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The 101 on Dubai’s Debut Modest Fashion Week

Halima at London Modest Fashion Week. Courtesy of Modest Fashion Week

Modest Fashion Week is an annual fashion platform founded by Franka Soeria, founder of – a social media platform dedicated to modest fashion – and Turkish entrepreneur Özlem Şahin. The duo, who met in Istanbul, initially decided to launch Modest Fashion Week in order to fill a gap in the market. Thus, Istanbul Modest Fashion Week was born. Following its roaring success, the two were invited to London to host a second edition of the fashion extravaganza, and now, Modest Fashion Week is taking place in Dubai for the first time. Held in partnership with Emaar Properties, Red Connect and Think Fashion, the two-day event will kick off on December 8-9 at Burj Park, a miniature oasis in the heart of Downtown. This year’s edition will see more than 30 international and local modest ready-to-wear, abaya, and couture designers unveil their latest collections on the runway. Here, speaks to the co-founders of Modest Fashion Week to answer your most pressing questions about Dubai’s debut Modest Fashion Week (DMFW).

Who will be there?
The fashion platform has invited modest influencers, retail vendors, and tastemakers from all points of the globe to partake in this year’s event. Hijab-wearing model Halima Aden will also be there. “We actually met Halima before she got signed to IMG,” Soeria says. In fact, they were social media friends with the Somali model when she was in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, making headlines for competing in the swimsuit portion of the competition wearing her hijab. They were constantly communicating via Instagram (and exchanging favorite burkini brands). “Before she got signed to IMG, we knew her, we direct messaged her. When she got signed to IMG, we invited her to London, and she said, ‘of course,’ so when we asked her to come to Dubai, she was more than happy to join,” Soeria adds.

Mariah Idrissi, the first hijab-wearing model to appear in an H&M’s fashion campaign, in 2015, will also be walking the runway. Among the modest style influencers who will also be in attendance is Habiba da Silva, Vogue Arabia’s “Muses of Modesty” Saufeeya Goodson and Safiya Abdallah, HE Sara Al Madani, as well as the face of the new Nike Pro HijabManal Rostom.

London Modest Fashion Week

Which brands are showcasing?
“We’re going to have more than 40 hand-picked designers, from nearly 20 different countries,” says Şahin. “There will be exclusive talks, immersive art exhibitions, and workshops as well.” Soeria pipes in, “We’re going to have some local brands showing their collections, too.”

The modest fashion extravaganza will include 30 fashion shows from both international and regional brands. These include Japan’s leading modest fashion designer, Huw Roman, renowned leather handbag label Doris Dorothea, modest label Fllumaé, Sumayya & SSS from Indonesia, and German-designer Meriem Lebdiri of Mizaan. Kuwaiti ready-to-wear label Anotah will also be presenting, as well as India’s first abaya designer, Murcyleen Peerzada.

What perceptions about modest fashion do you hope to change?
“Modest fashion week doesn’t only equate to the hijab,” says Soeria, who didn’t start wearing a headscarf until she got married. “You don’t have to  necessarily wear a veil or be part of a certain religious background to dress modestly.”  Şahin says, “While the rise of modest influencers has helped to change the perception of Islamic dressing on a global scale, it’s also inspired women of all faiths to opt for alternative styling options.” Indeed, some of the world’s most renowned Western brands are keen to be part of the movement. Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, American Eagle, Caroline Herrera, and DKNY are all crafting collections especially for the fashion-forward, modest woman.

Istanbul Modest Fashion Week. Courtesy of Modest Fashion Week

Why Dubai?
“The project has been over a year in the making,” Şahin says. “We are very sleepless girls, we’ve been getting two or three hours of sleep every night.” This was in part due to finding an ideal partner to collaborate with on organizing the event. Eventually, the co-founders teamed up with Emaar Properties and DDFC, among others. “After Istanbul and London, we consider Dubai the center for modest fashion in the GCC,” says Soeria. Şahin adds, “Dubai is an amazing city. There really is a huge market for fashion, especially modest fashion, here. ” As for their next stop? “Right now we’re torn between Paris and Saudi Arabia,” says Soeria.

Dubai Modest Fashion Week will take place at Burj Park, Downtown Dubai on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 December 2017 from 11am to 10pm

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