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Jewish woman says modesty spans religions and cultures, launches modest online marketplace
Clothing featured on include dresses, tops, skirts, swimsuits and head coverings. - photo by Sarah Sanders Petersen
Nava Brief-Fried is passionate about fashion and design, but most of all, she's passionate about helping women find modest clothing. That's why she created a modest marketplace for women around the world.

Twenty-four-year-old Brief-Fried grew up in a Jewish family and has lived in Israel since she was 4. In keeping with her religious standards and her own preferences, Brief-Fried has dressed modestly throughout her life. Because it has been difficult for her to find fashionable clothes that meet her standards, Brief-Fried created ModLi, a modest marketplace for designers and consumers.

"I know that 'modesty' is a word that is used often, and everybody defines themselves as modest in a different way," Brief-Fried said.

While building, Brief-Fried focused on features that would set her clothing site apart from other retailers. The ModLi website, which launched Jan. 19, allows customers to sort clothing based not only on price, color, size and designer but also by skirt length, sleeve length and necklines.

"Were like the Etsy for modest fashion, except for the fact that its really important to us that our boutiques are high quality and their items are high quality," Brief-Fried said.

Modest designers from around the world have applied to sell their apparel on the website, and if approved, their products appear in the filtered searches and on their own page in the Designer section of the site.

ModLi has 25 designers who supply clothing, many of whom live in Israel and the United States.

"Our purpose is to create a community of women and to make people feel like theyre not alone in this thing," Brief-Fried said. "There really are millions of women who dress modestly, millions of women, whether for religious reasons or for other reasons. A lot of women dress modestly, and they have to feel good about it, and I think thats where we come in."

Before launching ModLi, Brief-Fried worked for another company that sells modest apparel, something she thought only Jewish customers would be attracted to, but she soon realized that modest fashion has an international and intercultural appeal. This appeal inspired her to create a modest marketplace that would bring women from all cultures and religions together.

"I realized that most of our customers werent Jewish," Brief-Fried said. "They were Mormon or Christian and even Muslims that were buying from us, and we created this crazy community from women all over who kind of believe in the same thing. I think its a beautiful thing that we can do something like that around modesty and fashion because its something that is so important to so many women."

Part of Brief-Fried's purpose in creating ModLi is to remind women and girls that choosing modesty, no matter how it is defined, is commendable.

"Modesty is not a negative thing," Brief-Fried said. "Its a positive thing. Were trying to change how people feel about modesty. I think today, in our time, when everything is so immodest and so the opposite, I think people are really thirsty and they really want and are really looking for modesty."

Noa Vider is a designer from Israel who sells her fashion accessories on ModLi. Vider, 37, is a mother of three and runs a small business. It was because of ModLi's goals and the website's ability to reach a wide audience that Vider chose to feature her products there.

"I frequently hear from my friends and customers how hard it is to find shops and designers that focus on modest fashion and still make beautiful, timeless clothing," Vider said. "I know ModLi will be the home for all modest fashionistas around the world."

For Brief-Fried, modesty is about more than hemlines and sleeves.

"Its a value," Brief-Fried said. "Its not always about how. In Judaism, a lot of times, modesty is perceived as something where you have to wear (clothes) exactly to your elbow and exactly to your collarbone, you have to cover your knees, and sometimes the focus is just wrong. Once you believe that its your lifestyle and thats your value, then it will reflect automatically by the way you dress. The way you dress will reflect those values."