In her role as founder and chairwoman of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), an organisation established to further the development of the Islamic fashion and design industry worldwide, Alia Khan is leading the charge in the modest fashion movement. “I sometimes wonder if people really understand what the term modest actually means,” says Canadian-Pakistani Alia. “For me, I’ve chosen to partake in that lifestyle because it empowers me; it frees me. I feel like I don’t have the pressure of having to show my body to prove something.”
And it is this life choice that sees her turn to various regional labels for her day-to-day wardrobe essentials, modest-driven brands that cater to her love of understated, yet unexpected, fashion. “I’m a fan of something being different, but fitting exactly in the modesty category, because it’s not breaking any of the rules,” she explains. “That’s what I love about modest dressing – you don’t need to be overstated to make a statement.”
An avid believer and practitioner of upcycling fashion, Alia also looks to designer Ann Taylor and Dubai-based store Retold for pre-loved pieces and vintage finds, urging others to follow suit and re-use looks that “already exist without having to compel the industry to make more,” she explains. This passion and drive, paired with a unique understanding of how one can take modesty and make it their own, is something that has been passed down for generations within the Khan family and for Alia, whose upbringing took place in America, sparked a lust and yearning to connect with her Islamic heritage.
“I always felt that there was something very romantic about getting back in touch with my roots, and now I get to demonstrate the most stylish side of what it means to be a Muslim woman, and the most open-minded elements of Islam, all within my work,” she says. “My grandmother was one of the most stylish Muslim women I have known. She was extremely fashionable, and yet she didn’t compromise on her faith-based principles. I think she gave me this fun sense for dressing, one that she passed down to my mother, who followed in her footsteps, and today, is one of the most stylish women you’ll ever meet. These are women who take pride in who they are, and represent it well.”
- Words:: Dina Kabbani