The Rise of Modest Fashion Week and the Modest Modeling Industry

Mar 3

As modest fashion goes mainstream, a domino effect is inevitable. If modest fashion is in demand then the suppliers or designers, in this case, must fulfill that need. In order to do that, their collections will have to be modeled for the world and therefore new demands become apparent; the need for modest fashion week, modest models to walk their runways and model agencies that can represent the models and their needs. Modest models like Halima Aden, Mariah Idrissi, Kadija Diawara and Ikram Abdi Omar are just the beginning of a long list that’s continuously growing in diversity and numbers.

While IMG and Premier model management signs modest models and is most certainly noteworthy, the representation of modest models on the part of mainstraim agencies isn't necessarily enough. Modest models are not categorically modest because of their dress or their faith. It is an internal value taken upon by an individual to be modest in their actions and demeanor as well. What this means is that modest models need same-gender dressing rooms to change in, they require full-length robes, privacy from any male employees on the shoot and may also expect that their makeup and hair only be done by a female. These guidelines are the few that modest modeling agencies like Underwraps follow.

The founder, Nailah Lymus founded the agency back in 2013 and has almost two decades of experience in the fashion industry. The ethos to be followed is simple: “We would never put them in a position to make them do something that goes against their religious and personal beliefs” a statement made to Buzzfeed News by the founder of a similar agency, Umma Models by Shannie Hammouda, which began in 2017 and represents models like Amina Begum Ali.

Amina grew up noticing the lack of representation for hijabi women and received little support from her South Asian hometown for wanting to get involved in fashion. As of 2018, at only 20, she’s modeled for London Modest Fashion Week and is one of the faces for Rimmel. She sees herself as the representation of modest petite women everywhere and isn’t the only modest model to keep your eye on.

Halima Aden was the first hijab-wearing model to be signed to an international modeling agency, IMG. Her groundbreaking appearance in a burkini and hijab at the Miss Minnesota pageant caught the attention of IMG Models in 2017. From there she went to walk the runways of Yeezy, Alberta Ferretti and Max Mara.

Another notable modest model is Mariah Idrissi who initially debuted on an H&M campaign in 2015 in a hijab. She is currently hailed as an active humanitarian and public speaker. Kadija Diawara is another model best recognized for her appearance on Chromat and Maki runways in 2018 but besides modeling, she boasts a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. Similarly, Ikram Abdi Omar, has a biomedical degree from Bristol University but is better known for modeling the Victory Swimsuit from Nike; the first modest swimsuit for the brand. Her primary recognition came from the runway of Molly Goddard in 2018, but she also has roots in London's first Modest Fashion Week that premiered the year before.

Organized by Think Fashion, primarily by concept founders Ozlem Sahin Ertas from Turkey and Franka Soeria from Indonesia, Modest Fashion Week has spanned across five continents, over forty countries and includes over three hundred designers, over one hundred buyers, over five hundred influencers and industry experts. Modest Fashion Week began in 2016 with Istanbul Modest Fashion Week —  the traveling concept then moved to London in 2017, Dubai from 2017 to 2019, Jakarta in 2018 and Amsterdam in 2019. Their goal is to bring together designers, brands, buyers, media, influencers and other creative talents to create global sustainable business relations for the $370 billion Muslim market. The style of these fashion shows are hijab optional and display long and loose cuts suitable for all body types, cultures, faiths and lifestyles. The efforts of Modest Fashion Week are only made more fruitful by the help of modest models bringing modest fashion into the conversation.

Popularizing the midi skirt is half the battle. Inclusion of modestly oriented women into mainstream modeling agencies and runways, a traveling Modest Fashion Week that grows the community while educating the area and agencies that can cater and understand the requirements of modest models are other parts. Surely, as the industry grows in size and strength, no necessity will go unchecked because as we can already see, those who want to be in the industry are no longer seeing their modest dress as a weakness — rather, it's a weapon.

Sources “Ikram Abdi Omar: Premier Model Management.” Ikram Abdi Omar | Premier Model Management,

Mvslim. “7 Remarkable Muslim Models That Are Taking Over the Fashion World.” Mvslim, 15 Aug. 2018,

[{"@type":"Person", "name":"Ikran Dahir". “Here's A Look At The Faces Behind The UK's First Modest Modelling Agency.” BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed, 29 Nov. 2018,

Çelebigil, Atakan Aydın / Ahmet. “About MFW.”

Modest Fashion Weeks


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