“Socio-economic and political developments, aided by the connectivity of the Internet, have galvanised a newly emergent Muslim consumer demographic, creating significant, if complex, opportunities for international fashion brands” (Mellery-Prat, The Business of Fashion, 2014)
Modern, tech-savvy, Muslim women worldwide have been considered as an untapped market in several global economic reports for the past few years. However, a recent campaign of sustainable fashion released by H&M tapping a hijab-wearing model sends a subtle signal that the industry is changing. The appearance of headscarved Mariah Idrissi in H&M’s short film Close the Loop is setting a precedent for diversity in fashion, where also included in the characters are plus-sized models, a group of Sikh men and an amputee model. Although the future is unknown, H&M’s bold take on their fashion campaign is still a breath of fresh air in the global fashion scene, in which people are increasingly demanding for inclusivity.
|Wearing a Palembang songket to the WIEF 2015 Gala Dinner in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Malaysia|
|A closer look at the songket|
WIEF 2015 shed light on this emerging movement by featuring a specialized segment for fashion themed as “Islamic Fashion: New Trends, New Market”. I am honored to be invited as one of the panelists along with other key players in Islamic fashion industry such as Alia Khan (IFDC, CEO), Melanie El-Turk (CEO, Haute Hijab) and Zulfiye Tufa (thehijabstylist, blogger and designer) and engaged in a very intriguing conversation on this fast-growing industry.
|Sitting as a panelist at the session "Islamic Fashion: New Trends, New Market"|
|(right to left) Alia Khan, Melanie El-Turk, Zulfiye Tufa, Dian Pelangi|
|Being interviewed by TV 3 Malaysia right after presenting at the session|
|With other delegates at the WIEF 2015|
Our diverse backgrounds –Alia from the UAE, Melanie from the USA, Zulfiye from Australia and I from Indonesia—significantly contributed to add depth and relevance to the topic. Based in Dubai, Alia took notice of the industry’s fragmentation, and claim a further step forward is to create a sense of unity in both producers and consumers parts without losing their region’s distinctive legacy in fashion. Growing up as Muslim-minority in western countries, Melanie and Zulfiye emphasize the importance of people all over the world to give a more balanced representation of Islam and Muslim in order for the industry to thrive and tackle the issues of Islamophobia and ethnocentrism.
|(right to left) With Melanie, Zulfiye and Tasneem Chopra at the 11th WIEF 2015's Gala Dinner|
|Post-event picture: with fellow delegates and my KL-based friends at a lovely cafe, Wondermilk|
Additionally, from what I have observed from my business trips and travels to some countries, I think in terms of aesthetics and couture, Islamic fashion is undergoing new adjustment in a global market and what is apparent in this adjustment is a re-articulation of global and local trends which often involves a strong component of re-invention. This tendency can become the basis for the upcoming trends; trends of transnationally-oriented fashion that require a creative mingling of styles with Western, Eastern and Islamic vibes.
So in general Islamic fashion is going towards the world and waiting to be part of those who seek for understated elegance and sophistication in everything they wear. This fashion segment is not exclusively Islamic, however, improved images of Islam across the globe would significantly help its growth. All in all, Islamic fashion industry is gleaming with excitement and effervescence of the Muslim communities for their voices and aspirations to reach a new timbre in the mainstream society of the world. And this has been captured by world’s most popular retailers such as H&M, Mango, Zara and Uniqlo.