UAE: Modest fashion the focus of new online Cover Magazine


Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane, the National

A new global ­digital magazine is aiming to become the Vogue of the conservative-fashion world.

Alia Khan, director of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council. Antonie Robertson / The National

The brainchild of Dubai-based Alia Khan, chairwoman of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), Cover Magazine is a free web-based quarterly publication available on the website that targets readers who are currently underserved on the conservative style scene.

The debut issue, which launches on Friday, features model Victoria Scholtz wearing a structured black outfit by South African label Erre, teamed with a scarlet scarf.

“It’s a personal dream of mine to see this happen,” says Khan. “The global modest market needs to be better connected and a digital platform like this gives people a voice. It will let them further develop themselves within their modest ­lifestyles.”

Never before has an international title been squarely aimed at women, aged 18 to 45, who for cultural or religious reasons choose to wear ­conservative-yet-contemporary clothes. With that in mind, Cover’s first edition is packed with fashion and personal grooming features, style advice for women and men, and much more, says Khan.

It includes – but is by no means restricted to – abayas, jalabiyas, shaylas, hijabs, dusters as well as conservative activewear, evening wear and daily wear. Khan says these particular styles appeal to not only Muslim women but anyone who favours longer hemlines, looser silhouettes and a little more coverage than some of the mainstream labels provide.

“There’s also a lot of focus on which designers to watch, but there will also be opinion pieces, lifestyle articles, inspiration stories and guidance or ­support-type features.”

Interviews with famous people and cultural icons are also par for the course, says Khan.

“In this edition we’ll hear from Peter Sanders, who could perhaps be best described as the ‘Herb Ritts of Islamic fashion photography’. He’s a great photographer who embraced Islam in the 1970s before which he was a photographer and friend to rock stars like the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. He’s an artist of legendary status and we felt that people, who are developing their careers in fashion and photography, needed to hear from him.”

Other revered figures in the spotlight this May include the award-winning designer and creative entrepreneur, Peter Gould.

“It’s all about what our readers can learn from him,” says Khan. “Whether they’re launching their own fashion label or even branding themselves. For example, many young bloggers are becoming ambassadors and spokespeople for our industry these days – which is very welcome – but their surprising emergence means that they would benefit from Gould’s type of guidance.”

The person responsible for delivering the primary issue was Indonesian-born, Turkey-based Franka Soeria. Among the many fashionable hats Soeria wears is that of International Director of IFDC and organiser of Istanbul Modest Fashion Week – which will be held tomorrow and on Saturday in Istanbul and herald the official launch of Cover ­online.

“Franka has put together something fabulous for our first issue, focused on trying to give every region fair space – recognising that Islamic and modestwear fashion can never be regionalised,” says Khan.

The editor-in-chief position is a rotating one and Khan plans to invite country managers from some of IFDC’s eight global offices – spanning from Canada, Russia and London to the UAE and South Africa – to guest-edit upcoming editions.

“There are many like-minded and intensely brilliant creative minds that I know of,” she says. “They will have a lot of flexibility and I want to give them free rein on how they deliver their issue but, of course, there are some parameters that are constants.”

Khan’s parameters include a worldwide focus on the modestwear apparel, accessories and beauty industry, never a myopic or domestic one.

She’s also interested in ­providing meaningful interviews and lifestyle news in addition to spiritual food for thought.

But that’s not to say that the digital magazine will be solely targeting a Muslim readership.

“This is not a religion-based thing at all,” she says.

“In ­Cover, there might be some references to spirituality and so on, but that’s a generic values-set I think everyone can relate to. No one should be alienated when it comes to a modest lifestyle or modest wear.

Cover really will try to speak with a voice that can be recognised by all, and while some may call it ‘Islamic dress’, there are actually many people in this space.”

Cover Magazine launches on Thursday, May 11, 2016. To subscribe, visit