SHAFAQNA – Amid growing number of hijabi Muslim women in Malaysia, the demand for stylish modest fashion is becoming bigger, with many looking to be more fashionable while wearing the Islamic headscarf.
“Choosing to cover up isn’t supposed to create more stress on women, and nor is it the climax of our spirituality,” Mimpikita head designer and founder, Nurul Zulkifli, told Malay Mail on Sunday, October 4.
The 33-year-old designer believes that the popular modest fashion in Malaysia helps veiled women to be fashionable which creates a niche market for entrepreneurs.
About five million Muslim Malaysian women wear the Islamic headscarf and dress modestly, According to Moslema In Style co-founder Emy Yuzliza Yahya.
“In our database, we have 500 hijab and Muslim fashion brands,” Emy Yuzliza, whose company organizes Islamic fashion shows, said.
Islamic fashion designers from the UK, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Brunei, Egypt and Indonesia will participate in the Moslema In Style Fashion Forward 2015 fashion show that will be held by Yuzliza Next November in Kuala Lumpur.
“Malaysia is more simple and modest,” she said.
The Global Islamic Economy 2014-2015 report by Reuters showed that Muslim consumers globally are expected to spend US$484 billion on Islamic clothing and footwear by 2019, up 82% from 2013.
Earlier this month, an advert for H&M has created lots of debates, after featuring the first Hijabi Muslim model in modest attire.
The advert is expected to bring new customers to the giant retailer, with regard to the fact that Muslims spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013, according to Thomson Reuters.
The lucrative modest industry appeals to non-Muslims too, offering comfortable and fashion designs.
“To me, when I design aere pieces, the most important aspect is that it must be comfortable, practical, versatile and of course stylish,” aere founder Raja Nadia Sabrina said.
“I usually play with a loose or relaxed fit, long sleeves and full length skirts and pants. These are designs that are hard to find currently, and that’s something I believe makes aere very attractive to people,” the 31-year-old fashion designer added.
Citing western designers and actresses who prefer modest clothes, Sabrine said: “So it’s not a Muslim-exclusive market. I’m also delighted to have received a lot of support in terms of non-Muslims wearing and buying aere pieces.
“aere pieces are designed to enable a lot of mixing and matching with what you already have in your wardrobe.”
Choosing more modern hijab trends, many young women prefer to wear long-sleeved blouses and full-length skirts instead of a jubah (a long loose Arabic robe).
“I feel it’s actually more fun because I get to play with more things — hijab, tops, accessories,” Dewi Dahlia said.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Malaysia has a population of nearly 26 millions, with Malays, mostly Muslims, making up nearly 60%.
Ethnic Chinese and Indians – most of them Buddhists, Hindus and Christians – make up about 35 percent.