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The BoF Podcast: Inside Ghizlan Guenez’s Mission For Modest Dressing

This week on Inside Fashion, the entrepreneur discusses the modest dressing movement and her e-commerce venture The Modist.

LONDON, United Kingdom — Over the past few years, more and more women are opting for clothing that’s a little longer and slightly looser. It’s part of a shift towards modest dressing that goes beyond religious dictates and stretches from the Middle East to Los Angeles.

"There's a whole spectrum of modesty that goes from a woman who covers her entire body and face, so you don't see anything, to someone who is more moderate in the way that she dresses," explained Ghizlan Guenez, founder and chief executive of The Modist, an e-commerce business launched in 2017 and targets the underserved market of women who want to dress fashionably yet in a demure way. Today, the company has offices in Dubai and London, and ships to over 120 countries.

The Modist was inspired by the struggles Guenez and her mother faced when looking for what she called “fashionable but also conservative” clothes. (Guenez found it challenging to find options other than navy or black suits during her 13-year career in finance; her mother found it difficult to dress stylishly while staying true to her Muslim faith.) “The shopping experience became so frustrating, time-consuming and a little bit alienating, because it was hard to find something that was relevant from that perspective,” she recalled.

“It’s not about the lack of availability of product, but the fact that this woman has to go through hundreds of products to find what she is looking for, whether it’s online or offline. There’s a lack of inspiration in styling and a lack of content that is relevant to her,” said Guenez. “We’re about choice. We feel strongly about the fact that exercising your choice is very empowering.”

The Modist launched with 75 brands, including Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, Marni and Emilia Wickstead. Today, it sells over 150 labels, with many designers producing pieces specifically for The Modist, as well a private label called Layeur. In September, the retailer entered a global partnership with London-based marketplace Farfetch.

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