The world of fashion constantly witnesses something new from time to time. A new term has been coined in the history of fashion, and from the looks of it, it is here to stay! The term is Muslim fashion. Islamic revivalist movement insisted its men and women to dress modestly and religiously. But during the 1980s and 1990s, as the movement started getting heterogeneous, the covered styles of dressing began to transform into more fashionable styles. This led to the coinage of a new term Islamic or Muslim fashion in the global fashion industry. Turkey was one of the first to enter this market. During the 1990s, fashion shows displaying this trend started getting popular all over the world (instead of being limited to a few Asian countries), and today this concept is acknowledged all over the world.
It is a fusion of faith and fashion. Today, one can find designer Burqas (fully covered clothes with only a mesh screen before the eyes as opening), Hijabs (a scarf that leaves the face uncovered), and Niqabs (face veils that leave a slight opening near the eyes), and fashionable clothes for Muslim men like designer Pathanis (a knee length top with loose bottom wear), Bisht (Arabic cloak), and Kufis (rounded cap) in the market. They not only comply with the rules of Islamic dressing, but also provide a style statement to the wearer. These fashionable outfits are especially in demand amongst the Muslims residing in western countries, who also want to look trendy along with religious. These outfits are available in various designs and colors, and made of exotic material to add to the charm of the wearer.
Muslim women can be seen in traditional wears like Burqas, Paranjas, Chadors, and Abayas. All of these clothing varieties are just slightly different to each other. They are loose fitted clothes that cover their entire body. Those out of these, that do not cover the head, require a veil or Niqaab to be worn in addition. Indonesian and Pakistani women are normally seen in Tudongs and Dupattas respectively. Tudongs are fully covered clothes that leave the face open. They are a formal wear for women in Indonesia. Pakistani women wear long scarves called dupattas (without any color restrictions) along with Salwar Kameez. The most popular of all Muslim men's clothing is the Thawb a long robe that is up to the ankle-length, worn in Iraq and the Gulf countries. Men in Arab countries can also be seen wearing a Bisht on top of the Thawb. It is accompanied by a headwear called Igal.
There is a special attachment in the mind of the wearer with regards to these outfits. Though they have invoked controversies in other parts of the world, but their demand has not reduced in the world market. In fact, Muslim men and women now have various choices available with them. Recent surveys indicate that the demand for Islamic clothes keeps rising by 20 percent every year on an average. The market for Islamic clothing is huge in Asia, i.e. around $58 billion. Indonesia, followed by Malaysia, exports the most number of Muslim clothes in the world. Other textile giants are also looking forward to make their mark in the Islamic clothing exports industry owing to its increasing demand in the world market.
Abayas and Chadors have attained world-wide attention. Fashion designers all over the world have modified their traditional look and made it a fashionable outfit. High fashion that Muslim women can access comprise of a combination of short sleeved robe and full sleeved jacket designed by Muslim and Non-Muslim designers, paired with a headscarf. They enhance the glamour quotient of an Islamic woman and still retain the 'modest' element in the outfit. This is, especially, popular among the rich and elite Muslim women in western and gulf countries that need to abide by Islamic laws of dressing and can also afford luxury at the same time. The Muslim fashion industry is estimated to be worth $96 billion as of today, and is growing continuously.
Islamic fashion is not just limited to a Muslim dominated country or region, but is prevalent all over the world. There are a number of Muslim fashion designers who have made a mark in the global fashion industry. Naeem Khan, Elie Saab, and Walid Atallah are some of the most renowned names in the fashion industry whose creations have been worn by celebrities and first ladies. These designers had a traditional upbringing and went to western countries for studies. This gave them an exposure of both the cultures, which helped them to create designs which were in agreement to their religious laws and also appealing to the Non-Muslim eye. Emerging designers from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, UAE, Morocco, and Jordan are bringing this fashion into the mainstream. Luxury designer apparels of this type are also witnessing popularity, especially in the gulf countries.
Haute couture dresses can be availed for Muslim men and women. These dresses are in accordance with the religious laws and give the wearer a glamorous look. As before, Islamic fashion designers have moved away from black, blue, and other light colors to bright and vibrant colors in order to design a Hijab wear. Lace and other such details are also used in designing Hijab wear which gives the piece of clothing an elegant and glamorous look. Embroideries of different types are made on the traditional wear to make it beautiful and attractive. Collars and panels of different types are in trend at the moment. There are Hijabs available for different occasions including sportswear for sports loving Muslim women and swimwear (called burqini) for Muslim women swimmers.
Fashionable Hijabs are popular all over the world. Owing to their increasing popularity, Non-Muslims are also giving it a try! The Muslim fashion industry is estimated to be worth around $960 million to $1.5 billion a year in the European Union alone. This is because the Muslims residing in the European countries have a higher purchasing power. Even the Non-Muslims, being fashionistas, are willing to experiment with different types of fashion. Muslim women from Middle-east Asia are the biggest consumers of Hijab wear. Arabic women are willing to spend any amount of money to stay in trend! This fashion is no longer limited to designers and boutiques. Luxury brands like Hermes and Gucci are also coming up with head scarves for Muslim women. Paris, London, and Milan are expected to become the luxury couture capital of the world by 2020.
Indonesia is the biggest exporter of Muslim fashion wear in the world as of now, and it is preparing itself to become the Muslim fashion hub of the world by 2020. The country expects a rise of seven percent in its exports by 2025. Jakarta hosts an Islamic Fashion Fair every year, wherein exquisite designer Muslim fashion apparel by big names of the industry is displayed. This event is considered one of the best that the Islamic fashion industry has to offer to the global fashion industry. Almost 15 percent area of the malls in Middle-east is occupied by traditional Islamic fashion wear sellers, and they make good profit out of the limited clothing choices they provide to consumers.
There is more to this fashion statement than "good looks" and "confidence". Such modifications to the apparel will not only enable the Islamic men and women feel more confident of their looks, but will also help the world notice the new, fresh look of Islamic fashion. Fashion has the potential to change many things in the world. Islamic fashion may help in changing the outlook of the world towards Hijab and its wearers and promoters. In fact, it may spark a revolution in the world in whole and not merely the fashion industry! There is immense potential in the apparel, and it can evoke changes that may change lifestyles and thinking.