Qatar’s abaya fashion industry sees excellent business opportunities on several online platforms, especially on social media channels such as Instagram.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Qatari entrepreneurs in the fashion industry increased day by day, with heavy competition in the region.
Khuloud Al Sahlawi, designer and owner of Eternity Abayas said, “At the beginning of the pandemic, my sales were not affected at all. It even increased online purchasing by up to 30 percent. I also started doing videos on Instagram so that they can see the exact model, size, and colors of the abayas. I was still receiving orders from other countries in the GCC region and worldwide including the UK and US. There were still many customers buying from me for the Eid and Ramadan.”
“I had to do something. I used my creativity and expanded the business. We’re now in the middle of recovery. And we’re seeing sales starting to pick up again gradually. But the online sales have sustained the business,” Ms. Al Sahlawi added.
Huda Al Khuleifi, designer and owner of White Abaya said, “At the middle of the pandemic, the shop had to close for four months. People were not wearing abayas because there were no gatherings. But people are starting to go out more now, and we also have the vaccines. Even my other (abaya designer) friends are also having more sales now.”
Ms. Al Khuleifi is optimistic that the sale of abayas will pick up with more public gatherings opening up again. Also, she said that most of her sales come from her online store on Instagram.
“Selling online is faster and easier. They can see the abayas and make their orders online. The customers also prefer to have their orders delivered to their homes. They only tell me their measurements; I make the abayas and have them delivered to the clients. It’s all online now. All businesses, even for abayas,” Ms. Al Khuleifi added.
The Qatari market for abayas has grown more competitive. So, entrepreneurs need to be more innovative in order to stay in the industry.
“It’s a big market. And we have to be updated with the fashion line. When I started in 2012, there were only a few Qatari designers, like only four to five pure Qatari brands. And I was one of them. But now, over 90 percent of the participants here at the expo are Qatari abaya designers,” said Ms. Al Sahlawi.
Ms. Al Khuleifi added, “The market is changing. The ladies used to wear all black abayas only. But now, they are starting to wear abayas with other colors, such as white and even brighter colors like pink and blue. The trends are changing.”
According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019-20, Muslim consumers spend over $283 billion on clothing and footwear worldwide. It added that the Islamic clothing market is expected to rise to $402 billion by 2024, with a huge potential to take a large part of the global apparel market.