Asos selling 'modest' clothes

by - April 18, 2019

Asos joins the fashion retailers selling 'modest' clothes with the launch of its Verona collection

Modest clothing is designed for women who want less skin-revealing clothes, most commonly for spiritual reasons

When it launched in 2000, the fashion site Asos offered items that were inspired by celebrities – As Seen on Screen was its original branding. Almost 20 years on, it stocks more than 800 brands and sells accessories, activewear, co-ords, coats and jackets, dresses, hoodies and sweatshirts, jeans, shoes – and the list goes on.
It remains a major player in online fashion, despite newer rivals such as Boohoo coming for its crown by offering cut-price trends aimed at women (and men) in their teens and twenties.
If a trend in womenswear is happening, chances are it’s something Asos is already selling, or is planning to. So when it announced a new category this week – modest clothing – with both own-brand designs and those created by US label Verona Collection, it’s a sure sign that Asos knows it can turn a profit.

Showing less skin

Modest clothing is designed for women who want less skin-revealing clothes, most commonly for spiritual reasons. It’s worth noting that while one does not have to be of any religious practice to wear modest clothing, it’s generally used for a niche group of women within certain cultures and religions, predominantly women of the Islamic faith.

Verona Collection’s founders, Lisa Vogl and Alaa Ammuss, are Muslim and started their business after struggling to find modest fashion at an affordable price in America. The label launched in the US in 2015 and as of last year is stocked in Macy’s department stores. Now, with the robust distribution and customer reach of Asos, the business is expanding on a global scale.

More mainstream than you might realise

In the press release announcing the Asos launch, there was a rather bold claim: “Pioneers within the fashion industry, Verona Collection caters for a market that has previously been overlooked within mainstream society.” The idea that modest fashion is not commonly recognised within the British fashion industry isn't necessarily the case – the UK was one of the first Western markets to embrace the sector. Brands such as Aab UK, selling through Debenhams since 2017, and Maysaa have been catering to the British modest fashion market since early 2010.
Major brands have already started designing specific collections for that demographic, from Uniqlo’s collaboration with Hana Tajima to Nike’s Pro Hijab collection. And mainstream retailers have always created modest fashion pieces, albeit they haven’t been labelled as such.

Diversity, inclusion - and potential profit

The right marketing, branding and labelling is what makes certain brands stand out over others. It’s not necessarily pioneering anything new, it’s labelling it as such to encourage diversity and inclusion.
And this is what Verona Collection is doing right. As of 2018 the division “modest fashion” has been considered to be a $250bn (£19bn) global industry, and with Asos shares falling by 38 per cent in December 2018, it comes to no surprise that it needs brands such as Verona to target a “new” demographic with such spending power.

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