Fashion is a big business. Estimates vary, but one report puts the global industry at $1.2 trillion, and modest fashion alone is an estimated $400+ billion. Fashion Brands and stores like Zara, H&M and Forever 21 are turning out new styles faster than ever. While many women shop at these stores looking for trendy items that they can convert into modest fashion, they also end up buying a lot of pieces that they may wear only once. The availability of cheap clothing from Asia, only exacerbates the problem of purchasing disposable clothing.

Many modest fashion brands have jumped on this trend of offering disposable fashion. But the tradeoff comes in the quality of the clothes that are being sold. When I travelled to Asia several years ago and toured the countless markets, I found fashionable pieces that were seen on the runways at unbelievably low prices. The catch was in the quality, most of the items were made from polyester blends. Yet so many people were spending money to buy bags full of these clothes that I couldn’t imagine how they would tolerate wearing them.

As the trend of disposable fashion increased, these same pieces started showing up in the US and now you can find them in modest clothing companies as well. The typically modest maxi dress, will be made from a stretch polyester blend rather than cotton jersey. Why? Because cotton is more expensive than polyester. What I never understood was how women will make sure their sheets are cotton but not the clothes they wear. In modest fashion, fabric in particular should be of great importance since wearing clothes that offer coverage but are not breathable will make you extremely uncomfortable.

Not only have cheap fabrics found their way into modest fashion but also poor quality. The countless brands that sell poorly sewn or mass produced clothes are growing. I couldn’t agree more with Vera Wang who said “Fashion to me has become very disposable; I wanted to get back to craft, to clothes that could last.” One reason we decided to launch B. Zarina was to make quality modest clothing. Our mother taught us to sew at a young age and seeing so many poorly made modest clothing items out in the market, it was almost if we were doing a dis-service by not offering long lasting well-made clothes.

Clothing manufactures today should design clothes that are environmentally friendly and of better quality. We want our customers to get the most out of our products and we want to provide them with pieces that they can wear for years not a few days.

August 22, 2016 — Kulsoom Gul

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