In the honour of modest fashion

In the honour of modest fashion

“When Hafsa Lodi worked as a fashion journalist in UAE, the fashion stories not only inspired her but gave her an opportunity to explore the modest fashion industry and to write a book. She talks about her book, “Modesty-A Fashion Paradox” which she hopes will enlighten and inspire the readers and change views of modesty fashion. 

Words: Rabi’ah.M 

As an individual, Hafsa Lodi likes to define herself as someone “inquisitive, creative and in a constant state of multi-tasking”. With her journalistic background and experience as a fashion reporter for The National newspaper in UAE, she realised the importance of modest wear.  Collating her fashion stories, she decided to pen these fantastic stories in the form of a book titled: “Modesty- a fashion paradox”. 

Despite a newspaper background working on a book was challenging, as she explains: “The editing process was very tough, around 10,000 words were cut from my first draft. I also needed to ensure the overall tone was balanced and explored various aspects of debates and controversy.

The book took her a year and a half to complete. Topics such as Muslim women and modest fashion are truly sensitive, especially where the hijab is involved”. Hafsa tells me that the book focuses on the “how” and “why” of modest fashion becoming popular in the lead up to 2020. She evaluates the movement from feminist, cultural and political aspects.

Whilst working on the book she realised the historical context of Muslim women’s dress codes. As she describes: “I learned a lot about various countries own approaches to fashion and was surprised to learn that hijabs were banned in the past, in most Muslim-majority countries.” It may appear as though the modest fashion industry is overrated which Hafsa certainly agrees with: “I think it’s been tremendously helpful in shining a light on this driving retail segment that’s relevant to so many women; regardless of them being a Muslim, non-Muslim or entirely non-religious.”

She believes it is hard to ascertain whether outfits are adhering to an Islamic dress code since everyone has a different understanding and approach to fashion where they encounter hardships in dressing according to Islamic values. It also comes down, however, to balancing this with contemporary styles and cultures, especially if one is residing in the West.

Image: Ushma Dhakan

The emergence of the modest fashion movement indicates that there is a demographic of women for whom covering up is deeply ingrained in their lifestyle. She emphasizes: “I believe the wider industry has recognised this as a consistent demand instead of a fleeting, fad-based interest.” Choosing the title of this book was tough due to the many choices she had but “Modesty – a fashion paradox” felt perfect, since it encompasses the conversation and debate of the modest fashion industry, featuring the good, bad and controversial.

When asked to name her favourite author and her inspiration, she says: “I like the work of Michael Muhammad Knight and I love the books of Elif Shafak.” Describing her fashion look, Hafsa gives me an interesting description: “I usually wear a floaty floral midi-dress with a pair of clunky white trainers. As a new mother, living in Dubai I prioritise comfort over glamour but I also like to inject some personality into my style with kitschy accessories and a consistent cat-eye when it comes to beauty.” She hopes Muslim readers will feel a sense of inspiration and validation when they read her book and become enlightened and open-minded.

On a final note, she says …

“I hope non-Muslims will have an entirely different image in their minds of what a Muslim woman should look like once they finish reading the book.” 

Buy the book here



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