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Indonesia is in a great position to become the world’s leading nation in terms of Islamic fashion. Why? Well, with a population of around 265 million people (with nearly 90 percent adhering to Islam) Indonesia has a (potentially) huge customer base. Secondly, prosperity in Southeast Asia’s largest economy is rising as evidenced by growing per capita income and the expanding middle class. As more and more Indonesians escape poverty and rise in the ranks of the middle class, they have less need to focus solely on basic needs and have (more) money to spend on non-basic needs, such as fashion.
Thirdly, Indonesia is a secular country – and not a Muslim country – implying that conservative Islamic law is not too influential in the country’s fashion industry. Obviously there exists a clear influence of Islam (or generally: religion) on local fashion in Indonesia. However, contrary to a Muslim country such as Saudi Arabia, where there is a much more (longstanding) conservative approach towards clothing (for both men and women), in Indonesia there exists much more room for people (and especially for women) to wear fashionable clothes or make-up. In other words, there is less restriction in Indonesia for Muslim women to beautify themselves in front of males other than their husbands or family members. This therefore allows more room for fashion.
However, as mentioned above, religion (and in particular Islam) does have a clear influence on fashion in Indonesia. Fashion that reveals ‘too much’ skin is frowned upon by a big portion of the Indonesian population. Only a small portion of Indonesian women (dare to) wear revealing clothes in the country's urban centers.
This context therefore paves the way for the existence of a thriving modest fashion industry. The term modest fashion refers to a fashion trend of wearing less skin-revealing clothes. And although the exact interpretation of 'modest' (or ‘too much skin’) varies across cultures and countries due to different socio-cultural characteristics, it is agreed upon that modest fashion refers to “loose clothing and comfortable dressing, while covering the body according to the person's own comfort”. Or - in other words - the modest fashion industry is focused on making clothes that cover most parts of the female body, while allowing women to experiment with the latest trends.
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