The historical showing at the NYFW(New York Fashion Week) this year by Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan, a first for any Indonesian, placed into focus the growth and rise of the Islamic fashion market. A market that has seen exponential growth over recent years.
To get a perspective on the size of the Muslimah fashion world, consider that over $44 billion was spent over 2015/16 on Islamic modest fashion. A number that, according to a report co-commissioned by Reuters, will reach $368 billion by 2021. This is greater than the combined market of France, Germany, and Italy. A large number by any measure. It is no surprise then that the mainstream haute-couture fashion labels have been attracted to chasing a share of this market. The likes of which include Dolce and Gabbana, Prada and Tommy Hilfiger.
It is however in the Islamic world where the larger share will be fought over, and in this context South East Asia is well placed to be a dominant player. A big Muslim population, the largest of any region in the world, combined with a growing middle class, has resulted in a strong appetite for modest fashion. The aforementioned Anniesa Hasibuan is already one designer that has successfully catered to this. Nadya Karina, Istafiana Candarini and Afina Candarini, the founders of Kami Idea, and also from Indonesia, have reached similar heights. Not only at home, but in their exports to Singapore and Brunei as well. The Indonesian government has backed this trend and set a goal for the country to be a global Islamic fashion hub by 2020. An ambitious goal indeed, but a definite statement of intent. Malaysia, their Muslim neighbours, are also growing. Naelofar, the most popular brand in Malaysia, registered RM50 million in sales in 2015, with 10% of those sales coming from international customers. An eyebrow raising figure, considering the young nature of the label.
The internet has no doubt contributed in large part to the spread of modest fashion in South East Asia, particularly the skillful use of social media. It is in this that the region already lead the way. Naelofar counts over 3.8 million Instagram followers, and 1.6 million on twitter. Indonesian labels boast similar numbers. Fashion weeks also both in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta are increasing in quality and internet focus year on year. The internet has also allowed local boutique brands, of which "by Lynn Andres" Penang is one, to flourish by reaching wider audiences.
Whichever way you look at it, this train is well on it's journey and doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The excitement for the industry however, especially in South East Asia, seems to have just begun. Watch this region... I mean space.
Jeffrey Andres is Founder and Managing Director of Lynn Andres Scarf Penang. A Malaysian boutique Scarf label based in Penang, Malaysia. After carving out a niche online over the last year, both in Malaysia and internationally, Lynn Andres will officially launch their first flagship store in Georgetown, Penang, in May 2017. www.lynnandres.com