On the ground floor of MegaStores, a mall in The Hague, Netherlands, a new 725-meter-square space is devoted to modest fashion. HazanahxNesci opened last month with over 400 visitors and 40 social influencers, and it plans to stick around there for two months.
The store is run by modest-fashion online retailers Habibe Suryana-Ayaz of Hazanah and Enaam Ahmed Ali of Nesci. According to Enaam, international modest-fashion brands such as Kashka, Buno and Verona were selected in order to cover a wide range of tastes and clothing for different occasions, from work to weddings. Feradje from London specialises in abayas with delicate embroidery, while French brand Barcha has informal tops with tongue-in-cheek slogans.
Enaam said that their process for selecting the brands they wanted to feature was to shortlist a wide range of styles and a wide range of prices, from about $23 to under $237.
HazanahxNesci is a sign of the times for retailers adapting to the demands of the Muslim market. A short walk from the Hague’s HS station, about 50 percent of the footfall at MegaStores is Muslim. According to Enaam, when MegaStores was taken over by new owners, they hired an Islamic branding agency to determine how they could cater to the Muslims in the surrounding area.
The modest-fashion pop-up store is a step forward to lure the Muslim clientele, but it helps that the clothes have a universal appeal. “Our clothes can be worn by anyone, not just Muslims,” Habibe said. Enaam concurred, saying that the reason they were invited to open a store there is because most of the clothes they feature can be worn by anyone looking for outfits that are a bit more covered than the ones available on high street: “At the opening, there was so much encouragement and excitement about the store. People said, ‘finally, they see us!’”
Seyma Erdogan, who goes by @Seymatje on Instagram, says for her, HazanahxNesci’s opening is significant because it felt like modest fashion was finally being recognised by the mainstream market. “It feels important that this shop for us [Muslimas] has opened alongside other mainstream brands. I shop at River Island and H&M, but for the first time, there is a huge store with many international modest brands to choose from.”
Enaam and Habibe plan to use the vast space for networking events, with a symposium for women’s empowerment planned in early December followed by a fashion show two weeks later. Enaam said, “We will probably wrap up end-January, as the January-to-March period is infamously bad for the retail business. But we’ve been discussing the possibility of opening another pop-up in Amsterdam.”
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