Muslim expenditure on clothes to reach $322b by 2018

The Islamic clothes, fashion and design market is one of the core sectors of the Islamic economy

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There is a huge gap in the global Islamic clothes, fashion and design market in the absence of major Islamic brands capable of meeting the requirements of the Muslim population, especially women, a research note by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry based on a study by Thomson Reuters revealed.

The Islamic clothes, fashion and design market is an emerging industry with huge potential, and is one of the core sectors of the Islamic economy. The findings of the report are therefore of significant interest to the market, especially since the 10th World Islamic Economy Forum is scheduled to be organized in Dubai on Oct. 28-30, 2014 hosted by the WIEF Foundation and Dubai Chamber.

Commenting on the report, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber, said: “While the1.6 billion Muslims around the world represent about 23 percent of the world’s total population, the market does not have any prominent Muslim clothing brand. As a result, the Muslim population is not yet catered for in terms of their clothes and fashion aspirations. The gap in the market is currently addressed by the main players of the global clothes fashion industry, who are not equipped to fully attend to the requirements of the Islamic customer base.”

Al Ghurair added: “The research note findings are of relevance to Dubai considering that it aims to become a global center for Islamic fashion and design as a key pillar of the Dubai Capital of Islamic economy initiative launched in 2013. The lack of a global Islamic clothing brand presents a unique opportunity for local fashion designers and companies to leverage Dubai’s status as a trendsetting center and make use of its successful retail sector to establish global Islamic clothing brands.”

Currently, no single local Muslim brand dominates the market. However, within the 57 countries that form the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, local clothing companies have managed to establish their presence, producing local dresses based on local cultural preferences.

The gap in the international Islamic clothes, fashion and design market is significant in the light of the Dubai Chamber report finding that the global Muslim population spent $224 billion on clothes in 2012, accounting for about 10.6 percent of the global spending in the garments sector.

Globally, spending on clothing and footwear reached about $2.1 trillion in 2012 and this figure is expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2018. Spending by the Muslim population is expected to grow from $224 billion in 2012 to $322 billion by 2018, comprising about 11.2 percent of the global spending, the report noted.

Further, the report pointed out that the global Islamic clothes, fashion and design market is larger than most top global clothing markets such as China, with customer spending worth $221 billion, Japan with $111 billion, Russia with $106 billion and Germany with $101 billion in 2012. The only exception is the US, which is the biggest market in terms of expenditure on clothing and footwear recording $494 billion in spending in 2012.

Among the Muslim majority countries, Turkey recorded the highest spending on clothing in 2012 worth about $ 24.9 billion, followed by Iran with $ 20.5 billion. Other prominent nations in this group are Indonesia with $ 16.8 billion, Egypt $ 16.2 billion, Saudi Arabia $ 15.3 billion, Pakistan $ 14.4 billion and the UAE with $ 10.2 billion.

Interestingly, the report shows that there is a significant Muslim clothing market within Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Collectively, Muslims within these countries spent about $ 21 billion on clothing and footwear in 2012, making the western Muslim clothing market the second biggest after Turkey.

The report states that the OIC countries recorded a trade surplus in clothing products of about $ 35 billion in 2012 with $ 59 billion of clothes exports and $ 24 billion in clothes imports. Within the OIC, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries were the top importing countries with cloth imports worth about $ 11.4 billion in 2012 led by the UAE with estimated cloth imports of about $7.2 billion in 2012, followed by Saudi Arabia with $ 3 billion.

The top clothes exporter within the OIC group is the group of South Asian countries with total clothes exports valued at $25.9 billion in 2012, led by Bangladesh which exported clothes worth $ 22 billion during the year. The report highlights Turkey as the second major clothes exporting country within the OIC group with $14 billion followed by Indonesia with $7.2 billion.

Highlighting the potential regions for Islamic clothes industry, the report states the Asia Pacific has the highest number of Muslims with about 985.5 million people accounting for about 24 per cent of the region’s population. The Middle East and North Africa has the highest concentration of Muslims where about 93 per cent of its approximately 341 million inhabitants are Muslims.

According to the report, the main segments of the global clothing industry value chain that are directly influenced by the emerging Islamic clothing needs and, therefore, present ample potential business opportunities are: clothing manufacturers, specifically manufacturers of women’s wear, distribution channels or retailers, including those online, and designers. The report also identifies marketing, media and financial services in the industry as areas offering lucrative business opportunities.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Sept. 22.

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