13 October 2016
DUBAI - France’s recent ban on burkinis significantly boosted business for Modanisa, said the company’s founder Kerim Ture at the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2016 (GIES) yesterday.
“During that week and the following week, our sales went up by 20 to 25 percent. In France, it increased by 30 to 35 percent,” said Ture.
“When people talk about the burkinis, they buy burkinis,” he added.
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Dolce & Gabbana’s launch of their debut abaya and hijab line earlier this year similarly helped drive sales for the Turkey-based modest fashion retailer.
“Any mention of modest fashion, positive or negative, helps us,” said Ture.
According to Soha Mohamed Taha, founder of SohaMT Collection, a four-month old line comprising hijabs, cardigans and beshts, social media is the ideal launchpad for modest fashion start-ups.
The Egyptian style influencer and former photographer started blogging in 2013 and currently has over 174,000 followers on Instagram.
However, in the ever-evolving world of social media, Snapchat is already taking over. “Right now Snapchat is growing at a rapid pace and people seem to like it very much because it’s spontaneous,” said Taha.
“Unlike Instagram, where you can only post a picture and write a small caption, on Snapchat you can easily share videos, track how many people screenshotted that video; they can ask questions and you can reply them.”
She still recommends Instagram as the “key social media platform” for any new designer who wants to start a business as it can help them create a following.
“When people see what I wear and that it’s easy to wear in different styles, they tend to buy it. Visuals influence people so much,” she said.
Ture concurs, saying that Instagram remains Modanisa’s main channel, even though its Facebook page has around 2 million more followers. The brand has around 509,000 followers on Instagram.
“Instagram is much more effective when you compare it with Facebook, although we’re going to try to Snapchat soon to see the reactions. Social media has really triggered the modest fashion industry.”
In the beginning though, it was Facebook that opened the doors. “We saw the light there; it was a proof of concept for us,” said Ture.
Since then, Facebook ads have become more expensive compared to 2010, when the site first launched.
Today, it costs 10 times more to catch the same audience on Facebook, according to Ture. But this has become irrelevant as Modanisa’s customers need no help in finding the portal.
“Right now, our main audience comes organically, they just type Modanisa. This is what happens when people start knowing you and memorizing your name. So we’re not spending as much money to capture the same audience,” he said.
96 PCT UNTAPPED MARKET FOR ONLINE RETAIL
Modanisa currently stocks about 3,000 apparel pieces and delivers to 75 countries.
The site gets more than 6 million visitors a month and competes head-on with Sefamerve in Turkey.
There is enough room for everyone in the growth industry; Ture estimates that only 4 percent of Muslim buyers globally are shopping online for modest clothing.
“There are still about 96 percent shopping from [physical] shops,” he said.
To reach this market, Modanisa opened two physical stores in Turkey two years ago.
“We’re trying to show them the quality of our clothing, styles and sizes. They can try them on in-store and buy later on online,” he said.
Turkey currently accounts for about 35 percent of Modanisa’s sales, while the rest of the world, including Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States, are the company’s other markets.
The majority of clothes on the retailer’s site, as much as 90 percent, come from modest clothing brands, while just 10 percent are selected from mainstream fashion labels.
For Taha, the GCC region was her initial target market and sales soon spread out to become international.
“I started it with the GCC countries in mind but I was surprised when it went global, now people from all over the world order from my collection.”
Speaking from experience (Modanisa went through a rapid expansion of 420 percent average growth year-on-year between 2011 and 2014), Ture said, “I’m confident that the modest fashion industry will be mainstream very soon.”
(Reporting by Heba Hashem)
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