Macy’s is the latest U.S. brand to tap into the growing Islamic clothing market, after Nike last year debuted a hijab designed for female Muslim athletes, American Eagle began selling denim hijabs, and DKNY launched its Ramadan collection of long, flowing dresses in 2014.
International retailers, from casual chains such as Uniqlo and H&M to luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta, have begun courting fashion-conscious Muslim women in recent years as they’ve become viewed as a lucrative consumer market with a youthful and fast-growing demographic. Boutique businesses featuring modest fashion such as Louella, founded by U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, have also recently emerged in this country.
Macy’s, though, is the first major U.S. retailer to offer a wide variety of modest clothing at a more affordable price point, said Sabiha Ansari, co-founder of the American Muslim Consumer Consortium.
“It’s about time that this happened in the U.S.,” Ansari said, noting that the outreach toward Muslim women is occurring after Macy’s stock prices have plummeted for years. “I hope that Macy’s sees an influx in its bottom line, and that it encourages other retailers to start paying attention to this demographic.”
Ansari predicted the collection would also appeal to non-Muslim women looking for less revealing fashionable options, citing the difficulty her Jewish and Catholic friends also have finding appropriate clothing. She applauded Macy’s message of inclusivity at a time when Muslims are being vilified in political discourse and travelers from some majority-Muslim countries are still being barred from entering the United States.
Macy’s executives were not immediately available to discuss how Muslim women fit in the company’s retail strategy, but Muslim consumers are projected to spend more than $368 billion on fashion by 2021, according to the latest State of the Global Islamic Economy Report by Thomson Reuters. The Muslim market for clothing ranks third behind the United States and China.
The new line, branded the Verona Collection, was founded by Lisa Vogl, a fashion photographer and convert to Islam who graduated from Macy’s development program for minority- and women-owned businesses. The program was started in 2011 to diversify the company’s merchandise suppliers.
Vogl said she started her company online after finding it hard to shop for modest and fashionable clothing that was also affordable. She opened Verona Collection’s first brick and mortar store in Orlando in 2016, one of the first Islamic-wear stores in a mainstream U.S. mall. But Vogl told The Post that the Macy’s partnership presents an opportunity to showcase her collection to an even wider audience on a much larger scale.
Vogl’s pieces for Macy’s range in price from $13 to $85 and include ruffled high-neck tunics, flowy jumpsuits and bell-sleeve ankle-length cardigans. Macy’s spokesman Billy Dume said the collection will only be sold online, for the time being.