A 2018 report by Grand View Research, Islamic Clothing Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Ethnic Wear, Sustainable Fashion, Sportswear), By Region (Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe), And Segment Forecasts, 2018 – 2025, showed exactly how big the modest clothing market has grown over the years. The report states the global Muslim fashion market estimated at US$59.7bil in 2017 is expected to witness a 5% compound annual growth rate in terms of revenue over the forecast period. Reasons driving this growth are said to be the increase in both preferences for modest clothing and the global Islamic population.
This news spells abundant opportunities for businesses who specialise in Muslim and modest clothing, as more Muslims are voicing out their needs and preferences through mass media for suitable and trendy clothing for daily living. As we look at the data, it is interesting to note that the top consumers for Muslim fashion is not confined to Muslim-majority countries only. The Grand View Research report divides major global Islamic clothing revenue into regions, namely:
North America – The United States
Europe – Turkey, Russia
Asia Pacific – Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, India
Middle East and Africa – The United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
RISING INTEREST WITH HEIGHTENED EXPOSURE
The rise in demand for Muslim fashion did not appear overnight, but through the increased exposure of modest clothing from consumers through social media. For example, Have Halal Will Travel, a lifestyle and travel platform for Muslims in Asia, published an article on 12 Muslimah Instagrammers You Need to Know for Modest Fashion Inspirations. Besides that, several modest fashion shows have been held in cities across the globe, from Miami to Accra, Moscow and Milan in 2019.
Such media exposure and bourgeoning sales of modest fashion have caused investors to take notice of the modest fashion market. The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/20 lists how online modest fashion retailer Modanisa sold a minority stake estimated at US$15mil to Goldman Sachs and Wamda Capital to fund expansion, Dubai-based online retailer The Modist attracted investment from British e-commerce fashion site Farfetch and Annabel Investment Holding, and New York fashion brand Haute Hijab secured US$2.3mil in financing to create the first digital native Muslim cultural lifestyle brand across the globe.
The diaspora of Muslims throughout the world have also played a role in further exposure while upping demands for modest fashion to be sold in their countries of residence. This is especially for Muslims in countries of high purchasing power such as the UK, US and Canada where local fashion houses are not able to cater to the national demand. England just surpassed its 3 million mark for the Muslim population this year, while US and Canada has 3.45 million Muslims and over 1 million Muslims respectively. These numbers are expected to rise in the next decade, foreshadowing the skyrocketing demand of imported Muslim-friendly products from other countries.
UNDERSTANDING POTENTIAL MARKETS
That said, the time is ripe to explore and venture into the global modest fashion market. Spire Research and Consulting explains the reasons some countries show great potential for the modest fashion market in a 2019 report, Modest wear – Fashion wakes up to modesty. Let us take a closer look at some of the major consumers of Muslim fashion and why SMEs should consider this field as a next business venture.
With a Muslim population of 170 million and counting, there is high demand for modest wear from Indian Muslims, especially from the urban, younger and more brand-conscious demographic. Indian Muslims spent about US$11bil on clothing in 2015 and the industry has an annual market growth rate of 13%.
Although it has a small Muslim community of 70,000 to 150,000 people, the Japan Muslim Fashion Association believes there is great potential for Muslim fashion exporters in Japan as “modest” fashion gels well with Japanese culture.
Home to largest Muslim population in the world at 222 million Muslims, Indonesia is undoubtedly one of the largest consumers of modest fashion. The Muslimah fashion industry is varied and vast as well, a great invitation for modest fashion businesses to offer their products to the country’s consumers. For example, the hijab market in Indonesia can be divided into three segments – a simple and practical veil, the shariah veil and the fashionable veil. These pieces are worn by Indonesian Muslim women of all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
With a population of 200 million people and 95% of them Muslims, Pakistan has yet to see the boom in the modest fashion market. However, it has been observed to be rising along with Pakistan’s fashion retail industry. According to the founder of Rabia Z, one of the pioneers of modest fashion, Pakistan is among the top 10 consumer markets where people like to spend on apparels. Hence, it can be expected that if modest fashion labels were to penetrate the market, we can expect them to become household names in the country.
Malaysia is seeing a growing trend of hijab wearers among Muslim women and has emerged as one of the global trendsetters in modest wear. Local brands such as Naelofar and dUCk Hijab are among the key players leading the modest wear charge in Malaysia.
There is an increase in consumer numbers who show interest in contemporary concepts with a touch of modesty to suit their modern lifestyles. Many modest fashion suppliers such as Dubai Borka have introduced dramatic new styles to fulfil consumer needs of colourful and stylish modest fashion products.
CHALLENGES WITH EVERY VENTURE
Muslim or modest fashion is growing and thriving in this era. However, like any industry, there are challenges to be faced in this competitive market space. From awareness in creating proper modest and religious clothing designs to understanding the individual needs and preferences of modest fashion clientele, the modest fashion industry must also persuade buyers that its products are of good quality, fashionable and have value for money.
The modest wear industry is also faced with another challenge pertaining to culture. There is still a longstanding stereotype that modest wear consumers embody archaic practices that oppress women, bringing up the argument of freedom versus oppression. However, the rise of modest wear as a fashion trend is challenging these stereotypical views. Modern Muslim women are showcasing how women can be independent in making choices, including the personal choice to be modest in their everyday lives.