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A Bold Case for Modesty: Is Pakistan Benefiting from the Multi Billion Dollar Modest Fashion Industry?

Dubai: Fashion for women observing the hijab, termed “modest fashion”, has witnessed a global rise in the last decade. Although modest fashion has been around since the beginning of time, it has entered the mainstream fashion industry in the last five years.

The modest fashion industry is worth a whopping $322 billion industry globally, according to State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, produced by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with Dinar Standard.

At an event focused on modest fashion, Deputy CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Center Saeed Kharbash said in an exclusive with ARY that “modest fashion is one of the most important three pillars of the Islamic economy.”

Major international brands are turning their attention specifically to cater to women observing the hijab. Marc Jacobs presented a combination of headscarf and hats in his 2012 spring collection. DKNY created an entire capsule collection centered around Ramadan. Givenchy, Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de La Renta are some other worldwide designers that have presented fashion for women wearing the headscarf.

Turkey, London and Dubai have all hosted modest fashion weeks featuring hijabi models walking down the runway.

Dubai’s Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) is headed by Pakistani Alia Khan, who aims to widen the reach of modest fashion around the world. In an interview with ARY News, Khan said: “If the modest fashion industry was a country, it would be ranked number three after U.S. and China.”

But while modest fashion is on the rise globally, it seems as if Pakistan has dropped the ball on this particular niche within the fashion industry. Considering the large number of Pakistani women that wear hijab, both overseas and domestically, it is surprising that there aren’t more designers catering to the modest fashion niche in Pakistani markets, and that women wearing the hijab hardly get any representation.

Jazba Ali is a London-based Pakistani blogger who has founded “Modest Fashion Pakistan.” In an interview with ARY News, Ali says: “Modest Fashion Pakistan was found with the purpose of showcasing the everyday Pakistani woman that doesn’t have a team of stylists around her. The representation of women wearing the hijab in Pakistani media and fashion magazines is non-existent.”

Although Pakistani fashion and our traditional attire is modest in nature, the demands of someone wearing the hijab are unique.

Consider, for instance, these international brands that have catered specifically to the hijab-wearing segment of the fashion industry. Mattel launched its first hijabi Barbie last year; American department store giant Macy’s announced that it will be launching a clothing line targeted specifically to Muslim women, and hijabs will be a part of it; Nike created a sportswear hijab catered specifically for the needs of female athletes; popular high street brand H&M featured a hijabi model in its campaign, singer Rihanna featured a hijabi model in her iconic Fenty Beauty ad and a hijabi model walked down the runway at New York Fashion Week for Kanye West’s 2017 collection.

Khan is determined to bring the focus on modest fashion to Pakistan. In fact, she says, “Pakistan is a very special market for modest fashion. The concept of modest fashion is already there, it just has to be implemented and the exposure and representation [for hijabis] will surely follow.”

IFDC has already initiated its projects in Pakistan, and Khan promises an exciting spin for this particular segment of the fashion industry. Just as well, bearing in mind that Muslim consumer spending on clothing is expected to reach $368 billion by 2021 worldwide, a 51% increase from 2015. It would bode well for Pakistani designers to capitalize on this lucrative segment of the fashion industry.


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