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Modest fashion: Meriem Lebdiri builds labels despite prejudices

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Modest fashion: Meriem Lebdiri builds labels despite prejudices

Meriem Lebdiri is a fashion designer based in Mannheim. She designs Modest Fashion, covered clothing for women.
Diana Krüger

The market for “modest fashion”, i.e. covered clothing that is preferred by religious people, is growing steadily. According to estimates by the market researcher Dinarstandard, by 2024 it will reach a volume equivalent to around 300 billion euros worldwide, almost a third of all fashion sales.

But in Germany the market is smaller. Meriem Lebdiri, herself with roots in Algeria, designs modest fashion in the premium segment from her studio in Mannheim.

She spoke to Business Insider about her motivation to create fashion for women like her who “grew up between two worlds.” The founding as a woman with a migration background and why she separated from her investors at her first fashion label and is now starting again on her own.

“Humble is an ugly word,” says Meriem Lebdiri. Because with “modest” the “modest” in “modest fashion” is often translated. Fashion designer Lebdiri, who wears a hijab to our video interview and also has her arms covered in flowing beige fabric, prefers to use the word “covered”. After all, she makes fashion for women like herself. Also for Muslims and Christians as well as Jews, “but for women who simply want more fabric, for example”. For self-determined customers. And for those who are willing to shell out 400 euros for a blouse with longer sleeves.

According to forecasts by the market researcher Dinarstandard, the demand for such modest fashion will grow to a volume of hundreds of billions of euros worldwide in the coming years. Especially in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Indonesia. The market in Germany, on the other hand, is growing more slowly. When it was first founded in 2012, Lebdiri was one of the first to design covered fashion in Germany. In the second attempt, she wants to produce premium modest fashion without any investors.

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Hijab is an internationally used term for a cloth covering the hair, neck and chest of Muslim women. The word hijab comes from Arabic and means something like a cover, curtain, veil, headscarf.

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