Hibo Moallim, an 18-year-old Muslim student, walks into Mr. G’s Place in Roxbury and begins perusing the racks in search of an outfit. She says hello to the store owner as she picks up vibrant headscarfs and flowing skirts. Mr. G’s Place is one of the only spots in Boston that specializes in modesty wear.
Mikaela Martin, 16, from Mattapan, thinks modesty wear is “being conservative of what you wear and being mindful of what it means to you.”
To Moallim, modesty wear is any dress below her ankles. “I don't like showing my arms so I always have a long sleeve on. You can’t wear ripped jeans or too tight jeans,” she said.
Moallim went all over town to find an outfit for Eid, a major Muslim holiday.
“You don't want to go to a Somali store because everyone is going to go there and everyone is going to have the same clothes.” She eventually found a dress at H&M, but it was too short, so she had to improvise.
Moallim and her family frequently order their hijabs and other clothes online from a store in Minnesota that specializes in Muslim modesty wear. “If you really want to pop out for Eid or an event, you gotta order your clothes from Africa or Minnesota,” she said.
Modesty wear should be more accessible all over the country, not just in concentrated pockets across the states.
In Boston, there are two Muslim clothing stores that specialize in affordable modesty wear—Mr. G’s Place and Mabruuk Fashion, both in Roxbury. There are also a few stores that young people like to shop in that do not exclusively specialize in Muslim modesty wear - H&M, Marshalls, T. J. Maxx and occasionally Forever 21.
For such a prominent corner of the market, the Muslim population does not receive enough representation in fashion. According to the 2015-2016 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, the global Muslim community spent $230 billion on clothing in 2014.
The number is expected to grow to $327 billion by 2020. These soaring statistics are because 29 percent of the global population is estimated to be Muslim by 2030, according to Al Jazeera America.
Why has it taken so long for the high fashion industry to cater to such a prominent market? Martin believes that merchandisers are hesitant to feature Muslim fashion because because “Islam is never viewed as something that is positive.”
Western designers are beginning to make modesty friendly lines for Muslim women. The hijab and abayas are becoming normalized by the higher fashion brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Oscar De La Renta according to Vogue.
Hana Tajima, a Muslim fashion designer, has recently teamed up with Uniqlo to create a new line of modesty friendly, affordable clothing for Muslims. Her collaboration is one of the first modesty friendly clothing lines that has hit mainstream clothing stores.
As the Muslim market continues to grow in size, designers are slowly beginning to accommodate this large percentage of the population.