By Shelina Janmohamed, Vice President of Ogilvy Noor, the world’s only bespoke global consultancy for engaging with Muslim audiences

 

The modest fashion industry is growing year on year and is estimated at $484 billion globally. Ogilvy Noor Vice President Shelina Janmohamed went to find out what was happening at the recent London Modest Fashion Week and why big brands need to embrace the upcoming UK and global Muslim consumer market.

Can faith and fashion co-exist? The answer was an emphatic yes at last week’s London Modest Fashion Week. With star guest Lindsay Lohan sporting a black draped headscarf, hundreds of attendees in sartorial splendour and a catwalk running over two days with designers from around the world, it seems like faith has never been more stylish.

Big brands are paying attention. New York Fashion Week last year was walked by the latest global supermodel, hijab-wearing Halima Aden. The recent London Modest Fashion Week was sponsored by Tresemme. Marks and Spencers have soft launched a modest line. You can buy sports hijabs from Nike. Unipolar launched a LifeWear range in Malaysia created by a British-Japanese-Muslim designer.

Modest Fashion Weeks are being established around the world as a way to make the mark of the modest lifestyle on the wider global fashion industry. This is the third such event in London, but they have been running for much longer in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia where it is seen increasingly as a calendar fixture.

Muslim fashion is currently estimated at $484 billion and in addition to this there is a further $73 billion estimated in the cosmetics industry. Given how closely the two are linked in terms of product specification as well as lifestyle in the eyes of Muslim audiences, this is a space which is commercially hugely significant.

In particular, the ‘Generation M’ audience that we discuss at Ogilvy Noor is young. One third of the global Muslim population is under fifteen and two thirds are under thirty. And among this vast segment is Generation M, the young Muslims that believe faith and modernity go hand in hand together. Modest fashion has been created and championed by them as a way of upholding their faith principles as well as creating their own image and identity. The result is a generation that is claiming its own space in the fashion world while creating its own look and aesthetic.

Muslim consumers are always pleased to see themselves reflected on the high street but they complain that retailers don’t do nearly enough to engage with them. The UK Muslim population spends in excess of £20 billion every year. So the question is, what are the fashion brands going to do to engage?