‘Time for Islamic couture’

A Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry report said that the UAE is the largest importer of clothes in the region, with about US$7.3 billion being spent per year, while Muslim countries import about US $102 billion worth of clothes.

Alia Khan believes that while Islamic fashion is centred on the faithful, a consumer base that will grow, it also holds great appeal for followers of other religions. Antonie Robertson / The National
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DUBAI // Fashion designers have bemoaned the fact that there are no major fashion houses in the UAE to cater to the growing market in so-called “Islamic fashion”.

A Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry report said the UAE was the largest importer of clothes in the region, with about US$7.3 billion (Dh13.6bn) spent per year. As a whole, Muslim countries import about US$102bn (Dh375bn) worth of clothes.

Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce, said: “While the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world represent about 23 per cent of the world’s total population, the market does not have any prominent Muslim clothing brand. As a result, the Muslim population has not been catered for in terms of their clothes and fashion aspirations.”

He said the lack of a global Islamic clothing brand offered an opportunity for UAE fashion designers and companies to become market leaders.

Alia Khan is the founder of Islamic Fashion Design Council, an organisation established to develop the Islamic fashion industry in Dubai.

She described Islamic fashion as clothes that were “worn primarily by practising Muslims who have committed to the Islamic principles of dressing”. “However, there is a secondary following of conservative consumers ranging from people of other faiths, modest consumers,” she said.

“As long as the worldwide Muslim population keeps growing as fast as it does, then this market will only increase exponentially.”

Abeer Al Suwaidi, an Emirati fashion designer, said there was a need for more clothes designed specifically for Muslims.

“I seriously think that there is a definite lack of modest clothing in the industry,” she said.

Bong Guerrero, founder and chief executive of the Fashion Forward fashion show in Dubai, said the UAE was the perfect place for a homegrown clothing label to find its footing.

“The UAE offers a perfect blend of cultures, being home to a multitude of nationalities, each bringing different styles and fashion tastes,” he said.