Stylish, contemporary clothing for women that isn’t bandage tight and cut up to here and down to there? Definitely a welcome concept. So hurrah for Zahra Aljabri and her new Minneapolis-based business.
But no cheers for the name: Mode-sty.
Yes, it’s hyphenated. Yes, that second syllable means an enclosure for pigs.*
It gets worse.
Silly typography tricks.
According to the TechCrunch post in which I first learned about Mode-sty, the name is meant to be pronounced mōd-stee: two syllables, with a long vowel in each syllable. (I couldn’t find this pronunciation guide on the Mode-sty site.**)
Here’s the bad news: The macron over the O and the gray-shaded “esty” won’t save this name from mispronunciation. In fact, they may contribute to it: I’d want to say “mode-ES-tee.” Or I’d just say “Modesty,” which is where the name came from—but which is too drab to suggest the sparkly, luxurious clothing on display.
There is no “correct” pronunciation of a mark because it is impossible to predict how the public will pronounce a particular mark; therefore, “correct” pronunciation cannot be relied on to avoid a likelihood of confusion.
Section 1207.01(b)(iv); emphasis added. Thanks to trademark lawyer Jessica Stone Levy for that excerpt.
In Mode-sty we have a promising business idea with a huge potential audience: not just women with religious restrictions on their clothing choices but all women who prefer to dress conservatively. All it lacks is an evocative, non-descriptive name that could speak to this audience, suggesting style, strength, and the kind of self-assurance that doesn’t depend on flaunting flesh.
As “Mode-sty,” though, the business just looks like the smellier, messier division of Dress Barn.
* Allow me to suggest that if your founder is a Muslim woman—as is Mode-sty’s Zahra Aljabri—you might want to avoid names that could evoke haraam animals.
** The website looks like a blank page until you scroll down to reveal the content. Another misguided idea.