(29 Mar 2018) LEAD IN:
Designers and fashionistas are gathering in Dubai for the first ever Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane modest fashion event.
It comes as the global fashion industry slowly wakes to the potential of modest fashions.
Under Dubai's towering Burj Khalifa, Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane fashion event is in full swing.
But this week-long fashion event doesn't feature scantily-clad models or skin-baring designs.
Instead, around 30 modest fashion designers - some Muslim, some not - from almost two dozen countries are showcasing their long-sleeved, floor-length pieces
Buyers can touch and feel the collections up-close, at City Walk, one of Dubai's newest shopping districts.
"The idea was to showcase variety," explains Alia Khan, chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council.
"Modest fashion comes in so many different ways and I think people tend to pigeon hole it and they tend to stereotype it into a certain type that they have in their mind and it's not.
"And I think this event really conveys that."
Modest clothing is still very much a niche market in terms of the global fashion industry.
But already some mainstream designers and retailers are making attempts to tap into the estimated $2.6 trillion USD Muslim lifestyle market.
Sisters Rama and Nazek Jandali are enthusiastic about the growing choice in modest fashion lines and brands.
"I'm a big fashion of modest fashion, especially that Ramadan is coming up and we have to dress in a certain way to go with the month," says Rama.
"Because you have to wear decent clothes and everything."
Last month, U.S. department store chain Macy's launched its own modest clothing line, targeting Muslim fashionistas.
The new line, only available online for now, includes ruffled high-neck tunics, flowing jumpsuits and bell-sleeve, ankle-length cardigans.
Shahd Alasaly, the founder of 'Blue meets Blue,' a Chicago-based modest fashion brand, welcomes the move.
"I think retailers are now realising that the Muslim market is huge in America and that it needs to be represented more," she says.
Khan believes modest styles are slowly becoming a major part of the global fashion landscape.
"It's a $322 billion-dollar spending power, as of 2018," she says.
"So, they said if it was a country, it'd be number three after China and America as a huge economy. So, that speaks a lot to the modest lifestyle."
Vivy Yusof, co-founder of Fashion Valet, a Malaysia-based e-commerce boutique, claims her company has experienced 100 percent annual growth, since launching in 2010.
"I think it's really funny that now modest fashion is booming so much, because that's how we've been dressing for ages," she says.
"I think with the rise of social media and the rise of YouTubers, suddenly there's more attention on modest fashion, which is amazing."
But it's not only about looking good.
British-Egyptian entrepreneur Yasmin Sobeih says she created her modest-focused activewear brand 'Under-Rapt' after seeing a gap in the market.
"If I can then inspire through my products, Muslim women to participate more in sportswear, then they have the sportswear clothes to participate," she says.
"So, it's creating a lifestyle, rather than just a fashion brand."
Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane modest fashion event runs 28 March -2 April at Dubai's City Walk.
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