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A fashion statement was recently made in Dubai. It had no revealing dresses nor models on catwalks.
“We did away with the catwalk. We thought that was one of the most antiquated things,” Alia Khan, chairwoman of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), said.
Italian designer Isabella Caposanno’s creations featured long-sleeved evening dresses and ‘Under-Rapt’ offered modest sportswear, with longer, looser tops to give extra cover to the rear and front, while Blue Meets Blue from the US, presented “classy, timeless and elegant” formal wear
“Modest fashion comes in so many different ways and I think people tend to pigeon-hole it and stereotype it,” Khan said. “Designers are come from all walks of life and all have their own interpretation.”
Malaysia has long been a trailblazer in the modest Muslim wear industry which has an estimated $2.6 trillion global sales, said Vivy Yusof, a designer and businesswoman who heads her brand ‘dUCk’ from Malaysia.
“I think it’s really funny that now modest fashion is booming so much, because that’s how we’ve been dressing for ages”.
The 30-year-old and her husband co-founded ‘Fashion Valet’, an e-commerce website in Malaysia that features more than 400 South Asian designers, many of them selling modest collections. Yusof said that since launching the site eight years ago, her business had grown 100 percent annually.
Modest wear is still a niche market, but some mainstream designers and retailers are trying to get into it.
US retailer Macy’s earlier launched a clothing line targeting Muslim women, which included “ruffled high-neck tunics, flowy jumpsuits and bell-sleeve ankle length cardigans”. Nike has worked on a hijab line for female Muslim athletes. US fashion house DKNY has launched a line for Ramadan, the holy month, when Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown. High-end label Dolce & Gabbana has released a collection of headscarves and coordinated Abayas, the long and flowing coverings worn by Arab women.
The growth areas for Muslim fashion are the emerging markets of Asia, with sales expected to rise by 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year.