When I first started writing about modest fashion, I would rotate between shops, four years later, it's quite overwhelming picking out a few brands to recommend! If you are new to this side of fashion and style or just browsing to see what the commotion is all about, let's just say, we got our own world going-on! At times it collides with main stream fashion and at times, it agrees--like this season's 70's modest style trends. But, hang in there because you will get inspired and meet some awesome brands, if you haven't yet, to shop from. The modest fashion community around the world is certainly having its moment(one which we're fully enjoying!) and has opened a level of creativity among what would be now traditional modest style clothing within religious communities--love it! Actualized creativity is a gift ability that can only be given by our Creator and I really like that both designers and buyers are embracing it!
Four years ago, Facebook(groups), Etsy and email were a very virtual common place to sell, buy and trade modest clothing(it sort of still is). I still recall asking brands to have a website in order for us to feature them; some comply and others stuck their ways. Let's also not discount other common ways of selling and buying before pop-ups and social media become popular; at people's home and conferences. These are still common and probably a way that gives a business continuous income. A way that will live along the use of websites until stores like Macy's, Nordstrom, Saks 5th, Target, Kohls make a space for the modest style community and their clothing needs. Something, I predict will happen soon! The number of practicing Jewish, Christian and Muslim among other beliefs members who wear modest clothing are not going anywhere anytime soon, except grow and less now that we are starting to explore our creativity within our communities. So, it is just a matter of time and a smart executive to make a decision to carry a local brand to the major stage. The murmuring is already starting--look at the recent Mango's Ramadan collection, Uniqlo's collaboration with Yuna, DKNY in the Middle-East, Tommy Hilfiger's limited-edition Ramadan Collection, curated Moda O'perandi Ramadan caftan collection for the Middle-East, Net-a-Porter's Ramadan Edit. So, as my favorite Spanish saying goes: when the rivers sounds, it's because it carries something! We shall see.
Business wise, at the moment we can't tell what modest style clothing brand is leading, perhaps it's one not even listed here, because to find that out, brands would have to open their financials and reveal how much they are actually making. Something I am sure they would not be keen on doing unless they go public in the stock exchange. Popularity, media features and number of followers doesn't always mean customers and that brands are banking, only hard net income numbers do! I have seen modest clothing businesses invest so much money, pay modest fashion bloggers over-inflated amounts of money, have tons of followers, featured in top level media only to close shop a year later. I could get into why this has happened, but will save it for another day. It helps without a doubt, but in the life of social media, which is so short, it is hard work to stay alive and convert fans into customers! Brands must do a combination of things to survive(sometimes it includes silly dances), at least at the moment. So, in the meantime, what we can tell in the form of actions is which modest style brands are taking their businesses to the next level and somehow measure their success by those actions--actions that require investment; dinero, mula, money! Which can only come from making money, we hope!
For geographical reasons and mercy to my typing fingers, we are focusing on a pair out of hundreds of modest style shops from the US, UK and Canada. Keep in mind, there are a number of brands who have been in the modest fashion business game for over 15 years and others who are fairly new and are quickly stepping-up their business game to catch-up with their competition! Pushing-up a business is also not bound only to the actions from the below businesses, but smaller steps like launching a website, improving photography, hiring an assistant, switching to better fabric, hiring a public relations person and so on count too! These improvements that categorized a business taking it to the next level are plenty and many not always seen in public.There are also other modest clothing brands that are very comfortable doing things old-school and selling at events and at home(perhaps saving on overhead costs and using that income for other uses that grow the business), whatever brings in that income and works for your brand! Although, I am in the opinion that a business was meant to grow and should adapt to changes. But, really as long as you are pushing forward and you're making instead of loosing money, is what matters!
If I named every single modest clothing brand under the sun making their business shine bright like a diamond, this would turn into an extensive directory and I would have to charge you(kidding!--well, not really). So for now, meet and get inspired by a few brands who are showing us they're taking their business to the next level through actions and led by smart entrepreneurial women that are mothers, wives, sisters, friends and leading businesses all at once! An act that requires a set of special interpersonal skills. Of course assuming that they are not running on a deficit and their assets are more then their liabilities. If so, who knows, with a good sales and income track record, we might be seeing them one day in a Macy's nearest to you soon! But, in the meantime all power to them for initiative and taking their businesses to the next level! Remember, it is not always media strategies, amount of fans or the modest fashion bloggers that make a business get to the next level, but primarily a strong foundation of business practices are extremely important--everything else is just icing to the cake!
Simply Zeena is a modest clothing brand, based in Virginia and owned by sister duo Amany and Bayan Jondi. The sister duo shows us a bit into scenes behind Zeena and their lives through social media, which will make you grab your sister and give her a hug! Although, not much media exposed, they have made big steps in their business and set a strong presence among their customer community--a sign of savvy business strategies and practices. They have gone from online to their first physical location in one of the top malls in America in 2014 in addition to an ad sign in Times Square. Work it Zeena!
THE FROCK NYC
The Frock NYC is based in Brooklyn, New York and owned by sister duo Simi and Chaya. They and the brand are fun to follow on Instagram--specially their eight o'clock morning meetings, an inspiring tradition I would love to follow if only my sister could wake up early! A perfect example of combining passion, business, personal style and executing it with love and hard work. They have just launched their website. Congratulations!
MIMU MAXI is based in Brooklyn, New York and owned by sister-in-law duo Mimi and Mushky. Their brand voice is contagious and love reading their mini stories on Instagram--my reading time for the week! An example of channeling modest dressing needs, faith and style through business. They have hired their first fashion assistant and recently just expanded(quadrupled) their office space. Go MIMU!
Aab is based in the UK and has grown immensely since its launch in 2007. So much so that in March of this year, they launched a flagship store in London with a really overwhelming response of 2,000 shoppers! Well, that definitely met the sales quota of the day. Aab is a great example of persistence and knowing your shoppers modest clothing needs. Good job Aab!
Dainty Jewells is based in Oregon and owned by Charity Jewell Walter. Since its launch in 2009, Dainty Jewell has launched professionally online and progressed with its customers modest style needs. The inspiring story behind Dainty Jewells comes from Charity, owner and designer being only in her teens when she first launch her business(do the math 2009 - 2015, she still quite young!), having a business spirit and working her creativity within the boundaries of her faith. More on Dainty Jewells here. We can't wait to see more!
More Than Just Fig Leaves
More Than Just Fig Leaves is based in Brooklyn, New York. The owner and designer is Eve Emanuel. Since its launch, this modest clothing brand, has paved an example to the importance of individuality, quality clothing and timeless designs that create a balance between structure and fluidity, trends and style independence. On their last collection production, More Than Just Fig Leaves stunned us with photography that is art worthy and hosted its first modest fashion showcase [see the pictures here] Definitely raises the standards! A brand that has also showed us the importance of having a creative vision and that a business owner and designer wears many roles and each have to be executed to the detail of perfection. Power to you!
Written by Mariana