These days sophisticated and fashion savvy Muslim women are demanding fashion that not only looks amazing but is modest. Leading this style platform is Alia Khan, Founder and Chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) who tells HEALTH about this burgeoning sector.
What is IFDC
Islamic fashion is evolving and with it are designers who are creating on-trend clothing for the savvy consumer. In 2014, Alia Khan identified the trend and as a result, set up the Islamic Fashion & Design Council (IFDC) in Dubai, a platform to service and supports the Islamic fashion sector and its designers. Khan elaborates that whether you’re an Italian designer or one from the GCC region, you can be sure there is a strong market waiting for you to fill if you can just understand this specific customer profile. “That’s where we come in, we help the industry players to understand this market better so they can avoid trial and error,” she explains.
According to Khan, Islamic or modest clothing is a global market. “The demand is everywhere and it cannot be contained to just one region, and as long as the worldwide Muslim population keeps growing as fast as it is, with the Muslim youth – under 30 – alone growing at twice the rate of any other population, then this market will only increase exponentially,” she says. “Muslim consumers spent USD $266 billion in 2013 and Thomson Reuters’ recent report on the Islamic economy pegged spending on Islamic clothing and footwear markets moving towards USD $484 billion by 2019.”
What it Means
Khan strongly states, “I’d like to be clear that we are not a religious organization, so really we are not here to define any parameters.” Generally speaking, she says that Islamic Fashion is fashion worn primarily by practicing Muslims who have committed to the Islamic principles of dressing. This means full sleeves, and full length; how people choose to interpret this is up to them. “There is also a secondary following of conservative consumers ranging from people of other faiths, modest consumers, and even celebrities who have traditionally felt that hijab-style look to be iconic for generations … as seen from the Grace Kelly era to Angelina Jolie,” she says.
Islamic fashion is driven by a strong demand for modest clothing by the ever growing consumer population, notes Khan. “The global Islamic fashion sector enjoys a strong trade foundation as well as a deep commitment from a Muslim population whose youth are not only growing at twice the pace of any other population, but also increasingly getting educated, pursuing careers, and businesses.” So they have a voice, spending power, and demands of how they want to live. Their biggest demand, she adds, is fashionable attire for all occasions that suits their modest parameters.
Who are some designers that are creating modest fashion? Khan states that there are many designers in this space, some of them being exceptionally talented. “It would be unfair to mention just two or three but it is interesting to note that we have designers from all over the world – from as far as Mexico, the US, Hungary, France, South Africa, Malaysia, Canada, the UK, China, India, Australia … you name the country, and we will most likely have an Islamic or modest fashion designer that hails from there who we are at least considering working with,” she says. “Of course, there is a lot of talent that is coming out of the Middle East, but it’s very heartening to see that this love of iFash™ is not simply a regional thing!”
Khan points out that bloggers are the new ads! “They have helped to drive the fashion industry in a direction that I doubt many people could even conceive, let alone action, a few years ago,” she says and because they provide an element of sincerity that general advertising just doesn’t present, they are here to stay … as long as they stay true “The iFash™ scene has received a tremendous boost from bloggers as these ‘online-artists’ have opened an avenue for communication that allows modest fashion seekers a way to view and try new styles and products, while still catering to their requirements for modesty,” she explains.
Undoubtedly, Khan point out that this market is blessed with the loyal consumer…they are committed on a Higher level, so if the creative can win this audience over they will have a customer for life. “For them, this is not a fad or passing trend; we have a ‘captive audience’ and they are not about to go away,” she says, if anything, their demands will only increase and the market will only grow over the years. “The only thing we have to remember is that they want to be stylish yet not compromise their Islamic lifestyle guided by modest parameters,” she explains.