SHAFAQNA – ZAHRA ALJABRI DESCRIBES THE MOTIVATION BEHIND CREATING HER MODEST FASHION SHOP, MODE-STY, AND HOW SHE’S HELPING WOMEN ACROSS FAITHS AND BOUNDARIES.
I started a fashion company so I could be my true self- an American and a woman of faith. The image of an American girl is short shorts a la Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian, while a faithful woman is more likely found in a cardigan sweater set. Neither look works for me. I’m a religious millennial who grew up in southern California. I believe in dressing modestly, so wearing revealing trends, no matter how cute, is not an option. However, I also don’t want to wear typical modest clothing that is dull, shapeless, and plain. The lack of affordable and fashionable modest clothing has been a major pain for the over ten million practicing women of faith throughout the United States. What is supposed to be a quick trip to the mall, turns into hours of sifting through backless or sleeveless dresses or spending hundreds on alterations.
I believe that in the divisive climate our nation faces, we have an opportunity to bring together women of all faiths in their common love for modest and fashionable clothes, regardless of the reason behind their choice. That is why I founded Mode-sty, to offer all women beautiful clothing that is modest.
How A Modest Clothing Line is Helping Empower Women TWEET THIS My work at Mode-sty is much bigger than fashion as it has enabled to tackle three related goals: empowering women, promoting a positive understanding of modesty and bringing women of different faiths together.
At the individual level Mode-sty offers women beautiful clothing with an effortless shopping experience. Studies have shown a direct link between dressing well and confidence, proving that great outfit is uplifting and empowering. For modest women, having clothing that incorporates their full identity and allows them to fit in fosters a sense of belonging which empowers them to be their best selves. I receive so many emails from women who tell me they have been emboldened to go after their ambitions because they feel they “look the part.”
These women no longer have to be on the margins of fashion because they dress modestly. By providing fashion that matches the values of modest women, we empower them to look, feel, and perform their best. My business has also allowed me to amplify the voice of modest women and push back against negative stereotypes surrounding modesty. For example, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump attacked the Gold Star mother Ghazala Khan, by saying she was not allowed to speak presumably because she was a modestly dressed Muslim women.
My company fosters a community of modern, diverse, high achieving women that counters the misconceptions that modest women are oppressed or backwards. We showcase that the choice to dress modestly is just as liberating a choice as is choosing to be revealing. The choice comes from a place of power because women are taking control of who has access to their bodies.
This work sends the message that a women’s place in society or modernity does not stem from how much we reveal but what we contribute to society. When I started Mode-sty I was very intentional about focusing on fashion and a broad definition of modesty. I did this because I wanted to build a large company that could be the Nordstrom or Macy’s of modest fashion and wanted to appeal to all the women who are interested in modest fashion.
I knew that modesty is a virtue valued by nearly every major religion and even by non-religious women. To respect their personal choices and celebrate their love of fashion, my site is non-religious. The result has been heartwarming; I have customers and followers from all over the world and of all faiths. This has enabled me to engage them in conversations that start around our shared love of modest fashion then move to other topics and end up showing that our similarities far outweigh our differences. By bringing women together through a common bond, we are building unity and community to drown out the voices of hate trying to divide us.
This social aspect of our business has become more salient with the recent elections and the uniquely diverse customer base we serve which includes: Muslims, Jews, Evangelical Christians, Pentecostals, Mormons, Atheists and Agnostics of every race and background. Fashion has the power to normalize and create a sense of belonging and community. Mode-sty aims to do that, one dress (with sleeves) at a time.