Chanel is now offering luxury hijabs in an effort to reach affluent Muslim consumers, taking a cue from competitors that have debuted similar offerings in recent months.
Mannequins in the Chanel storefront on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills last week were dressed in colorful hijabs, reflective of a growing trend to attract wealthy Muslim shoppers in the area. Chanel has experienced stalled growth as a result of declining global luxury sales, spurring the French fashion house to shift its attention toward new target demographics and enhanced digital strategies.
Enter the Muslim market: The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board’s 2014 report shows that visitors from Saudi Arabia had the highest per-trip spend of any international market ($4,550 per person and a collective spend of $259.3 million) while a report by Thomson Reuters notes that Muslim shoppers spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013 and are projected to spend $484 billion by 2019.
For fashion retailers and publishers alike, the Middle East has become a hotbed of opportunity. Last week, Vogue launched Vogue Arabia, debuting as a website run by editor-in-chief Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz and a staff of 20 reporters that will be available in Arabic and English in advance of a forthcoming print publication in the spring.
“The region is in the middle of a creative renaissance, and technology has played a big part in that. Fashion is in the throes of reinventing itself,” Shashi Menon, publisher of Vogue Arabia, told Glossy last week.
Muslim spending power in the luxury fashion market is expected to continue to swell, particularly as the number of Muslims in the world — who currently comprise 23 percent of the total world population — is expected to approach reach 2.8 billion by 2050, just shy of the projected 2.9 billion Christians, according to a Pew Research report.
In response, luxury retailers have increasingly marketed to Muslim shoppers over the past two years. Dolce & Gabbana launched a line of hijabs and abayas in January and Uniqlo following suit in March. DKNY and Tommy Hilfiger both launched capsule collections for Ramadan the previous year, while brands like Zara and Oscar de la Renta also launched products targeted to Muslim shoppers, including conservative outfits and headcoverings.
A look from the Dolce & Gabanna hijab line
Looks from the Ramadan capsule collection by Tommy Hilfiger
The Chanel hijab also comes on the heels of France’s controversial ban of the burkini this summer, in which Muslim women were forbidden from wearing the full-body swimsuit at beaches. Viral outrage ensued after video of French police forcing a woman to remove her suit was shared on the internet, leading to skyrocketing sales for burkini companies, according to designer Aheda Zanetti who has been credited with creating the design. She told The New York Times sales increased by 200 percent in the aftermath of the incident.
Personal shopper Nicole Pollard Bayme told The Hollywood Reporter that her clientele includes Middle Eastern women who have long been waiting for more inclusive luxury fashion. “It is about time that these brands are finally paying attention to their customer,” Pollard Bayme said. “Now that these fashion houses are a part of big conglomerates, the money is speaking and they are becoming more savvy; these customers are their bread and butter.”
Chanel has not been shy in its efforts to become more globally focused. The French fashion house became the subject of outcry when it hosted a fashion show in Cuba in May, which some consumers argued was exploitative and opportunistic. Among the biggest concerns was that in addition to Chanel only being offered at a very select amount of department stores in the country, the average population makes $20 a month. It also held a fashion show in the affluent country of Dubai in 2014, where it debuted Middle Eastern-inspired looks.