When the topic of “modest clothing” comes up, images of Middle Eastern women in long robes emerge. And while that remains true, the trend of modest clothing is spreading west.

According to data analytics firm Edited, the demand for modest fashion “is expanding outside of the UAE and seeing growth in the western world with a 15 percent increase since 2017.”

In a report written by Charlotte Yau with research and data by Edited market analyst Kayla Marci, the firm noted that “modest clothing” receives about 8,000 Google searches each month in the U.S. “And religion isn’t the only reason women are opting to cover up,” the researchers said. “For some, it’s a personal preference; they find modesty empowering. With the #MeToo movement, women are dressing for themselves than for the male gaze. While the majority of customers are based in the Middle East, demand is growing in the U.S. and U.K.”

Yai and Marci noted that in the U.S. luxury market “there was a 50 percent [year-over-year] increase of long-sleeve blouses with a high neckline” and the midi shape “also makes up 53 percent of total skirt assortment.”

“So who’s wearing modestly?” the researchers said. “Western women in the U.S. make up 36 percent of customers shopping on The Modist, an e-commerce platform for luxury modest fashion. The retailer showcases pieces from luxury brands alongside up-and-coming Middle Eastern designers.”

Edited stated that the fashion luxury segment is “pioneering the modest fashion movement,” citing designers such as Alessandro Michele at Gucci who has introduced “more feminine and elegant pieces” that has “started to trickle through.”

Kenzo Spring 2019

Kenzo Spring 2019  Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

“This evolution is obvious in Gucci’s recent marketing, a stark contrast to their campaigns from the early [Aughts] (‘G’ pubic hair anyone?),” authors of the report said. “Meanwhile, Kenzo and Burberry’s spring 2019 campaigns featured long silhouettes, chaste necklines and headscarves.”

Edited added that within the UAE, “black is still the predominant color for abayas, long traditional robes, but playful colors like red and pink are on the rise.” The firm said patterned abayas have also “increased by 70 percent in the past month compared to the month prior.”

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