Opinion: Islamic art and fashion hit the mainstream

Islamic art and fashion are quickly becoming burgeoning industries within the diverse landscape of the Islamic economy, and are dominating a key market share in the global lifestyle sector.

By Matthew Amlot – CPI Financial

GIES logoIn 2014, Islamic, or modest, fashion sector expenditure reached $230 billion, constituting 11 per cent of the global fashion market. It is projected to grow a further six per cent to reach $327 billion by 2020, according to the upcoming State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) report, to be published in conjunction with the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) taking place in Dubai this October.

The 2015 summit, organized by Dubai Chamber, the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and Thomson Reuters, is set to gather over 2,000 policymakers, thinkers and business leaders on 5 and 6 October 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE.

Art and culture are important components of the Islamic economy, and while Islamic art has always been a mainstay of museums around the world, it has increasingly gained importance as a collectable investment. Initiatives across the GCC region, and especially in Qatar and the UAE, have turned a spotlight onto Islamic art that retains a focus on traditional religious works, while also introducing audiences to more contemporary offerings. As part of the drive within the GCC to create a more vibrant cultural profile, innovative spaces such the Mathaf in Qatar and the Guggenheim and Louvre in Abu Dhabi, as well as contemporary galleries in Dubai, are all encouraging investment in Islamic art and helping it go mainstream.

Islamic fashion is another fast-growing market and an integral pillar of the Islamic economy. Contrary to the rest of the fashion industry, which is facing financial pressures as a result of global recession, it continues to expand. Initially catering to the inherent modesty of the Muslim world, Islamic fashion is generating demand from other regions and cultures where modesty is a priority, as well as attracting attention from major mainstream fashion players.

A representative from Sefamerve, a leading modest fashion retailer, said, “While global brands that focus on modest fashion have been catering to Muslim sensibilities for years, they must also keep in mind a fast-growing conservative customer base that is also interested in modest fashion. These two complementary groups can help elevate these brands into key players in the fashion industry.”

Paolo Costanzo, Chairman of Infinita Group, said,” Being part of the of the Global Islamic Economy Summit gives us the opportunity to enter the modest fashion market, a sector we believe has great potential, and one we are confident that we can support globally through our network of key players in the Italian fashion market.’

Kerim Türe, Founder and CEO of Modanisa.com, ranked the top Islamic fashion site globally, said, “Social media and the Internet are the driving factors behind the transition of Islamic fashion into the global mainstream. Women worldwide are looking for the latest trends in elegant and conservative style, in line with Islamic culture. Serving them through a one-stop shop that provides variety, quality, and excellent service is the key to success in this rapidly developing modest fashion market.”

Islamic fashion was also at the centre of the Turin Modest Fashion Round table, organised this past July by the Turin municipality, Thomson Reuters and the Dubai Chamber. Both entrepreneurs and more established fashion houses are servicing this niche market, which draws on influences from Asian, Arab and African cultures.

Alia Khan, Chairwoman of the Islamic Fashion and Design Council, said, “People are intrigued by the Islamic fashion industry, and rightly so; there is much more to it than meets the eye. It has tremendous potential to lead and can set a wonderful example for the mainstream fashion industry, offering powerful solutions that will revolutionize fashion – while maintaining its dignity, elegance, and class.”