Ghizlan Guenez, founder and CEO of The Modist, a new luxury e-commerce platform dedicated to modest attire, explains her plan to reset notions of demure dressing to Zaneta Cheng.
Ghizlan Guenez would be the first to tell you that modesty is often boring, dull and dowdy: “Super-cool, trendy fashion is not the first thing that comes to mind,” she says. But she’s also on a mission to change that with her new e-commerce venture The Modist, launched globally in March this year.
Spurred by her lifelong frustration – and that of the women around her – with the dearth of sartorial options in retail that are at once fashionable and modest, the former private equity investor began building what has now been deemed the Net-a-Porter of modest fashion. Sole investor and CEO, Guenez is focusing her efforts on catering to this niche and in the process increase the visibility of modest fashion and to broaden its associations.
“The vision is to create a platform for the modest dresser that understands her needs entirely,” she says. “Often, the few propositions out there that have done modesty either do it with a religious direction or in a manner that doesn’t necessarily have a strong fashion point of view.”
Regardless of whether or not existing offerings are fashion-forward, however, it’s undeniable that Guenez has come into the market at an opportune time. According to a recent report on the global Islamic economy, total demand for modest dress is estimated to be worth US$327 billion by 2020. And though The Modist by no means caters solely to religious customers – its second-largest market is the United States, for which the data indicates that few shoppers make purchases from an Islamic perspective – the Muslim market is a veritable goldmine.
Just this year, Vogue Arabia launched its first print issue and London held its inaugural modest fashion week, while behemoths such as DKNY, Mango and Uniqlo – and even luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta – are exploring modest options for the demographic.
Headquartered in Dubai and with a satellite office in London, The Modist has fused together a unique combination of modesty and fashion. Sasha Sarokin, its buyer and fashion director, laughs as she recalls her limited notion of the concept of modesty when first approached by Guenez in early 2016 to join the enterprise.
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