A model displays latest collections of Arabesque sheilas and abayas during the Bride Show at Abu Dhabi National Exhibitoin Centre. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: Thanks to years of steady acceptance and growing support from top fashion icons, Arabic and Islamic fashion is set to continue its influence on the global fashion industry, according to French Fashion University Esmod Dubai, a fashion institution in the Middle East.

The international Islamic fashion industry is estimated to be worth more than $96 billion (Dh352.6 billion), assuming that 50 per cent of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims each spend at least $120 a year on modest clothing, according to a study conducted by Tamara Hostal, director and founder of Esmod Dubai.

"We can see Arabian styles steadily influencing European street fashion, which proves the potential of this emerging niche," Hostal said.

The growth and expansion of the Muslim middle class and their penetration into Western society are making them more dress- and fashion-conscious. As more and more Muslim men and women become educated and take up professions and develop businesses, they adopt modernism with a touch of Islamic tradition to match their modern lifestyles.

Analysts say these factors will drive growth in the Islamic fashion and clothing industry.

Market potential

According to the report, consumers in countries such as France and the United Kingdom, with higher purchasing power are willing to spend more than $600 a year on high-end clothing.

There are more than 1.5 million Muslims in the UK alone, so the market for Muslim fashion could be worth between $90 million and $150 million a year. The report says that at this rate, the 16 million Muslims in the European Union would represent a potential clothing market of $960 million to $1.5 billion a year.

"Aside from making abayas decorated with crystal beads, pearls, embroidery, satin flowers, and other colourful adornments, designers are also introducing dramatic new styles, fabrics, and colours to Islamic dresses," Hostal said.

"High-end designers such as Hermes and Gucci are also trying to break into the Muslim market with scarves and other products," she said.

Some Arabic style outfits can sell for as much as $10,000, yet remain in high demand due to the robust economies of key markets such as the UAE, the report says.

Aiisha Ramadan, a Lebanese fashion designer who's worked in the UAE for two decades, told Gulf News that an acceptable price for an abaya is around Dh3,000.

She said that news about the Middle East has also brought attention to its culture and that it has become an area of interest for Westerners.

"Designers may have Islamic and Arabic references for mere inspiration or to cater to the market, which will eventually sell more."

She said that the fashion industry in the Middle East is indeed growing.

"Designers are growing more aware of what the international and the Arab markets want. We are being more open minded about combinations of colours, fabrics, higher standards in terms of finishing and techniques and the design in general," she said.

Speaking of the tastes of Arab women when it comes to fashion, Aiisha said that women in the Arab world are looking for individuality and uniqueness.

Last year, Arabic and Islamic fashion took centre stage at the first all-Arab fashion event which was held in Europe under the theme ‘Arabian Fashion World.'

Five Arab designers from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the UAE, Morocco and Jordan brought the best of their designs to London.

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