A growing number of big-name designers are hoping to woo Muslim women with specially designed collections.
Think the Muslim market isn’t interested in fashion? Check the numbers: Globally, Muslims spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013. That’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 women’s fashion is still relatively untapped—though perhaps not for long.
Several mainstream designers have started producing clothes and collections especially for Muslim women. It’s a trend that recognizes Islam’s rapid growth—Pew Research predicts that the number of Muslims in the world will equal that of Christians by 2050—along with its constituents’ impressive spending power.
“Globally, the Muslim population is a youthful and growing demographic,” says Reina Lewis, professor of cultural studies at London College of Fashion UAL and author of the forthcoming book Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures. “This makes Muslims a very important consumer segment for anything.”
“The market for Islamic commodities started out looking at food and finance,” she adds. “I’ve been saying for the last few years that fashion is going to be the third F—and this is indeed what is beginning to happen.”
DKNY went first, unveiling a women’s capsule collection for Ramadan last year. Tommy Hilfiger launched its own Ramadan capsule collection this June, and fashion designers, manufacturers and retailers including Net-a-Porter, Zara, Oscar de la Renta and Mango are currently offering lines specially themed for the holiday as well. A Mango rep says the Barcelona-based company is pleased with how well the Ramadan collection is selling, noting that Arab-speaking countries made up 5% of the company’s sales last year.
The emphasis on Ramadan comes from its increasing status as a shopping holiday among Muslim communities. While Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founding editor-in-chief ofMuslimGirl.net, says that designers are in a sense “cashing in on Ramadan—for the other 11 months of the year, we really don’t hear anything from these companies or brands,” she also likens the Ramadan fashion collections to Christmas- or Hanukkah-themed ones.
“There are times of year about specific groups of people, and it’s cool for us to be included in that,” she says. “We see fashion designers giving a nod toward the Muslim community [with these Ramadan collections]: We understand this is your month.”
The question is whether designers will eventually target Muslim shoppers beyond their annual holy month.
Shelina Janmohamed thinks so, and as vice president of the Muslim-focused brand consultancy Oglivy Noor, she has researched the subject extensively.
“It’s easy to understand why designers have gone for Ramadan,” she says. “But actually, it’s the rest of the year that’s really important to these consumers and young Muslim women. I think brands are going to have to start developing [year-round] lines for this audience.”
Uniqlo is one retailer that’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 “a special modest-wear collection,” with no mention of Muslims or Ramadan. Lewis thinks that’s because Muslim-focused fashions can serve other cultures as well, as part of an emerging “modesty movement.”
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 Zara’s are available online, but only through the Middle Eastern versions of their websites.
“What’s the point of having these Ramadan collections from these huge brands and huge designers if they’re only being made available to people overseas who are already well aware of Ramadan and inclusive of it?” Al-Khatahtbeh says. “Really, it’s here in the U.S. or other Western countries where that kind of visibility would go a long way.”
“I don’t think they’re recognizing the potential of our demographic here,” she adds. “Honestly, that’s a huge loss for them because we’re a virtually untouched market right now.”
But Janmohamed is optimistic that designers will soon expand their new Muslim-focused collections to Western stores. She says it was “almost unheard of” to find Muslim fashions in the mainstream five years ago. “Within five years, we’ve seen it go from something talked about to something designers are actually marketing,” she says. “The growth curve has been escalating faster and faster.”
read more: black formal dresses
I admit I'm reallllly late to the Caitlyn Jenner coverage party, category: fashion. I had a lot going on in the wedding department in June, and my first chance to read the Vanity Fair profile of Jenner by Buzz Bissinger was on the plane and en route to our honeymoon destination.
My first thought was man, what a good story! Bissinger spent months embedded with Jenner and interviewed as many family members as possible for a complex picture. Then, as I looked at the photos of Jenner in sparkly and form-fitting gowns, something else came to mind: Hey, I could wear this dress. And this one. And not in a "could physically put it on in my size if they have it" kind of way, but an "I could buy this experience for myself for a special occasion" way.
Jenner wore an all-over gold sequin Badgley Mischka dress with cap sleeves and an open back for part of the shoot. This dress retails for $610 at Lord & Taylor. Gross, BUT!
