Modest wear is reaching a whole new level as Asia Islamic Fashion Week is held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. By Shruti Gattani
Inspired by the ongoing modest trend around the world, the first-ever Asia Islamic Fashion Week (AIFW) was held in Malaysia from March 30 to April 2, 2017. We are all aware that Malaysia boasts the name of Jimmy Choo – one of the biggest fashion houses in the world; but a new breed of talent and fashionistas are on the rise in Malaysia, making it a hub for modest clothing.
Built around the theme, ‘Establishing Asia As A Global Centre For Islamic Fashion’, the fashion extravaganza was a unique blend of modest fashion and cutting-edge style, all within the Islamic principles. Aspiring to become a leading marketplace, the event was fitting, given the demographic and Muslim fashion awareness rapidly growing in this region.
Red Carpet Opening Ceremony
A host of modest wear designers underlined their faith in a unique-stylish manner, while the background music and models rolled in that extra edge to make the clothes standout even more. The opening night ceremony kick-started with an emotional speech by Fuza Umar, the founder of AIFW, where she emphasised on how the event congregates the movers and shakers of the industry, in a convention which discusses and explores ideas behind the revolutionary marriage of faith and fashion.
Apart from noted dignitaries, the guest of honour – Tun Dato’ Sri Haji Abdullah Badawi, ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia – offered his support and encouraged the budding designers with powerful words. On this occasion, Alia Khan, Founder and Chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council praised the founder on the positive integration of the word ‘Islamic’, while in other parts of the world, its gathering negative response. “The moment we decided to embrace Islamic fashion in our lives, we became representatives of who we are as Muslims. What we believe in and what we stand for. In Islamic fashion there is no option to hiding our beliefs, we wear them on our sleeves, so to speak. Our appearance, our style, our way of dressing must be held to good standards. Our fashion and style is the unspoken language that tells other so much about us.”
Modest Designers, Fashionistas And Speakers In Limelight
For four days, the fashion week was home to modest designers from different continents presenting their trendsetting collections. From clothes to shoes, bags, beauty products and home & décor, the event brought in people that are elegantly conquering the fashion world and challenging its popular culture. We’ve seen a tremendous rise in modest clothing, and with Asia Islamic Fashion Week this has been further strengthened. Day One saw a music-laden runway presentation by ten designers – Amjaad (France), Barjis (London), Dian Pelangi (Indonesia), Cosry (Malaysia) and Black Swan Couture (UAE) to name a few – who brought varied styles of modest wear under one roof. The following days introduced other renowned and promising designers from Brunei, South Africa, etc. In between the shows, esteemed panelists discussed hard-pressing topics resonating modest lifestyle.
Forums on the business of modest fashion, the global perspective and fashion influencer chit chats, comprised of speakers like Fashion Entrepreneur, Mizz Nina; CEO of Haute Hijab, Melanie Elturk; CEO of LBB International, Dr Marco Tieman and Lifestyle Unit Director of MATRADE, Abu Bakar Yusof. While the event boasted big names, it also included a raft of fashion and media startups. Fuza Umar proudly states, “We are proud to announce the participation of more than 10,000 visitors, 180 exhibitors, 100 designers, 100 international trade buyers, and fashion influencers and business executives from over 20 countries.”
The Rise Of ‘Islamic’ Fashion
As covered in our previous article, modest clothing is expected to grow to $327 billion by 2019. Hijabs can be seen at New York Fashion Week and Islamic contextual designs are becoming fashion trends, per se. Alia Khan beautifully mentions in her speech, “Hijab is a holistic thing, let us not reduce it just to a scarf. While a scarf certainly preserves modesty and that depicts a certain good character, we must remember that a scarf does not necessarily mean the holistic sense of hijab in its full sense.” Today more and more brands, including high-end fashion players are opening up to the importance of Muslim wear and a hijab. The demand is growing and hijabis are adopting and educating people on how to mix faith and fashion.
The attendees witnessed a fashion scene that spoke volumes about ongoing trends – metallic pleated skirts, fluttery sleeves, embellished evening wear, songket traditional wear and (even) trendy sportswear. The only difference: all were aesthetically decorated with dazzling hijabs. For now, the shopping power may lie with the wealthier markets of Middle East, but with more than 60 per cent of the world’s Muslim population living in the Asia Pacific Region, as per Pew Research Center – there is likely to be a change in the shopping setup.