Launched last week, Modessa is a new Yorkshire-based modesty fashion brand reaching out to women of all backgrounds. Fashion Editor Stephanie Smith talks to founder Abigayle Andre.
Modest fashion – clothing that covers up most or certain parts of the body – is an emerging trend, and one not simply or only related to religious culture.
Specialist modest fashion retailers report that women of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly seeking out covered-up styles for ease, elegance and the alternative aesthetic they offer.
On the catwalks and the High Street, there has been a marked movement towards draped silhouettes, oversized shapes and experimentation with form, function and layering. Globally, the modest fashion market is said to be worth hundreds of billions and is predicted to grow massively over the next few years. Whatever the reasons for choosing it are, modest dressing is here to stay.
“Modest fashion is inclusive,” says Abigayle Andre, who launched her own brand, Modessa, last week. “It is not just for those who have religious beliefs. It is for any woman who does not feel the need to show her body to gain attention, respect or anything else for that matter.”
Abigayle, 25, decided to develop Modessa after her reversion to Islam. Born and raised in Bradford, she attended several schools and was expelled twice. She did not finish her course in Fashion Design at Bradford College.
“You could say I was not your most conventional student,” she says. Nevertheless, she became a customer care manager and then a business development manager for Volkswagen, before leaving to pursue her dream. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” she says.
After her reconversion, she found it difficult to find modest clothes that suited her style. “Although I was a Muslim, I was still me, and I wanted to show it,” she says. “I began to research and speak to other women. That led me to the realisation that other women felt like me, and that both Muslim and non-Muslim women wanted modest clothing all year round. I saw a gap, and I sought to fill it.”
Modessa will debut its first and second collections on the catwalk at the London Muslim Lifestyle show at Kensington Olympia on April 21. The first collection offers five limited-edition pieces, including two draped dresses, palazzo trousers, a pussy-bow blouse and a jumpsuit.
“When designing, one of our focuses is the versatility of a garment,” Abigayle adds. “For something to be a true investment piece, it must offer more than one look. For example, our Jada blouse can be worn with a high neck à la Gucci, or pussy bow style. It can be worn with our Degha palazzo trousers or with your jeans. Wear it your way.
“My garments are designed for lunch with the ladies, work and occasions. It depends on you. I’ve rocked the jumpsuit to the supermarket. It’s all down to personal preference.”
This is style, says Abigayle, for any woman who wants to look glamorous wherever she goes. She designs the pieces herself and patterns are cut by a team in Modessa’s Huddersfield studio, then made at a factory in Leicester, using a mixture of luxury crepes and quality viscose jersey.
With their fluid, forgiving lines and a palette of soft pastels as well as black, these are elegant, feminine, wearable and modern pieces.
“Modest fashion has certainly gained traction within the last year,” she says. “Take a look at Marks & Spencer who now have a dedicated ‘modest’ tab on their website, or at the higher end, Net-A-Porter, who have introduced the same.”
Launched last Friday, Modessa already had around 4,500 Instagram followers at time of going to press, suggesting that Abigayle has indeed tapped into a gap in the market. She plans to launch several more collections this year alone.
The UK High Street, she says, is beginning to awaken (albeit slowly) to the diverse country we live in. “Not even just diversity, but our wants and needs. Not everyone wants to wear crop tops, short dresses and skirts. Sometimes that’s because of our culture or religion, and sometimes it isn’t. As a consumer, it is important to be heard. What has taken so long?”
@There’s more fashion and beauty on: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/fashion and https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/lifestyle/fashion