Global fashion trends reveal growing influence of Arabic style
The Arab fashion industry is set to further broaden its global appeal following years of steady acceptance and the growing support of top fashion icons, according to French Fashion University Esmod - Dubai, the leading fashion institution in the Middle East.
The international Muslim fashion industry is estimated to be worth more than USD 96 billion, assuming that 50 per cent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims each spend at least USD 120 a year on modest clothing. Consumers in Non-Islamic fashion-conscious countries, such as France and the UK, with higher purchasing power are willing to spend more than USD 600 a year on high-end clothing. In the UK alone there are more than 1.5 million Muslims, so the market for Muslim fashion could be worth somewhere between USD 90 to 150 million a year. At this rate, the 16 million Muslims in the European Union represent a potential clothing market valued at around USD 960 million to 1.5 billion a year.
Some Arabic style outfits can sell for as much as USD 10,000 and yet remain in high demand due to the robust economies of key markets such as the United Arab Emirates. A Dubai-based company in fact sells abayas costing between USD 1,500 to 10,000. A client that spends at least USD 6,500 or more is given the privilege of acquiring a copyright for her personal abaya design.
“We can see Arabian styles steadily influencing European street fashion, which proves the potential of this emerging niche. Aside from making abayas decorated with crystal beads, pearls, embroidery, satin flowers, and other colorful adornments, designers are also introducing dramatic new styles, fabrics, and colors to Islamic dresses. For instance, a British designer offers an outfit which combines a hooded abaya with a matching niqab, or face veil, in eye-catching pink over a salwar, or loose pants, printed with an ornate English floral motif as part of her Imaan Collections. High-end designers such as Hermes and Gucci are also trying to break into the Muslim market with scarves and other products,” said Tamara Hostal, Director and Founder of Esmod Dubai.
Celebrity designers such as Christian Lacroix have been integrating Arabic styles into their wardrobes as they are intrigued by the emphasis given to the design rather than the body. A new generation of highly-talented designers such as Elie Saab, Robert Abi Nader Abed Mahfouz, Walid Attalah, Essa from the UAE and others continue to impress the fashion world with their fusion of modern and Muslim-inspired elements into their ensembles. Their works reflect the transition from plain and simple Arabic designs to more sophisticated creations that extensively use embroidered elements.
The first-ever all-Arab fashion event held in Europe last year, which was staged at London’s InterContinental Hotel in Park Lane under the theme ‘Arabian Fashion World,’ affirmed the coming-of-age of Muslim fashion through the impressive collections of five acclaimed Arab designers from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Jordan. More than 400 guests joined the landmark show including Middle Eastern Royalty, Arab and international ambassadors, celebrities, fashion industry buyers, other VIPs and media. The event was fully supported by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce. Another event, the inaugural edition of the ‘Arabian Kids Fashion Show,’ will showcase the latest products and accessories for Arabian kids under one roof at the COEX Korea Exhibition Center this coming May 2010.
The French Fashion University Esmod in Dubai has been influential in honing the skills of aspiring Arab fashionistas. It is one of 21 fashion schools overseen by the renowned Esmod International Fashion University Group. The university offers various programs; a 3-year diploma program equivalent to a BA degree; publicly-accessible short programs and customized short courses in make-up and fashion.