific items such as hijabs. The mix has moved more toward the mainstream end of the spectrum over the collaboration’s six seasons to date.

• In keeping with her own dressing habits and Orthodox Jewish beliefs, designer Joyce Azria created a modest collection for WUKOgals, which she acquired in 2018. Three sisters, also of the Orthodox Jewish faith, founded the WUKOgals label, which focuses on clothes that cover women’s knees, elbows, and collarbones. Items in Azria’s range include bohemian dresses and vegan leather jackets. Azria also owns and designs for two mainstream labels, Rohb (sold through Amazon) and Avec Les Filles.

• Halima Aden, a model and the first person to wear a hijab in a state Miss USA pageant and in publications such as British Vogue and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, has a collection of shawls and turbans with the e-commerce site Modanisa, which specializes in modest clothing. Aden is also one of the faces of Fenty Beauty and American Eagle.

• Sadie Robertson, who gained fame as one of the family members on Duck Dynasty, first got into the modest clothing space, in keeping with her conservative Christian faith, back in 2013 when she was 16. Her prom dresses with Sherri Hill represented an early collaboration centered on modest dress. The Sadie Robertson Live Original brand, founded then, is still ongoing through collaborations with the likes of 31 Bits, which offers a capsule of tops. Robertson has also paired with ROMA for boots and Wild Blue for denim sold through Rue 21.

Collaborations involving apparel specifically for Muslim women began coming on the scene about three years ago. The current initiatives are different, in that most are not exclusive to women of a particular religion, although certainly those shoppers will have a special affinity for the products. They are meant to be welcoming to any consumer, religious or not, who prefers to wear modest clothing such as loose-fitting slacks, tunics, long-sleeved and high-collared tops, and non-form-fitting dresses.

Initiatives such as those noted here are also part of a broader trend in the fashion industry in general. Actress Mayim Bialik, who is of the Modern Orthodox Jewish faith and known for her work on The Big Bang Theory, recently raised the profile of the category by promoting the modest clothing brand Kosher Casual. And British e-tailer ASOS launched a modest fashion line earlier this year, encompassing items such as tops, slacks, and dresses, as well as Muslim-specific pieces such as burqas, hijabs, and abayas. It joins other retailers, including H&M, that have introduced similar initiatives.

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