Malaysia Taps Into the Islamic Fashion Market

Malaysia Fashion WeekWhen we think of traditional Islamic garb, our minds tend to gravitate toward the stereotypical image of a woman swathed in formless black robes. But as Malaysian designers have recently shown us, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Enter the Islamic Fashion Festival, which ran from Nov. 4-8, as part of the 2009 Malaysia International Fashion Week (M-IFW). According to the BBC, Malaysia is making a move to bring traditional Muslim dress into the fashion mainstream, hoping to reposition themselves as the center of Islamic fashion. Half of Malaysia's citizens are Muslim, and its religious regulations are more lenient than those in the Middle East, making it a prime spot for the budding Islamic fashion market.

Among them were Malaysian designer Tom Abang Saufi, who showcased brightly colored silk chiffon in her collection, and Nuraini Mohammed Ariffin, who designed an Islamic version of a four-piece swimsuit, complete with head scarf, swim cap, sleeveless wet suit, and zip-up tunic.

"I am proud to say that at least we have proven that Islam, or Islamic activities, is not a platform that will frighten non-Muslims away,” said festival founder and chairman Dato’ Raja Rezza Shah.

Photo of a design by Jeny Jayawati by AP Photo/Vincent Thian via Yahoo! News