The Rise of the #Billion Dollar #Muslim Fashion Industry – Muslims make-up the largest consumer market globally. Time to take-note.

The most expensive dress in the world was released on March 19 and attracted worldwide media coverage. Debbie Wingham’s diamond studded abbaya is the talk of Hollywood at $17m.

Designers such as Hermes, Aramis, Estée Lauder are the latest in-line of those to be inspired by Arabian inspiration and targeting Muslim markets. See Aramis – Calligraphy, or Christian Lacroix who have been integrating Arabic inspiration into the latest collections. We heard they are intrigued by the emphasis given to the design rather than the body of the woman. In many ways this isn’t dissimilar to the fashion of the old traditional English days where the body of the dress played a more important role than the body of the woman.

We are also seeing a new generation of highly-talented designers such as Elie Saab, Robert Abi Nader Abed Mahfouz, Walid Attalah, Essa from the UAE and others who continue to impress the international fashion world with their fusion of modern and Muslim-inspired elements into their ensembles. They are now the pieces of choice for celebrities with virtually every celebrity now owning an ‘Elie Saab’, it’s harder to think of one who doesn’t have an ‘Elie Saab’.Image

Each of the new creative works is reflective of the transition from plain and simple Arabic designs to more sophisticated creations that extensively use embroidered elements.

But it’s not just great designers who are making it to market, it’s the people and service industry behind this market that is going viral. Support services from Fashion incubators (Haute Arabia) to Fashion Shows are going viral.

Haute Arabia, the fashion incubator, a membership based e-commerce platform for promoting emerging designers and innovation in fashion with a social conscience may be the beginning but many incubation initiatives are commencing across the World – from Al Roudha Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Qatar) to the Hijab Fashion Week (October 22-27, 2013) (London) to Moscow Fashion Show (Islamic Style)  (June 13-17, 2013).

To those who disregard this as a passing trend and who believe the couture houses who have shown an interest in this industry are just ‘testing a new market’ – the facts tell a different story. If you’re wondering isn’t this whole Islamic inspired, modest and conservative, Muslim consumer just some small niche market? Note – Major misconception. The Muslim consumer alone – taking out only the countries who might also have preferences for Arabian or Islamic inspired design is no-longer off the mainstream.

The Muslim fashion industry is estimated to be worth $96 billion and is rapidly growing. The fuel behind this growth is a generation of young, confident, tech-savvy-more importantly-product conscious Muslims, who are embracing their faith and confidence. This awakening by Muslim consumers has certainly lifted the markets as we have seen an increase in young entrepreneurs catering for this demand. This is not sector specific but the fashion industry is one major Muslim consumer market of many in which we are seeing high innovation and exponential growth.

When we consider broader market interest from other countries including Israel and mainstream celebrities many of whom have been recently featured in many of the more modest trends from turbans to kaftans we can consider this market as much greater than figures suggest.

Fast Facts on the “Muslim Fashion Industry”

  • The fastest growing population at 1.8% per annum, the Muslim world population is at 2.1billion today equating to 30% of the world population;
  • The European Muslim population sits at approximately 53 million – one of our key markets;
  • World demand for Muslim fashion. If we only focus on women, we are talking about at least 800 million people.  And 40% of that that, or 320 million, is 25 years-old and under “the spending group”;
  • World market of Islamic fashion – The world Muslim fashion industry is estimated to be worth US$96 billion.  This is based on the assumption that half of the 1.6 billion Muslims each spend US$120 a year on modest clothing.
  • It was estimated that in the UK with 3 million Muslims, Muslim fashion industry would be worth between US$90 to 150 million a year.  At that rate, the 16 million Muslims in the EU, a potential clothing market can be valued at US$960 million to US$1.5 billion a year.
  • Some Arabian-style outfits can sell for as much as USD 10,000 and yet remain in high demand due to the robust economies of key markets such as the United Arab Emirates.
  • A Dubai-based company in fact sells abbayas costing between USD 1,500 to 10,000.
  • According to a recent study conducted by the French Fashion University Esmod- Dubia, the Middle East fashion sector is expected to post 15% growth in 2010.
  • The study foresees numerous opportunities in the $12bn Gulf clothing market, which is attracting more brands to the affluent and increasingly fashion-conscious region.
  • In recent years, the fashion industry has noticed an increasing growth and shift in fashion trend for Arabian inspired embellishments and couture. Designers including Valentino 2012, Elie Saab (2012), Hussein Chalayan (1998), Zuhair Murad, have all been inspired by Middle Eastern culture and religion.
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At Haute Arabia we know this is a transformation of the global fashion landscape and a trend that is here to stay.

At Haute Arabia we engage, capture, inspire and lead our members to create their own brand, or support emerging brands whilst offering them an to acquire their preferred fashion choices inspired by this conservatism and Arabian heritage from one source.

by Romanna Bint-Abubaker, CEO Haute Arabia

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One thought on “The Rise of the #Billion Dollar #Muslim Fashion Industry – Muslims make-up the largest consumer market globally. Time to take-note.

  1. Dear Johan,

    Many thanks for your feedback. Actually the reference to Arabic styles – is about Arabian heritage which inspires the dress. Since Arabian heritage was the heritage within which the religion and faith was born and generally encompasses the requirements of the faith of Islam – more conservative etc we would tend to disagree with your comment.

    The Musim fashion market is largely inspired by this Arabian heritage which is tightly intertwined with the faith.

    There are some designers who focus only on Arabian and not the conservative and that is certainly true. We see ourselves as seeking to try to focus primarily on the styles which cross the more Islamic influence and can be paired well/modified easily to create an Islamically suitable look.


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