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US Muslim Solves Fashion Modesty Dilemma

Published: 07/05/2013 12:18:13 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Turned off by revealing clothing in different malls, a Minneapolis Muslim woman has established an online shop for fashionable, modest clothes, interweaving her faith with modern fashion.“The majority of retailers (more)

CAIRO - Turned off by revealing clothing in different malls, a Minneapolis Muslim woman has established an online shop for fashionable, modest clothes, interweaving her faith with modern fashion.

“The majority of retailers simply neglect women like me by producing overly revealing designs,” Zahra Aljabri, a Minneapolis local lawyer, told Star Tribune.

“Conservative [dressing] women are at a disadvantage because they have to spend significantly more time and money to find anything at all, much less something stylish.”

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Working as a lawyer in Minneapolis, Aljabri has a hard luck in shopping malls.

As a Muslim woman, clothing with short hemlines, clingy fabrics and revealing necklines were never suitable for her sense of propriety or her sense of style.

Feeling the problem of conservative modest women, either Muslims or no, she researched the viability of starting a website to sell more modest clothing

Collaborating with her tech-savvy husband, James Faghmous, she created and launched Mode-sty ( last year.

The site, which is still in beta testing, relies on a pop-up model, selling products online only during designated windows of time.

The site offers garments of well-known brands such as BCBG Maxazria and Rachel Roy alongside lesser known names.

Aljabri said that the pop-up store allows her to refine her business model, experiment with clothing lines and learn more about her customers.

Holding a law degree, Aljabri she has to work hard to keep abreast of style trends.

“I've immersed myself in the world of designers, manufacturers and trendsetters,” she said.

“I spend a lot of time reading and talking to fashion insiders to stay on top of everything that is currently happening in the industry.”

The United States is home to an estimated Muslim minority of between seven to eight million.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.


Though the site is still in beta version, it has manager to attract loyal customers who found their goals there.

“Mode-sty is a godsend for women who want conservative clothing for religious or cultural reasons,” Mary Ellen Gast of Edina said.

“But it's also a boon for those of us whose desire to dress well has become needlessly challenging.”

Gast, like many women, knows exactly what she doesn't want in her wardrobe: “mid-thigh hems, bandage dresses, in-your-face cleavage.”

“Stylish but conservative clothing that I can stand, sit, move and bend over in — without needing strategically deployed props to avoid flashing anyone,” she said.

“Zahra does the weeding for me, and my psyche is unscathed.”

Working with local and national brands, Aljabri tries to curate a unique collection.

“We pull pieces from both established brands and independent designers,” she said.

“In both cases, we're focused on finding really beautiful garments with the coverage our members are looking for. Once it meets our coverage requirements, we focus on quality and fit. We only take pieces that pass all of these criteria.

“For any particular sale, we might go through nearly 100 pieces, find maybe 20 that are modest, and keep two.”

She hopes to grow her small website into a permanent destination for modest women.

“Just walk into J. Crew, Zara or Mango, or visit online retailers like ShopBop and Gilt Groupe and you'll see the exact same model smiling out at you,” she said.

“Even if you aren't particularly conservative, there aren't many alternatives to what every other brand is selling.”

Reproduced with permission from