FEATURE: Neelofa taking modest fashion to greater heights

KUALA LUMPUR (The Star/Malaysia/ANN) - Rrepresenting modest fashion at the recently concluded New York, Milan and Paris fashion shows, Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, fondly known as Neelofa or Lofa to her fans, wore stunning outfits.

Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, fondly known as Neelofa or Lofa to her fans, wore stunning outfits representing modest fashion at the recently concluded New York, Milan and Paris fashion shows.

She sat in the front row at many runway shows in the three cities.

The New York, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks are three of the “Big Four” fashion shows held globally where designers showcase their international fashion collections.

Neelofa, a hijabista, was a sensation at the shows as she donned several outfits by top-tier designers.

She was even featured on @vogueitalia Instagram (IG) during one of the shows, which was a big win for her.

In a video that appeared on @vogueitalia IG, Neelofa said modest fashion was “no longer conservative, no longer rigid, no longer boring, now more inclusive, flexible and fun!”

Modest fashion according to a report is about higher necklines, longer hemlines, longer sleeve lengths and looser cuts, but the younger generation refuses to skimp on style, as they want to be as stylish as the others.

She represents the new breed of hijabistas who are doing away with the once-dowdy designs to remain fashionable.

A report quoting DinarStandard and Reuters says that Muslim consumers spent about US$270bil on modest fashion in 2017 compared to US$243bil in 2015.

Sales are expected to reach US$361bil by 2023.

Globally, several brands are offering collections for the modest woman, be it hijabs, couture and even cosmetics.

Designer Giuseppe Zanotti is even creating a special limited-edition pair of shoes for her.

From actress to host, Neelofa has come a long way to be featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list and is an entrepreneur of her own hijab fashion line under the brand name of Naelofar.

On IG, she has over 6.5 million followers under the handle @neelofar. She won an award from the Influencer Awards Monaco this week.

The new breed of social media superstars are raking in huge amounts of money by being influencers.

Globally, entrepreneur Kylie Jenner makes about US$1.2mil per sponsored post on her IG handle and is the highest-paid celebrity IG influencer of 2019 as compiled by social media expert Hopper HQ.

Neelofa is not alone, there are several hijabistas who influence purchase decisions and that is why companies are willing to pay them to tap into their reach.

These influencers’ global reach is made possible with the Internet, a game-changer that creates new opportunities and reach for companies.

Statista estimates that the e-commerce market value in Malaysia alone would be worth US$4bil in 2020.

As it is, several local designers are making waves in the world of modest fashion and selling their designs online. Even Naelofar hijabs are sold online to more than 37 countries globally.

The same can be said of Datin Vivy Yusof’s (also on Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list) Fashion Valet and Duck products, Mimpikita, Love to Dress, Hafizah Ghazali, Nurita Harith and Rico Rinaldi, among others.

Some local designers are also working with foreign brands to further promote modest fashion.

Modest fashion is here to stay and it is about who gets the bigger bite.

This explains why even the top-tier designers are paying closer attention to it.

If model Halima Aden has shown the world that donning a hijab can be stylish, Neelofa has shown that you can be fashionable and yet be a hijabista. These women are making strides and taking modest fashion to the next level.

Even the mid and lower-tier houses are catering to this fast-growing market segment, with brands like Uniqlo, H&M, Macy’s and Marks & Spencer having collections to cater to this segment of the market.

A report, however, says that 66% of global Millennials are fashion-savvy and are willing to spend more on a brand that is sustainable.

Hence, if Millennials are the target market, then designers have to be mindful of sustainability too.

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