Modest growth for Japan's clothing industry – The National

Tokyo // Muslim trend exporters are vying to enter the Japanese market for "modest" clothing regardless of the comparatively small native Muslim inhabitants.

And so they suppose they will succeed right here.

Estimates of the Muslim inhabitants in Japan range between 70,000 and 150,000 among the many nation’s complete of greater than 126 million folks. The Japanese common trend market, nonetheless, isn't small – and forecast to develop from US$63.72 billion final 12 months to $72.72bn by 2020, in keeping with the info compiler Statista.

The Japan Muslim Trend Affiliation (JMFA) president and chief govt Shinichi Orita says there may be sound potential for Muslim trend exporters to Japan. The 25-member affiliation was based in April 2015.

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At a look:

What: Exporters of Muslim trend are concentrating on Japan.

Why: An increase in home consciousness and the variety of overseas vacationers is boosting demand.

Additional studying:Japan’s tourism industry is also going halal

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"By way of Muslim trend, we goal to have Japanese perceive Muslims, in addition to to have foreigners perceive the Japanese," Mr Orita says.

Among the many causes for his optimism about Muslim trend exporters’ possibilities of success in Japan, Mr Orita cites the Japanese authorities’s Go to Japan Marketing campaign, the curiosity in Japan introduced on by the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and the easing of visa rules for nations with a big Muslim inhabitants, comparable to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. All this can enhance the variety of Muslim guests and, subsequently, customers, he says.

"The setting for Muslims is steadily enhancing right here. As well as, the Japanese kimono has an affinity with ‘Muslim trend’, as there's a [traditional] tradition to cowl the pores and skin" amongst Japanese folks, he says.

The Dubai-primarily based Islamic Trend and Design Council is more and more seeing a requirement from Japanese customers for a extra modest pattern, says its chairwoman, Alia Khan. "So we have to discover the Japanese market a bit higher," she says.

There's a very massive overlap between modest and Muslim trend, Ms Khan says. For instance, the abaya is usually used as an overcoat or trenchcoat in western nations. "In Japan, there's a kimono model of the abaya," she says.

Underlining the rising curiosity within the nation’s Muslim trend market, the primary Muslim trend present was held right here in November. Organised by Halal Media Japan, based in 2014 with a mission to make the nation "Muslim-pleasant", the Tokyo Modest Trend Present ran concurrently with the third Halal Expo Japan.

The Malaysia-primarily based Rina Salleh Clothing was among the many exhibitors on the trend present. A modest informal put on and hijab model launched on-line in 2009, the enterprise now additionally runs 5 retailers in Peninsular Malaysia. Throughout the two exhibition days, the corporate talked with these interested by bringing the model to Japan, the agency’s director Afiq Iskandar Razizad says.

Mr Razizad says he met operators of retail chains who expressed curiosity in putting his firm’s merchandise in a few of their retailers in Japan’s subway stations, and a few who had been interested by changing into a Rina Salleh Clothing agent in Japan. Not lengthy after the present ended, the corporate appointed a Japan agent to market its merchandise on-line within the nation. "We're additionally wanting for a much bigger alternative to distribute our merchandise in Japan," Mr Razizad says.

One other firm, Meem Clothings of Singapore, which specialises in designing jubahs and attire for occasions in addition to on a regular basis put on, additionally exhibited. Though the corporate didn't land any contracts, its proprietor says the expertise and media publicity its crew of designers received was past what they anticipated. "Being featured on [Al Jazeera’s] Aj+ [TV station] received lots of people interested by my model and there are folks right here who're interested by working" with the corporate, says Meem’s founder and designer, Nur Hanis.

"Being the primary to enter Tokyo would profit us, as that is an untapped market that I imagine can be rising," she says.

Additionally from Singapore, Fatimah Mohsin specialises in bridal attire, additionally creating prepared-to-put on modest gadgets. Ms Mohsin participated on the trend present for the primary time final 12 months and says she was targeted on elevating the picture of her model. "The halal market is rising extensively in Japan of late, with rising consciousness of modest trend being a part of that," she says.

"As my designs are primarily throughout the modest trend sector, Japan could be a very good stepping stone in my plans to broaden my enterprise abroad," Ms Mohsin says.

Nonetheless, Japan’s sluggish economic system might make it harder to spice up income for exporters. Within the first eight months of final 12 months, the worth of complete attire imports to Japan was down by eight.5 per cent in contrast with the identical interval a 12 months earlier than, in keeping with the commerce web site apparelresources. But, the quantity registered a 12 months-on-12 months enhance of three. per cent. The worth within the knitted section was down by eight.7 per cent, whereas within the woven section worth fell by eight.three per cent. However, when it comes to quantity, each knitted and woven segments registered a rise of three.four per cent and a pair of.5 per cent, respectively.

To reach the Japanese market, exporters should additionally perceive the peculiarities of the Japanese trend distribution system, Mr Orita says. In Japan, small and medium enterprises make up nearly all of firms. There may be additionally an enormous language barrier, so hiring an agent is a powerful requirement, he provides.

However contemplating the small variety of Muslims within the nation, success may also depend on acceptance – and purchases – by feminine non-Muslims, says Mr Orita, including that the standard Japanese kimono has an affinity with Muslim clothing. "There are few Muslims among the many Japanese, however their [traditional] mind-set is nearer to the teachings of Islam" relating to correct apparel, he says.

"In Japan, there are few folks with particular spiritual beliefs, however the will to know religions could be very robust" among the many Japanese, Mr Orita says.

Yo Nonaka, who specialises in Islamic research and is the college of coverage administration professor at Keio College’s Graduate Faculty of Media and Governance, echoes Mr Orita’s sentiments. Many Japanese ladies don't suppose that revealing pores and skin is appropriate, Ms Nonaka says. "I feel that Japan, like different Asian nations, has historically had a tradition that hides the pores and skin," she says.

"So, in truth, Japanese ladies’s affinity with Muslim trend is powerful," she says.

However Ms Nonaka is much less sure of the potential for exporters of Muslim trend to Japan. Because the Japanese market remains to be small, she thinks it will be prudent for firms to look elsewhere additionally. "It could be doable to promote on-line for Japan whereas specializing in creating enterprise in abroad markets," she says.

Though she focuses primarily on overseas markets, the Japanese designer Rieka Inoue has discovered a center street, designing garments that may attraction each to Muslims and non-Muslim Japanese ladies. In Japan, many ladies think about untanned pores and skin lovely, in order that they put on lengthy sleeves even in the summertime, Ms Inoue says. "Modest trend doesn't imply Muslim trend, it's a new trend class," she says.

Her fellow Japanese designer Noriko Murakami makes solely hijabs. She discovered an curiosity within the clothing some years in the past when she was making frequent journeys to Malaysia. Girls there have been complaining in regards to the discomfort of sporting polyester hijabs in the summertime warmth. "So I made a decision to start out by first introducing abroad folks to hijabs made with good Japanese supplies," Ms Murakami says.

"Following my launch into overseas markets, I feel I can penetrate little by little the Muslim market in Japan," she says.

Ms Nonaka says massive Japanese manufacturers comparable to Uniqlo at the moment are utilizing the time period "modest trend" and she or he believes that's one thing exporters and native designers ought to think about.

"I feel that utilizing the time period ‘modest’ is a declaration that the market isn't restricted to simply Muslims, and that will make the style extra interesting to non-Muslims."

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