UAE-based Hafsa Lodi discusses her new book, ‘Modesty: A Fashion Paradox’

UAE-based Hafsa Lodi discusses her new book, ‘Modesty: A Fashion Paradox’

In her new book, “Modesty: A Fashion Paradox,” which was launched at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai last month, UAE-based journalist Hafsa Lodi looks at the causes, controversies, and key players behind the worldwide modest-fashion trend.

Drawing on Lodi’s own experiences and her decade-long career in fashion journalism, the book serves as a comprehensive guide to modest fashion as a mainstream trend that’s here to stay, the role modesty plays in secularism and feminism, and the concept of modest fashion in a religious context.

Lodi begins by describing women like herself — but also hijabi models such as Halima Aden, fashion bloggers like Ascia Al-Faraj, social-media influencers including Dina Tokio — for whom faith plays a major role in guiding their fashion and lifestyle choices. These women lead a balanced lifestyle that “allows for both style and spirituality, where they can indulge in contemporary cultural trends…without compromising their faith,” Lodi says.

What began as brands and retailers cashing in on Middle Eastern and millennial purchasing power has now led to a much bigger movement that Lodi argues may not have any religious roots. In her research, Lodi quotes several academics and activists who note a collective trend of women covering or shielding their bodies — partly in response to the #MeToo movement — and suggest that a woman’s choice to cover is also an expression of feminism. Although she also attributes modest fashion’s popularity to a widespread demand for practical and comfortable clothing.

Lodi concludes that even though the women who lead this movement are constantly questioned, those questions no longer remain relevant.



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