A growing number of big-name designers are hoping to woo Muslim women with specially designed collections.
Think the Muslim market isnâ€™t interested in fashion? Check the numbers: Globally, Muslims spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013. Thatâ€™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 womenâ€™s fashion is still relatively untappedâ€”though perhaps not for long.
Several mainstream designers have started producing clothes and collections especially for Muslim women. Itâ€™s a trend that recognizes Islamâ€™s rapid growthâ€”Pew Research predicts that the number of Muslims in the world will equal that of Christians by 2050â€”along with its constituentsâ€™ impressive spending power.
Uniqlo is one retailer thatâ€™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 â€œa special modest-wear collection,â€ with no mention of Muslims or Ramadan. Lewis thinks thatâ€™s because Muslim-focused fashions can serve other cultures as well, as part of an emerging â€œmodesty movement.â€
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 Zaraâ€™s are available online, but only through the Middle Eastern versions of their websites.
â€œWhatâ€™s the point of having these Ramadan collections from these huge brands and huge designers if theyâ€™re only being made available to people overseas who are already well aware of Ramadan and inclusive of it?â€ Al-Khatahtbeh says. â€œReally, itâ€™s here in the U.S. or other Western countries where that kind of visibility would go a long way.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think theyâ€™re recognizing the potential of our demographic here,â€ she adds. â€œHonestly, thatâ€™s a huge loss for them because weâ€™re a virtually untouched market right now.â€