The Modist's new in-house collection, Layeur.

LONDON — The Modist, the London and Dubai-based e-commerce platform specializing in modest fashion, has announced plans to cease operations, following the financial hits it has taken due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Whilst our plans and position were quite different only weeks ago, the global pandemic crisis that hit the world shifted our position entirely and rendered our young business very vulnerable, which left us with no choice but to close down,” wrote Ghizlan Guenez in an Instagram post, announcing the news to her community.

The retailer launched online three years ago, firing up the conversation around modest fashion and attracting a series of high-profile investors including Vaultier7, the Chalhoub Group, Farfetch and Nicola Bulgari. They all saw an opportunity in the start-up’s focus on an industry segment that had been gaining traction and was worth $484 billion last year, according to Thomson Reuters.

Guenez, who has a finance background, stood out in the retail space for taking an all-inclusive approach that transcended religions, cultural backgrounds and ages.

“When you start a business with a purpose like The Modist, which was built on values of celebrating women’s choices, diversity and inclusion, breaking stereotypes and putting a stick in the ground in the space of modesty, you find solace in the fact that while the business might no longer exist, its impact is everlasting and the conversations that it created will have played a role in changing mindsets,” said Guenez.

The company’s team was full of Net-a-porter veterans, including former global sales and marketing director Lisa Bridgett, who more recently acted as The Modist’s chief operating officer. The site stocked more than 180 labels, including a mix of established and younger names such as Victoria Beckham, Osman, Burberry, Jil Sander and Rejina Pyo.

It also operated an in-house label, dubbed Layeur, and published its own original content with a magazine called The Mod, that put a focus on entrepreneurial women.

It is the latest fashion casualty in the U.K. so far this year: Even before COVID-19 swept through Europe, Peter Pilotto and Henry Holland both announced they were winding down operations. Laura Ashley fell into administration last month and Cath Kidston is looking for a buyer. Both companies said they were impacted heavily by the coronavirus.

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