Retailers Widen Options, Including More Modest Clothes

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Monday, March 23, 2009

Retailers Widen Options, Including More Modest Clothes

According to a report from USA Today, the bad economy means good news for parents who have complained in recent years about the limited availability of modest clothing for their kids. It seems clothing retailers are responding to consumers by providing more clothes that can be worn in a variety of settings. These clothes tend to be more modest. Keep in mind that this does not reflect a change in values on the part of retailers. It's about their bottom-lines. But, at least for the time being, it's a positive change.

Modesty in young women's clothing is getting a boost from the dismal economy.

When consumer spending was in overdrive, retailers could sell to the masses and ignore the more muted voices asking for, say, a decent supply of sleeved shirts or prom dresses that show more fabric than skin.

Now, however, it's the rare retailer who's willing to take the chance of turning off any possible customer. Luxury-store clerks can no longer afford to look down at scruffy shoppers, and store owners of every sort are recognizing the one-size-fits-all approach to retail buying no longer works.

Whether it's more of a fiscal or moral shift, understated girls' clothing may indeed be making a comeback.

Even flashy Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld declared "bling is over" and noted the economy is prompting a "new modesty," in an interview with the International Herald Tribune this year.

Retail consultant Ken Nisch says the trend is more moderation than modesty, but the effect may be the same.

"It's not because of a moral revival but about sensibility," says Nisch, chairman of retail brand and design firm JGA. "What's provocative has often been ultra trendy, and it just doesn't make sense to buy things you can't wear for a lot of occasions anymore."

Source: USA Today