Modest fashion may gain popularity, the fashion industry simply isn’t ready for this shift. That is, until now. Fashion designer Ameera started her eponymous modest clothing label just two weeks ago. Tribute to Magazine had a conversation with the twenty five year old creative about modesty, sustainability and the importance of representation.
Cover photo: courtesy of Ameera
Ameera’s modest fashion journey
TTM: You’re tapping into the needs of so many women who want modest clothing. There aren’t many brands that offer solely this type of clothes, which makes them hard to find.
Ameera: ‘That’s definitely what I thought when developing the brand. My childhood dream was to have a fashion brand. When I started, I did some marketing research and found out that 89% of the women I surveyed had difficulty finding modest clothing. There’s a much bigger need than I even expected.’
It’s good to know you’re on the right track. Can you tell me a bit more about yourself?
A: ‘I studied Business at Boston University. I always had an interest in fashion, knowing that I always wanted to have my own business. In my junior year, I knew I wanted to do something in fashion. During my senior year, I had a conversation with my professor. I didn’t exactly know what to do, since starting a clothing line is a lot of work. It’s quite intimidating. So I started to work in the health care industry – not the industry I wanted, but it provided the time to work on my brand behind the scenes. Due to covid I unfortunately lost my job, but that was the silver lining and kick in the but to start my idea. From there I started doing market research and figuring out the designs. I officially launched two weeks ago.’
How were the first reactions?
A: ‘Pretty good! I thought I would have zero sales, but that wasn’t the case. My friends and family were very supportive, which helped as well.’
Congrats! And how would you describe your brand?
A: ‘I thought of this last week. It’s a brand that’s returning the elegance in modest dressing, but with the practicality of the modern day. Because if you look at fashion thirty years or so ago, it all was pretty modest – but not that practical for the modern-day. Therefore, I create modest wardrobe essentials, like a white T-shirt but then make it modest. In my recent launch, there’s a silk set you can both sleep in but it’s luxurious enough to wear it to a fancy dinner or event.’
What about sustainability?
A: ‘I design with a sustainable mindset. When I’m researching materials, I check their environmental impact in the long run and base my decisions on that impact. Furthermore, I watched the documentary “The True Cost”, which was a big eye-opener. It made me aware of the fact that if I wanted to work in fashion it had to be in a sustainable way. It was very impactful.’
New in the fashion industry
And how have you learned about the fashion industry? It seems hard to just enter it when you don’t have a background in fashion.
A: ‘I worked at two New York Fashion Weeks. Once at some independent designers, another time at Tibi. I learned a lot from them.’
What did you do at Tibi?
A: ‘I did a lot of PR work honestly, but since I was interested in design, I helped the designers as well. By doing so I was able to ask them many questions about the design process – very insightful.’
That’s such a smart choice!
A: ‘I know! And they do have a lot of modest items in their collections. So they’ve been a huge inspiration for me.’
I can imagine. How has Covid influenced your past year?
A: ‘Quite a lot. Like I said, I lost my job. It provided me the opportunity to do a lot of research for my own brand. I researched the industry, as well as a ton of manufacturers before making a decision whom to work with.’
Lack of modest womenswear
In earlier interviews, you were talking about a pain point in the market, about the lack of modest fashion in the fashion industry. How do you view this problem?
A: ‘Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. There’s simply no modest fashion brand, that’s the main issue I’m trying to solve. The women I interviewed didn’t like the clothes they were wearing. It made them feel frumpy, not confident. Most of them were dressing modestly for their faith, which is a huge value for them, but no one wants to look bad all day. They were shopping at the men’s sections as well. For some people that’s fun and they choose to do it, but when you’re forced to it isn’t that funny. So, the bigger problem is a lack of representation within the fashion industry. I want to give women empowering wardrobes without sacrificing on their style. They can finally have both.’
Representation is so important for everyone. In every sense, the fashion industry falls short at this moment. I’m really happy to see a brand like yours enters the market.
A: ‘Thanks. I remember that when I grew up, there wasn’t anyone who looked like me in the industry. A little more diversity in terms of shape, skin color and so is emerging, but there’s so much that needs to be done. The women on both the runway and backstage should be more diverse, including disabilities, heights, sizes, etcetera. We’re finally started to have voices that demand change, but it still will take a while before we’ll see widespread change.’
Yeah, we’re heading in the right direction, but it’s just the start. So, what does modest fashion mean to you?
A: ‘Modest fashion is a bit more than just the fashion itself. It’s a lifestyle. Modesty with the way you carry yourself, it’s in clothes that don’t reveal your figure too much and add some mystery to the person wearing it, but it also applies to other things in life like spending, eating, and shopping. It’s about living your entire life modestly.’
What will your next collections or product drops be like?
A: ‘I’m working on a winter collection now. I work on the perfect denim maxi skirt at the moment as well. It’s something that my mom has always wanted but never was able to find. She inspired me to start the brand. She asked me to make her a maxi skirt that wasn’t see-through or torn in any way. So here we are. Then also for the winter collection, I’m doing something Clueless inspired. We will recreate a modest version of the iconic yellow suit.’
That’s so cool!
A: ‘Thanks! I draw a lot of inspiration from clothes I see in movies. There’s a huge Western vibe in the brand as well. We’re working on a fringed trench coat as well.’
Where do you see the brand in five years?
A: ‘Five years from now I hope to be the leader in modest womenswear. I want to be the go-to place where you can find all modest fashion in one place. Because I think that’s lacking and it’s time to make a change.’