This Saudi app could be key to boosting sales of regional modest fashion
- 04 October 2018
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Shopping via Instagram is a popular pastime in the GCC. It connects users to local fashion designers, giving the latter the opportunity to provide modest-fashion looks not available on the high street.
However, it’s not without its drawbacks. First of all, it’s not regulated; anyone can sell, with or without the right permits or quality checks, and the security of payment details and personal information remains a concern.
Fortunately, we have an alternative. Saudi entrepreneur Alanoud Al Mubarak’s app Fashtory, which was in beta over the summer, caters to Millennials’ love of social shopping but adds the security of an e-commerce portal. Now fully operational and available on Android and iOS, Fashtory will promote up-and-coming modest-fashion designer talent with shoppers in the region as well as in the rest of the world.
“I love travelling and finding unique pieces wherever I go,” the 27-year-old told My Salaam. “Following conversations with friends and families, we agreed that the current process of scrolling through Instagram or relying on word-of-mouth was too time-consuming and was not efficiently connecting designers and buyers.”
It makes business sense too, of course. The e-commerce market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is growing steadily, and thanks to increasing Internet and mobile penetration, more and more people are making purchases online. The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead the way; smartphone penetration is currently around 70 per cent, and half of all consumers are likely to shop online via their mobiles. In Egypt, meanwhile, mobile phones outnumber landline connections.
“I wanted to create a fashion directory that brought together [emerging and established] designers and buyers from all over the world,” said Al Mubarak. “I wanted to give designers a chance to become the next big thing and give fashionistas the chance to get their hands on something totally unique using an app that is straightforward and easy to use.”
Fashtory currently features around 160 brands, 43 of which can be classified as modest fashion. Categorised by country of origin, the app’s inventory sells hundreds of fashion finds including abayas, scarves, accessories, footwear, and jewellery.
“The majority of the modest-fashion designers featured on Fashtory hail from the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” Almubarak said. “It’s hard to pinpoint which modest-fashion brand is the top-performing [at present] as people do have different views and tastes, but personally, I like Pose/Arazzi designs as they are quite edgy and out-of-the-norm yet stick to modest values.”
Pose/Arazzi was launched in 2014 by Emirati sisters Hessa and Hanan Ozair, who have witnessed a “galloping growth” in the modest-fashion market over the past five years. “We should encourage the spirit of creativity in modest fashion,” the sisters remarked.
THE FUTURE IS MOBILE (SHOPPING)
As the app goes through several updates, users can look forward to a variety of additional yet-to-be-revealed features.
“Once we have a clearer picture of our user behaviour, we will be able to create a more efficient platform and further develop our user base and get a wider variety of fashion designers from new markets across the world,” Al Mubarak said. “Our vision for Fashtory is to become a global fashion directory with brands and users in every corner of the world.”
Paramount to the entrepreneur is the objective of promoting new talent to the over 26 countries the app is now available in. “We’re looking forward to seeing more creativity and design in evening wear collections and modest evening gowns,” she said. “And although we are trying to find new emerging brands and designers, both established brands and those who are just starting out are welcome to join Fashtory.”
She continued: “Fashtory serves as a directory, and we aim to serve many segments/tastes, as we are firm believers that consumers have different styles and needs, and so in order to be a global directory, we aim to please everyone.”
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