An Egyptian article discussing “the business of Islam”, including the booming Islamic fashion industry;
Once a minority, muhajabat (women who wear a headscarf) are now an overwhelming majority in Egypt. Understanding that this was a market with huge potential, businesses immediately began to make products to satisfy the needs of their veiled customers.
Perhaps the first company to respond was The Tie Shop, a store dedicated exclusively to providing women with headscarves of all colors, styles and fabrics. From velour to chiffon garnished with sequins or beads, these veils quickly began flying off the shelves.
Previously a piece of cloth wrapped once or twice around the head, the hijab (headscarf) has not been free from the influence of fashion — donning the veil can now take up to an hour. It has also spawned complimentary businesses — magazines such as the local Hijab feature models wearing the garment in a variety of ways and pages dedicated to explaining how to create new styles. Hairdressers have also jumped onto the trend — muhajabat can visit a hairdresser who will tie their veil for them in the desired style (rosette and braid for example) or for prices ranging between LE 100 to LE 700, specialized stylists will visit homes to tie the hijab in private.
And after the hijab? Clothes, of course. Catering to the conservative Muslim woman has become big business, with some shops stocking only ankle length skirts, high-necked shirts and the like. Al-Salam Shopping Center near the Ramses Hilton caters to an almost exclusively veiled clientele, selling everything from hip fashions to abayat (the long Islamic dress that is typically black).
Some shops such as the chain Muhajaba release new designs every few months and use advertising gimmicks such as bringing in well-know actresses that have donned the hijab to advertise their new styles. Like the Islamic revival, the rise in muhajaba wear has extended to all segments of society, with many exclusive designer stores also opening shops where the cost of a basic black abaya starts at LE 1,000.
Perhaps the most successful product created to serve the needs of muhajabat is the seamless long sleeve high-neck top that molds to the body and sells for LE 60. Carina, the major producer of these tops, has been so successful that the company’s name has become synonymous with the style. The company has opened 25 stores around the country in three years — a phenomenal success story, according to Carina Marketing Executive Hana Youssef, who claims the product is worn by at least 90% of women in public universities.
“Before we created the Carina top, muhajabat simply couldn’t wear anything they wanted. So we designed a top with a high neck and sleeves that muhajabat can wear under anything they want, and still be conservative,” says Youssef. Carina uses Lycra from Switzerland that is breathable, elastic, seamless and molds to the shape of the body.
“We’re not only targeting Muslims,” says Youssef, who says that the garment is useful for non-veiled women as well, “It’s a product for any woman who wishes to dress conservatively . It just so happens that most of our clients are Muslim.”
With the success of the classic long-sleeved top, Carina immediately branched out to other similar products, beginning with the t-shirt cut, long-sleeved top, to the tank tops that are used as outerwear by girls under 14. Its product line now includes over 60 underwear and outerwear products for women, ranging from leggings and corsets to long-sleeved sequined tops and hijabs. Read the full article here.
What do you think about making the religion big business? I mean, it’s wonderful to have a lot of different choices when it comes to clothing, but it’s very sad that much of the “trendy” clothing for mohagabat is just too exclusive and expensive for normal Egyptian women… Or what?