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Modest fashion is by far an oxymoron, but has attracted investors like Goldman Sachs and retailers like Zara. It is a youthful industry and contains all the characteristics of every other trend: influencers, YouTube Shopping and fast-growing businesses.
The industry is supported by women – many of them Muslims – whose beliefs mean they want to cover it. But looser waistbands, longer hem and less gaping armholes find wardrobe elsewhere. Older women and the people who work at home are buyers. Fashion trends embrace longer hemlines anyway: searches for maxi and midi dresses are four to fivefold this year on John Lewis’ website. BIAH, a British supplier of abayas and other modest wear, has a ‘curve conscious’ range. The sunshine welcomes high necklines.
Early market entrants include Modanisa, a Turkish e-commerce platform that has won praise from bearers and capital from Goldman Sachs and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Aab – the name comes from the Persians for water – is another, starting with the germ of an idea in 2009. It is now sold in the house of central England, John Lewis.
This is a trend that no fashion supplier wants to ignore. Retailers such as H&M, the e-commerce website Asos and even sportswear manufacturers are targeting the Muslim pound. Nike introduced its swimming hijab in 2017. Speedo has swimsuits for boys and other modest versions. Bought Innovacia from Malaysia Hairdressers, the self-proclaimed manufacturer of the original sports hijab, in 2019.
It is certainly an industry that is far removed from the difficult popularity of technology. Venture capital increases and M&A usually involve amounts that are too small to even disclose. Growth rates are nothing spectacular. DinarStandard, in its latest state of the global Islamic economy report, proposes a compound annual growth rate of only 2.4 percent for five years.
This is about a third of the rate estimated for the broader global fast-fashion market, based on the Business Research Company’s forecasts, and even further below the expected growth for the broader clothing market.
There is little accurate data on market size. The generally listed $ 277 billion significantly overestimates actual consumption, but rather reflects the core responsible spending of the Muslim consumer market in the clothing category — a very different matter. Some contestants struggled in the more demanding world of fast fashion. Asos se cooperation with a modest wear brand, Verona was of short duration.
Yet niche brands do make waves. Aab’s privately owned sales are a fifth so far this year, compared to the same period in 2019. More competition – and consolidation – seems inevitable.
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