Freedom to be you: the new French e-boutique defends modest fashion as a “banner of diversity” | Salaam Gateway


Part of the conversation about diversity and inclusion in French society is fighting secularism and the right to religious practice in public.

In fashion, modest clothing is most often associated with Islamic practice, and Muslims are probably its largest consumer base and supporters. In France, it is not easy to practice Islam if you are a Muslim woman who wears the burqa or the hijab. In the name of secularism, the French government banned the full-face veil ten years ago and is pursuing a law this year banning the headscarf for women under the age of 18, as part of a bill that says ” anti-separatism ”.

In January 2018, during one of the first modest fashion shows in Paris, the organizer told Reuters that France’s resistance to modest fashion has “nothing to do with fashion itself, it has to do with religion “.

Fast forward three years amid continued condemnation of President Emmanuel Macron’s anti-separatism bill – by Muslims and non-Muslims alike (Amnesty International said the proposed law would be a “serious attack on human rights and freedoms “) – as Islamophobic and discriminatory, two entrepreneurs with a brand new e-boutique decouple the modest fashion-Islam story by giving priority to the choice of women.


In France, fashion is not inclusive, French Moroccan-born Soukaïna Jaafari told Salaam Gateway. The Parisian and her partner Maud Garnier launched their modest Ordestie fashion e-boutique at the end of last year.

Ordesty sees modest fashion as a way for a person to “impart the freedom” to be themselves, and calls it “the banner of diversity” which “has no borders or religion”.

Jaafari and Garnier continue the conversation in France which calls for a woman’s right to choose for herself what she wants to wear, moving away from the religious argument and giving a modest fashion to any woman, Muslim or not, who has it. chooses.

“We believe that fashion is a unique way to break stereotypes,” Jaafari said. “Many modest fashion brands are emerging, and followers of this style of dress in France need a platform to showcase them.

Jaafari and Garnier, who live in Laval in the west of France, met in early 2020 in a start-up incubator where they explored opportunities to launch their businesses.

“We didn’t know each other but found that we had one thing in common: the difficulty of finding a fashion that meets our criteria of modesty in a European style,” said Jaafari.

Modest fashion is nothing new in France. Ahead of the modest Oriental Fashion 2018 runway show, modest clothing hit the Paris catwalks in 2017 as part of the International Fashion Summit during Paris Fashion Week.

Thanks also to the Muslims of France – the Republic is home to the largest Muslim population in Europe, estimated at 5.72 million in 2016, or 8.8% of the country’s population – there are many brands selling modest fashion. .


The discourse Ordestie and other modest French fashion companies now use is one of inclusion and ethics.

Values-conscious business owners select brands to align with what Ordestie believes in: modesty, inclusion and ethical fashion.

When Ordestie launched in December, five brands signed. In the past six months, the portfolio has grown to twelve, offering items ranging from skirts and pants to tunics, sportswear and accessories.

The online store‘s idea of ​​inclusion covers women of all shapes, backgrounds and religious views – from models showcasing fashion to customers purchasing the products. In the future, the e-commerce platform will offer sizes up to 52 on request.

Jaafari and Garnier pursue “Made in France” creations which are produced in workshops that respect human conditions and demonstrate transparency on the subject.

Brands like Barcha and Toucoulor Paris share Ordestie’s convictions.

Barcha, run by sisters Iman and Lamia Mestaoui, specializes in making turbans. According to the company’s website, the Barcha team regularly inspects their French and Tunisian contract workshops to uphold workers’ rights such as fair wages and proper working conditions. Barcha’s creations weave Franco-Tunisian culture and the religious identity of the sisters into the fabric of the brand.

Also embracing its roots, Toucoulor Paris was named after a West African ethnic group originally from Senegal and Mali. The brand combines African touches with its style by applying ancestral know-how to indigo-dyed fabrics. Made in France and some pieces handcrafted in Africa, the collections are produced in limited editions to guarantee exclusivity, a welcome step since mass-produced and fast, fashion is responsible for a massive increase in waste.

Europeans use nearly 26 kilos of textiles and throw away around 11 kilos of them, per person, each year, reports the European Parliament on its website on the circular economy. Instead of being recycled, 87% of used clothing is incinerated or landfilled. To combat this waste, the EU calls on all Member States to separately collect textiles by 2025 at the latest.

France goes further and prohibits the destruction of unsold non-food stocks such as clothing, among other categories of products. In February 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron signed Law No. 2020-105 on the circular economy and the fight against waste which will now require manufacturers, distributors and stores to give or recycle unsold items instead of to throw them.

Addressing ethical issues, such as reducing or eliminating waste, is what Ordestie sees as part of the modest fashion mindset.


It’s still early days for Jaafari and Garnier, but they believe they’ve gotten over their youthful issues and are already planning to move forward.

In the coming weeks, the entrepreneurs plan to increase the number of brands on their platform to 20, create a seasonal catalog and set up a personal shopper service. As soon as all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the Ordestie team plans to organize pop-up stores in Paris to connect customers and brands in real life.

France is one of the world’s fashion capitals and the sector represents the largest share of the country’s e-commerce revenue, at 32% in 2020. The market is sufficient to occupy Ordestie but Jaafari and Garnier dream of more Parisian streets.

“For the moment, we only operate in France. But we want to become an international platform, ”Jaafari said. The first steps are scheduled for September.

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