By Alicia Buller
2017 could be a landmark year for the UK’s entrepreneurs. An expanding roster of Muslim trade events is serving as a springboard for Britain’s fledgling Islamic fashion designers, travel operators, chefs, retailers, financiers and business folk. Besides annual staple conferences like the Muslim Lifestyle Show, Muslim Lifestyle Expo and The London Halal Food Show, this year will also see the first London Modest Fashion Week hosted in February by Haute Elan.
My Salaam asked some of the UK’s top entrepreneurs to look into their crystal balls to predict the major Islamic economy trends of 2017. Here’s what they had to say.
Abdulhamid Evans, founder, Imarat Consultants
In 2017, we will see more homegrown Muslim brands, and many of them will also appeal to non-Muslims.
Halal food will take off in a big way. Fresh, accessible food brands such as Haloodies are examples of how modern branding can give the products broad appeal to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The UK government is also likely to turn more attention to the Islamic economy and launch more initiatives to support both Muslim entrepreneurship and foreign inward investment.
Ufuk Secgin, Chief Marketing Officer, HalalBooking.com
The trend in the Muslim-friendly tourism market is towards halal-friendly beach resorts with segregated indoor and outdoor pools. There is a growing demand for women-only beach areas that offer 100 per cent privacy.
We have also seen more demand for these types of resorts in other destinations such as the UAE, Langkawi in Malaysia and Lombok in Indonesia. Private pool villas in Western non-Muslim countries are also becoming popular in destinations such as Spain and Malta. We will also see more and more customers booking halal-friendly hotels for city breaks in destinations such as London, Istanbul, Dubai and the Swiss and Austrian Alps.
Tahir Mirza, founder, The Muslim Lifestyle Expo
I believe the modest-fashion sector will continue to grow rapidly simply because the global commercial opportunity for mainstream brands is too big to ignore.
I foresee an exciting convergence taking place between high-street brands collaborating with upcoming Muslim fashion houses and designers to reach the Muslim consumer and non-Muslim consumers.
The halal-food market is also expanding. Here we could see more exciting products reaching mainstream audiences. If the brand campaign is aimed at the wider audience and the quality is there, I don’t see why a halal and Muslim-owned product can’t become a success.
Romanna Bint Abubaker, CEO and founder, Haute Elan
I believe we will see much greater consolidation in the modest-fashion market. There has been quite the flurry over the last year in the modest-fashion space, in particular in the UK multi-brand marketplace. Unfortunately, many of these are now collapsing. The market for marketplaces is tough, and building traction takes years and not months.
I think we will start to see the first acquisitions in this space and greater international penetration outside the traditional modest-fashion markets. New markets such as India, Pakistan and Iran will be more visible.
Alia Khan, founder, Islamic Fashion and Design Council
Our mission to generate interest across the board so that retailers agree to a Pret-A-Cover section or department in their stores that will accommodate the modest-fashion consumer. Recently, online fashion boutique, Farfetch, agreed to collaborate with our initiative, the world’s first virtual fashion week: Pret-A-Cover Fashion Week.
We saw that 2016 was an exciting year for modest fashion, and there’s more to come! I believe the growth will only get more impressive, and modest fashion is going to save the day for those who have been complaining about business in fashion and retail lately.
Imran Kausar and Noman Khawaja, co-founders, Haloodies
Imran: We will see more interest from mainstream food buyers and gradually the more established market mainstream sectors will start to go halal. We will see the emergence of newer brands; previously we’ve had products, not brands. There will also be an increase in preference for unstunned meat.
Noman: The biggest trend will be in the convenience and health sectors; more companies will make products to cater for today’s modern, busy lifestyle. We will see more bloggers engaging with halal consumers, and social media will become a bigger part of halal brands.
Brian Adams, co-founder, Islamic Wealth Management
I think the UK Islamic finance sector will remain fairly stable over the next 12 months and any new service providers will wait until Brexit issues are clearer.
The same issues will exist around consistent messaging across the Muslim community about what is and what isn’t Shariah. The need to educate the community is paramount for the growth of the financial sector. All parties need to pull together, have a consistent messaging system, and approach the Muslim market in a sensible and structured manner.