On 20 June, IHRC held an author evening with Hafsa Lodi to discuss her book, Modesty: A Fashion Paradox. Hafsa was joined by model and writer, Mariah Idrissi. The discussion was chaired by author and founder of Waw Stories, Mariam Hakim.

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About the book: 

Modest fashion has been gaining momentum in the mainstream global fashion industry over the past half-decade and is now a multi-billion-dollar retail sector. Its growing and now consistent appearance on high-profile fashion runways, on celebrities and in the headlines of fashion publications and news outlets, has shown that the modest fashion movement is hugely relevant to consumers. This is particularly true for millennials who are attracted to the feminist influences behind concealing your body, follow faith-based dress codes, or are attuned to social media, where more and more modest fashion bloggers are using imagery to inspire their followers. While the movement can credit European high fashion houses, like Gucci, for making conservative dresses and layering “in style” and “on trend,” and subsequent Western labels like DKNY, H&M and Mango for dabbling in the realm of modest wear, it is the newly emerging group of faith-influenced fashion brands who are driving the revolution, along with a new crop of Muslim fashion bloggers. These have helped catapult demure dressing trends globally.

This book speaks to the various personalities and companies who have helped shape the modest fashion industry into such a significant retail sector, while also exploring the controversies that lie at the heart of the movement, such as one pressing question: even if it covers the skin but is flamboyant, modelled with the purpose of attracting attention, and publicly promoted on social media, can fashion truly be modest?

About the author: 

Hafsa Lodi is an American-Muslim journalist who has been covering fashion and culture in the Middle East for more than a decade. She has a BA in journalism from Ryerson University (Toronto) and an MA in Islamic law from SOAS, University of London. She writes frequently about the intersection of faith, fashion and feminism, and her work has appeared in The Independent, Refinery29, Business Insider, Teen Vogue, Vogue Arabia, Stylist, Glamour, The National, Luxury, Mojeh, Grazia Middle East, GQ Middle East, gal-dem and more.

Hafsa’s debut non-fiction book Modesty: A Fashion Paradox, commissioned and published by Neem Tree Press, launched at the 2020 Emirates Literature Festival. It explores the causes, controversies and key players of the global modest fashion movement from cultural, religious, political and feminist lenses. Harper’s Bazaar US called it “a well-researched and tender portrait of the politics and people behind a movement.”