You can rent it for $120 or $90, depending on your size and the shade of gold. I know this because I am a recovering late-night Rent the Runway dress-browsing addict, and I considered this exact dress for one of my bridesmaid's dresses about 800 times.
I love that Jenner chose something beautiful but accessible — even if she didn't realize it.
Next we have Jenner's bronze Halston Heritage dress with a plunging neckline.
It has a $595 retail value, according to Rent the Runway. But you can rent what appears to be a darker version of the sexy gown, called the Elvira, for $100.
Glamour has more about where to buy her other ensembles here.
What do you think? Would you pay a fraction of a price for your own Vanity Fair moment? Do you envy my evil eye for Rent the Runway looks?
read more:short formal dresses
Kimono cover-ups are the trend right now and can brighten up any outfit in a jiffy.
"Pair a printed floral kimono with a monotone outfit like a pair of black shorts and a white strap top and instantly dress it up a notch!
Kimonos mostly come in free sizes and suit all body types," says designer Avni Aneja.
You can also go for bell-sleeve tops. Similar to crop tops, these have exaggerated sleeves for that extra flair of drama. You can pair them with shorts, pencil skirts and even fitted trousers. It is extremely versatile and, therefore, can be worn by most body types in different styles.
For example, if you are conscious about your thighs and prefer wearing jeans to shorts, you could pair a bell sleeve top with a plain or printed jeans and if you want to dress it up a bit, you could pair it with a pencil skirt.
People with broader shoulders and heavier arms can also wear this.
The coolest way to wear black as the temperature reaches its peak is to go sheer.
"Black, as you know, absorbs the most amount of heat and traps it in leaving you feeling hot and uncomfortable. Sheer fabrics are breathable and are available in lots of gorgeous varieties in georgette, lace, net and other fabrics," says Tamanna Singh.
Pick net outfits if you want your look to be edgy - floral, lacey maxi dresses for boho-chic and flowy georgettes for an ultra-feminine look.
Aneja says, "Pair a sheer skirt with a printed crop top and a pair of stilettos for a fun evening out or dress it down with a plain white shirt and a good watch for a more formal look."
*Less is more
Make it a thumb rule to pick short clothes while opting for solid black in this heat. If too short is not your style then try a length that suits your comfort level. You can try shorter sleeves and higher hemlines than usual.
Ditch your pair of staple black pants for the cool and comfy culottes and make them your new staple for this season. Lightweight cotton and linen are the perfect fabrics to choose for solid black. Even black culottes worn with a crisp white shirt can be a classic look to carry in the office.
"All said and done, a head to toe black look is a complete turn-off. Pair it up with something colourful. For instance, if you are wearing a shirt dress, break the monotony with a printed scarf. Steer clear of black body cons," says designer Chhaya Mehrotra.
Playsuits and jumpsuits are staples. You can dress up or dress down a floral playsuit as you like. Pair it with a cute pair of metallic shoes for the day and with ankle strap heels and a light blazer in a solid colour for an evening look.
For jumpsuits, go for the ones which have lace details.
Aneja says, "For a bohemian look, pair it up with a lace or Aztec printed headband. To dress it up, wear a pair of statement earrings, wedges and a sleek clutch. Just remember, all your jumpsuits/playsuits should be grazing the ankle."
How to wear black according to body type
Black tends to make you look slimmer so focus on the area you are trying to balance out. Pick black tops and shirts if you are top heavy and black shorts, skirts and culottes, if you are bottom heavy.
Singh says, "Maxi tops and dresses will suit lean figures. Flare dresses will look great on petite frames. Hourglass shaped can go for shift dresses. Overlays and kimonos work for all body types and particularly well for round body shapes."
Saiba and Maneet of Voiix say, "A black A-Line skirt for the leggy bombshell can do wonders. If you have a heavy bottom then a black tunic top or black shirt worn with colourful tights or pastel pant would look amazing. Just make sure your shirt is not tucked in. Women with heavy top can go for black off-shoulder top or a kimono top. Both will make your upper body look slimmer."
read more:vintage formal dresses