It’s not easy to find clothes that have full arm and leg coverage

Generation M: Young Muslim consumers want choice in the clothes they can buy

Nafisa Bakkar and her sister Selina, founders of Amaliah website for young Muslim women

Nafisa Bakkar and her sister Selina, founders of Amaliah website for young Muslim women

 

“I see fashion and the way you dress as a form of empowerment”, says London based Nafisa Bakkar.  With her sister Selina she is the founder of Amaliah, a fashion and lifestyle website for young Muslim women. It became an overnight success when it was launched just over a year ago and now has over 30,000 visitors a month. With Eid celebrations nearly on hand at the beginning of September, Muslim women in Ireland will be dressing up for the occasion and searching Amaliah for stylish shopping ideas and guidance.  

“We are not here to tell you what is or is not modest, we are just here to make the journey a little easier”, they say. Named by Forbes as One to Watch and featured on CNN, Metro and Wired, Amaliah now has some 70 contributors and around 200 retailers and has been described as the site where hijabs meet high fashion. Others have called it as a Muslim friendly version of Polyvore with current offerings being maxi dresses, jumpsuits, kaftans and midis at prices from £29.90 for a long dusty peach draped tulle dress up to £79.90 for a polka dot midi.

For the Bakkars and other young likeminded Muslim consumers called Generation M, it is not always easy to find fashionable clothes that have full leg and arm coverage.  Yet there are major commercial incentives. A report by Thomson Reuters estimates by 2020 the Islamic fashion market will be worth around $300 billion, so a lot of money can be made catering for modest dress and clothing showing less flesh.

Some designers have already seen the opportunities. Uniqlo, for instance, collaborated on a range of flowing skirts, breezy culottes and hijabs (scarves that cover the head) with the British Japanese Muslim designer Hana Tajima two years ago while other brands like Dolce & Gabbana launched a luxury line of hijabs and abayas (loose, long robes) as did Netaporter and Moda Operandi.

Fashion, in its own way, is embracing the idea of modesty and covering up has become a feature of many collections from designers - vide Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, Phoebe Philo and Vetements whose looks are often oversized and enveloping. “Modesty trends have definitely lingered around for the past three or four years”, agrees Nafisa.

 “The whole layering look, for instance, (is an example) and you have to question whether all this could be a by-product of the grass roots modesty fashion community pushing upwards (into the mainstream). What we do in Amaliah is to take pieces and put them together – so that you can layer up the slip dress trend and make it accessible for Muslim women. Fashion is such a big part of our identity so it’s how you make it easier for a group that is so scrutinised for the way they dress. It is about being able to offer choices.”

Eid shop link: amaliah.com

Clothes with coverage

Black jumpsuit with flared sleeves £27. 50 Asos
Black jumpsuit with flared sleeves £27. 50 Asos
Black maxi dress House of Sunny £40
Floral midi H & M £39.90
Red jumper with flared sleeves £30 Asos
Charcoal draped gown Maya Petite £78
Pink sequin and tulle dress by Maya Petite £90
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