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Muslimah Fashion: The Next Big Thing In The International Market

in Latest/Woman

A growing number of big-name designers are hoping to woo Muslim women with specially designed collections.

Think the Muslim market isn’t interested in fashion? Check the numbers: Globally, Muslims spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013. That’s more than the total fashion spending of Japan and Italy combined, according to a recent report from Thomson Reuters. The report also notes that that figure is expected to balloon to $484 billion by 2019.

And yet industry watchers say the market for Muslim women’s fashion is still relatively untapped—though perhaps not for long.

Several mainstream designers have started producing clothes and collections especially for Muslim women. It’s a trend that recognizes Islam’s rapid growth—Pew Research predicts that the number of Muslims in the world will equal that of Christians by 2050—along with its constituents’ impressive spending power.

Two prominent members of the Middle Eastern fashion community — Dubai-based designer Tamara Al Gabbani teamed up with DKNY for the Ramadan 2014 collection.

Uniqlo is one retailer that’s going in that direction. The Japanese clothing company launched a new Hana Tajima LifeWear collection on July 3, available in certain Singapore stores and online. Tajima, a Muslim fashion blogger, created loose blouses, skirts and dresses for the new collection, along with more traditional kebaya and hijab.

But Uniqlo describes Hana Tajima as “a special modest-wear collection,” with no mention of Muslims or Ramadan. Lewis thinks that’s because Muslim-focused fashions can serve other cultures as well, as part of an emerging “modesty movement.”

The other question is whether these Muslim-oriented collections will reach Western stores. DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and Oscar de la Renta offered their capsules exclusively in the Middle East. Mango and Zara’s are available online, but only through the Middle Eastern versions of their websites.

“What’s the point of having these Ramadan collections from these huge brands and huge designers if they’re only being made available to people overseas who are already well aware of Ramadan and inclusive of it?” Al-Khatahtbeh says. “Really, it’s here in the U.S. or other Western countries where that kind of visibility would go a long way.”

“I don’t think they’re recognizing the potential of our demographic here,” she adds. “Honestly, that’s a huge loss for them because we’re a virtually untouched market right now.”

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