For this Indian student, an Instagram post turned into a modest-fashion business
- 26 February 2019
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When Aemani Zimren posted pictures online of herself wearing a new scarf collection from Malaysia, it didn’t take long for her account to be inundated with messages; everyone loved them and wanted to know where she got them. Her mother then gave her an idea: Why not sell these scarves in the Indian market? And just like that, Veil It was born.
Within a rising modest-fashion industry, this undergraduate student from the South Indian city of Chennai and her mother had identified a business opportunity. “The Indian market is wide,” Aemani told My Salaam. “We are all big consumers, and we love products which are imported and of good quality.”
She said that the one thing to note about the Indian market is the weather. “Most of my clients are from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka …The weather is hot and sweaty, so the material needs to be breezy and comfortable to wear in these climatic conditions.”
And Aemani’s scarves cater to both Muslims and non-Muslims. “Since it is a small piece of clothing, girls find it a chic, easy product to carry along. I have customers from different age groups as well, which shows that it is universal.”
Veil It operates through an Instagram account that is regularly updated with pictures of scarves along with size and price details. People interested in the scarves can send her a direct message.
Youtuber Fathima Nahidha discovered her a year ago. She returned to India from Dubai three years ago to find that none of the modest-fashion brands she patronised retailed in India. “I struggled to find the perfect shade of scarves and full coverage dresses. So I did some digging. Modest fashion in India was not a thing back then, but luckily it has changed thanks to Instaprenuers [entrepreneurs on Instagram], who sell amazing products.”
Fathima added that now those who have just started trying out modest fashion will find that it’s not difficult to pick from a wide variety. She likes Veil It because of the premium quality you get for the price.
Arshiya Ilaheen, another wearer of modest fashion, has a different take: “I have always found it quite easy to shop for modest clothing in India, because a lot of Indian garments have always been steeped in a culture of inherent modesty.”
However, she has noticed the increase in what she calls modest “modern” fashion. “In recent times, the Indian market has opened up to be a more global space, and though modest ‘modern’ fashion was not always easy to find around five years ago, it is now relatively accessible because of the industry’s rapid growth and the recognition of the hijab as a symbol of modest fashion.”
Aemani also thinks that modest fashion as an industry is rapidly expanding in the country. “Indians are waiting for a good modest fashion house, as we have very little exposure to these goods.” She also told My Salaam of her plans to start a clothing line, which is currently in the research phase. “The Muslim crowd would spent any amount of money to dress well and fashionably without compromising on the religious aspects.”
For her part, Aemani mostly buys brands such as Zara and H&M and finds that Chennai offers good modest choices for the sultry weather. She does a lot of window-shopping to gain inspiration for styling items together.
Increasing choice also means more competition for modest-fashion entrepreneurs, but Aemani doesn’t see this as a problem. “Competition is always a part of business. But as long as you have found your market, and customers are satisfied with your product and services, nothing else matters. The main aim should be to establish your brand’s authenticity.”
(Writing by Susan Muthalaly; editing by Seban Scaria firstname.lastname@example.org)
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