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Conservative yet chic garb gaining ground

Farashati aims to provide "conservative chic" clothing options for women who want to be stylish without compromising their values.

Gulf News

Dubai: Farashati aims to provide "conservative chic" clothing options for women who want to be stylish without compromising their values.

Gulf News sat down with Farashati creative director Farhana Farooq about her views on the 'modesty clothing' industry.

Gulf News: How did you come up with the idea of producing modesty clothing?

Farhana Farooq: I read an article two years back about a US-based company that had initiated a modesty clothing line. It was then that it occurred to me that due to the cultural demands of the Middle East, this concept would do very well here. It has been playing on my mind ever since and late last year I thought I should work on it myself.

What are your target markets?

To begin with, we are concentrating on the Gulf region - UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

What are the key selling points of this product?

I'd say the key selling point remains the design philosophy behind Farashati. Customers who dress conservatively do not have to layer their clothes any more to cover up. Our designs are in line with the latest trends and come with longer sleeves and longer length. It's a one-stop shopping experience where customers also experience the choice of a matching head scarf.

How confident are you that this concept will pick up?

There is clearly a 'gap' that exists. Our target audience has a distinct set of needs that is not being met by the current fashion retailers. Currently, the only option conservative women have is to layer their clothes - which isn't just uncomfortable but also offers them minimal fashion options even if they are ready to pay the price for it. So the gap we're discussing has always existed - whether in the Middle East or otherwise - and is market-induced since fashion houses tend to concentrate only on liberal styles. I am confident that coupled with good quality, the concept of Farashati is bound to gain popularity in the retail industry.

Any expansion plans outside Dubai?

Farashati was initiated in India and therefore our presence in the Dubai market itself is a result of our detailed expansion plans. Over the next couple of months we are planning to offer our products through our dedicated internet portal to end users across the region. However, we are open to moving beyond Dubai and the online reach and we are seeking trade partners in the GCC for merchandising through retail stores which share our philosophy.

How many women in Dubai and in the GCC do you think actively use/prefer modesty clothing?

Research figures strongly support the need for conservative fashion options. The UAE is a diverse country with a large population of expatriates belonging to Islamic countries - 15 per cent from GCC countries and eight per cent Iranians in addition to 19 per cent Emiratis. The survey also revealed that over 96 per cent of UAE residents follow and practise Islam - a possible indication of the expected demand for conservative clothing. Farashati also conducted a dipstick research on shopping patterns among UAE residents, 30 per cent of those surveyed answered in the affirmative about the regular use of head scarves, 54 per cent wanted 3/4ths if not full-length sleeves and 68 per cent preferred tops that would cover their hips.

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