Hafsa Lodi has been in the fashion industry pretty much half of her life. Covering fashion in the Middle East from Mojeh and Vogue India to name a few, she has a BA in journalism from the Ryerson School of Journalism in Toronto and an MA in Islamic Law from SOAS in London. Her voice is beyond qualified to talk about fashion and modesty, and that is what she did on her recent adventure, her own book called “Modesty a fashion paradox”.
This market is living its best moment, if not about to, and the voice of strong women in social media has a lot to with this, embracing the modesty dressing with pride.
“Modesty a fashion paradox” gives all the details on how this market achieved this point. The good, the bad and the ugly of this corner of the industry.
On a very honest one on one interview, I spoke with Hafsa and here are her takings…
ABOUT HAFSA LODI
You have dedicated all your life to study fashion. What lead you to do that? Why is fashion so fascinating to you?
I think that fashion plays a key role in the life of every woman, whether they recognize that or not. For me personally, fashion becomes especially interesting when it’s linked to politics or religion, and how modern-day interpretations of culturally-influenced styles can look so unexpectedly fashion-forward – and often inspire mainstream, luxury designers. We always hear about Westernization in the East, but it’s so incredibly interesting to see Eastern influences on Western fashion today.
What makes you write this book?
As a follower of many modest styles and guidelines myself, I’ve always been passionate about modest fashion, and when it started appearing in the headlines of major news stories and fashion magazines, it quickly became clear that there were a lot of elements to this movement. No news story was able to fit in all of the different discussions presented by the modest fashion industry – a book was the only way to give it justice!
ABOUT THE BOOK MODESTY, A FASHION PARADOX
Please tell us what is this book about?
This book is about the rise of the global modest fashion movement. Why is modest fashion suddenly so popular? Who are the key designers, models, businesses, and bloggers driving this movement? What does modest fashion even mean? Why is it so controversial? Why is it attracting non-Muslim women? What does the future look like for the modest fashion industry?
How much time took you to write it?
From when the book was first commissioned, to when I submitted the final copy, it took a year and a half to write. But it’s important to point out that I had many interviews, articles, and research on modest fashion to start the project with, from my time reporting on modest fashion as a journalist.
How you picked the cover? What inspired you?
When browsing Instagram one day I came across a photo of the world’s first mainstream hijab-wearing model, Mariah Idrissi, which seemed to tick all of the boxes of our book-cover criteria, and I knew we had finally found the one. Mariah was dressed in a brightly-colored hot-pink power suit, with an elegant headscarf and Louis Vuitton accessories, embodying the attitude and confidence of the modest fashion movement. The image was captured in Turkey during a shoot for Hijab in Style magazine, which is a US-based publication. Mariah, along with the magazine’s editor, Shah Hatun, and photographer, Umit Taylan, graciously obliged to giving us the rights to use the photograph.
We wanted to make sure that the woman or women pictured on the cover had a strong voice and was somewhat of a pioneer in the realm of modest fashion. Mariah, who hails from Moroccan-Pakistani Muslim heritage and rose to fame as the first hijabi model to feature in a mainstream ad when she starred in H&M’s 2015 “Close the loop” campaign, is quite vocal about her faith’s influence on her lifestyle. She also travels around the world for humanitarian trips and champions diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry. We couldn’t have found a more perfect “cover girl” for the book.
Modesty fashion, a voice
The world is going under a very interesting point when it comes to fashion. There is a group that claims being naked is ok and empowering. On the other hand, another group promoting modest fashion, saying is empowering as well. How do you think fashion can empower someone? How modest fashion enriches a woman?
It isn’t not an “either, or” scenario, where only modest, or only revealing clothing can connote empowerment. I think what’s most empowering, is a woman’s choice, to choose how she portrays herself to the world.
Modest fashion is particularly empowering because by covering up their bodies, women are rejecting the societal norm that pressures women to bare their skin in order to appear attractive. Many women feel these pressures, due to the Western film and fashion industries’ emphasis on the “sexiness” of women – this is usually portrayed through minimal clothing if any at all.
The fashion industry has made room for women who are comfortable with, and happy with wearing more revealing clothing, and for it to be truly inclusive, it must make room for women who prefer covering up as well. We’re finally witnessing this now.
Where can we find your book?
For online shoppers, this book will be available at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ae, as well as online through Book Depository. I believe it will also be available at all major bookstores in the UAE, and Waterstones in the UK.
How was being in the Emirates LitFest?
It was an amazing experience. It felt so surreal to finally hold the title of “author” after working so hard on this book and to be in the company of so many talented writers. I was also humbled and honored to be joined by Mariah Idrissi, Ghizlan Guenez and Sara Hamdan on an insightful and thought-provoking panel talk about modest fashion, to kickstart the pre-launch of the book.
We know the book is available through Amazon, but are you planning a reading or a little media tour in other countries?
Yes! My publisher is actually based in London, so I’m headed there for a few events in March/April – including a panel discussion at the London College of Fashion, a book talk at SOAS University (where I got my Master’s degree in Islamic Law) and some seminar talks at the London Muslim Shopping Festival in Olympia, London.
MODESTY AS TRENDING TOPIC
Modest fashion is on a growing and fantastic point to say the least in the fashion industry. Do you think is a trend?
I think by mainstream fashion industry standards it may be perceived as a trend, but it’s been a long-lasting one. Modesty has been a strong “trend” on the runways for about five years now, which is a long time when you compare this to other style trends, which tend to dip in and out of style more quickly.
Retailers and brands are recognizing the longevity of the modest fashion trend, and the fact that it’s relevant to consumers’ lifestyles. These shoppers will continue shopping for modest fashion even if it goes out of “style” – so it makes sense for brands to continue catering to these women with more covered-up styles.
How do you see modest fashion in five years?
Modest fashion will still be extremely relevant, but perhaps it won’t be the buzzing “trend” it is today – it will become more normalized and accepted. To quote Lisa Vogl, co-founder of US-based modest wear line Verona, who is interviewed in my book, “I think sometime in the near future modest fashion in Western countries will no longer be ‘newsworthy’; I believe it will become more and more the norm.”
HAFSA LODI ON DESIGNING
Do you see yourself working on a capsule collection or fashion line in the future?
I’ve dabbled with designing before, and it’s a lot of work! Perhaps when my baby grows older, but in the near future, I think I’ll focus my efforts on writing, especially about the other wonderful creatives who are designing beautiful clothes.
Who is your favorite designer?
In the UAE, my favorite designer is Zayan Ghandour of Zayan The Label, and internationally, my favorite brand is Vivetta.
What would be your favorite fashion quote of all time?
“You can never be overdressed or overeducated” – Oscar Wilde
Find Hafsa on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hafsalodi/
Fing the book in Amazon through this link ->Modesty: a Fashion Paradox
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