Thriving market for modest fashion

28/03/2018 - 12:54

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The market for modest fashion in South-East Asia is attracting attention as a potential export destination for a range of local designers, with dramatic growth expected in the next decade.

Thriving market for modest fashion
Aisha Novakovich says Perth is well placed to make a play for the modest fashion market in South-East Asia. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The market for modest fashion in South-East Asia is attracting attention as a potential export destination for a range of local designers, with dramatic growth expected in the next decade.

Among those targeting the opportunity is Aisha Novakovich, who founded the Modest Fashion Project with a plan to distribute fashion from local designers into markets such as Indonesia.

“Perth is ideally placed by virtue of our proximity to Asia,” Ms Novakovich said.

“We only have Indonesia 3.5 hours away.

“I’m from Indonesia, which helps me to navigate and build those bridges.”

The potential market is very large, with data suggesting the modest fashion industry could be worth more than $US300 billion globally by the end of the decade.

Much of that market is in the Islamic world, such as in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Middle East, although Ms Novakovich said modest fashion had broader appeal.

“Modest fashion is a spectrum on which many women find themselves,” she said.

Ms Novakovich is working towards a first capital raising for the project, with a launch show to take place in May and interest from a range of designers keen to take part.

One is North Perth-based D-Tribe, which launched last year.

D-Tribe designer Daphne Wong said the label had initially started with a Western focus but was collaborating with Ms Novakovich and had broadened its offering to include modest fashion.

The business manufactures in Malaysia, and Ms Wong, who is from that country, was keen to make inroads there and into Singapore.

Other labels involved in the project include Qamar Designs, Sabreen’s Window and Veilerra.

Fashion Premiere

Ms Novakovich’s venture is not the only project hoping to connect local designers into these new markets.

Port Hedland-born Amalina Aman, whose label takes her name, is now based on the east coast and has secured sales into Indonesia, although most of overseas interest is from the US through online retailing.

Ms Aman was invited to showcase in Kuala Lumpur in 2011 and her designs were modelled at the Perth Modest Fashion Premiere last week.

The premiere was organised by Perth-based Imam Faizel Chothia and Reverend Peter Humphries, with a further three events to follow later this year, including a show at the Perth Fashion Festival.

A tour of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta fashion shows is in the works for next year.

About five designers will be part of that roadshow.

Ms Aman also believed the concept would appeal to a wider market than the core demographic, Muslim women.

“It’s for any religion and any type of woman,” Ms Aman told Business News.

“It’s for women who like to dress comfortably and (be) stylish at the same time.”

Imam Chothia said the modest fashion market was booming, and he believed there was a need for a more diverse fashion industry in Western Australia.

The state was a tiny market in comparison, he said.

Designers from overseas had expressed interest in being involved in the Perth shows too, he said.

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