Fashion Oman

Alarmingly plunging necklines. Shorts getting shorter than the shortest. Clothes intended more to reveal than hide. Is this fashion? Yes; but this alone is not fashion either. Saying goodbye to skin-and-contour-oriented styles, modest fashion is gaining in popularity in the world of glamour, with the segment estimated to cross £226 billion by next year.
It has been on the ascent since its advent in 2011, and today modest fashion collections are celebrated at dedicated Modest Fashion Festivals across the world. Heralding the sector’s potential, London’s first of its kind Modest Fashion Festival held in 2017 underscored the richness and diversity of modest fashion as something that holds relevance in the global high streets of style and design.
Modest fashion has the most enthusiastic patrons in the Arab world than anywhere else, and an increasing number of designers from the region are contributing to its growth with unique collections. A new wave of social media influencers dedicated to modest fashion is adding to the segment’s appeal in the region and beyond.
Long-flowing dresses in the form of abayas and jalabiyas as well as hijabs that deftly combine the essence of tradition and modernity never fail to capture the imagination of the fashion-conscious women in the region.
Taking advantage of the rising modest fashion trend, international fashion brands have entered the scene with unique modest collections. In 2017, Dolce & Gabbana appointed beauty blogger Ruba Zai who has over a million followers on Instagram as the brand ambassador for its line of luxury abayas and scarves. D&G and some others even have Abaya make-up range as well. Major retailers have now started featuring models wearing hijab and other traditional Arab dress for their campaigns.
The reason is obvious: Modest fashion is to have nearly 15 per cent of global spending on fashion this year, with the forecast for coming years sounding even sweeter.
According to author and blogger Dina Torkia, the fashion industry for long didn’t care much about the Arab women as fashion consumers, and it’s changing. What modest fashion bloggers and influencers such as Dina Torkia, Ascia AKF and others do is to demolish stereotypes of Arab women’s modest dressing style as boring and dull.
So what are the major modest styles that are widely appreciated on and off the catwalks? They are clothes that feature a lot of layering, loose-fitting silhouettes, higher necklines and designs that are not body-hugging but stand out for their innovative aesthetics.
According to Somali-American model Halima Aden, who made waves at the New York Fashion Week with a hijab, modest fashion is here to stay. The message is loud and clear: it’s absolutely possible to look and feel stylish with an outfit that is not revealing at all.
Modest designs find their inspirations in a variety of sources including ancient architecture and art. And the interesting part is that women of all faiths and cultures find modesty as an exciting element of their fashion sense.
The Sultanate, where the land’s amazing and lofty ancient culture still resonates in all aspects of the people’s lives, the love for modest fashion is not new. Oman’s traditional women’s wear is noted for their stunning designs, flashy colours and stylish embellishments.
There are daring designers in the Sultanate who while maintaining the modesty element venture out to assimilate cultural diversity in their works. Ghadeer al Saleh, who owns the Design by G line of clothing, is such an amazing designer who looks at fashion as a unifier of eastern and western cultures. She is emboldened by the fact that the modern Omani women are open to experimenting with different styles, even as admitting that they love long-flowing graceful dresses as a symbol of feminineness.
Notably, the Omani Women’s Fashion Trends Week in 2016 turned out to be a milestone in defining the future course of the Sultanate’s modest fashion sector, with talented Omani designers such as Hala al Maamari, Huda Anwar al Sabbagh and Salha al Farsi showcasing their innovative collections inspired by Omani-Arab culture and ethos.
Almost all Omani female designers, including Nawal al Hooti, Alaa al Siyabi, Noora Karim, Ahswaq al Shaqsi, Amal al Raisi, Anisa al Zadjali and several others who have made their mark in the fashion industry, feel the long-flowing traditional Arab dress gently accentuates the feminine charm, and try to develop signature garments focusing on innovative designs. They have been quite successful in redefining the fashion sense of Oman with a deep commitment to traditional Omani sartorial styles that revel in rich ornamentation and colours.