Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 28 March 2020

Modestwear magazine Cover’s ambitious plan to make virtual fashion a reality

There have been several failed attempts to create an ­international modestwear-focused fashion magazine during the past decade.

Hoping to fare better is the Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC). Last May, the international organisation launched a digital magazine, Cover ­(available through a free subscription), and is following that up with a trailblazing project within its pages: a virtual fashion exhibition titled Pret-A-Cover Fashion Week (PACFW).

It is a move the council’s founder and chairwoman, Alia Khan, who lives in Dubai, believes is crucial as the infrastructure of the fashion industry shifts.

“The issue with traditional fashion weeks is that you often find participating designers ­disappointed,” she says.

“They would complain that they spent so much time, effort, and expense, yet with disappointing results in sales or even media exposure. Even the buyers don’t have the bandwidth to partake in the saturated fashion-week market.”

As an alternative, Cover readers can flip through the pages of the virtual magazine and see 10 to 20 images, in a slide-show-style format, of a designer’s collection. On the next page there is a review of the pieces, compiled by a panel of experts from Farfetch, an international luxury ecommerce website based in Portugal.

With publications such as Vogue starting to broadcast key shows live online from fashion weeks in Paris, Milan, London and New York, and brands including Burberry and Gucci beginning to consolidate their men’s and women’s collections on a single catwalk, it is clear the industry is evolving, and the traditional ways of displaying designs are changing.

Khan believes that the PACFW initiative reflects this.

“The industry needs to get disruptive,” she says. “We need to move with the times. There are far more effective and practical ways to showcase fashion in today’s world.”

An interesting feature of the PACFW virtual exhibition is that it confounds assumptions. For one thing, not all of the featured designers are Muslims, or from Muslim or Arab countries.

And, while the title of the ­magazine perhaps suggests a hijab is a ­requirement, not all of the models are pictured with their heads covered. Rather, a looser, open-minded definition of modesty is conveyed.

”Traditionally the Islamic markets have always been inclusive, that’s always been the attitude traditionally in Islam and it should carry forward,” says Khan. “In addition to that, remember our market has opened up to a strong secondary market which is the Jewish, Christian and even just the mainstream modest- fashion consumers – so they appreciate a lot of what we put out there as well.

“So we have a responsibility towards them, too, because they are very much part of the ­modest-fashion market, and it just makes things a lot more interesting and exciting when it’s opened up to everybody who has something to show or something to deliver to this market. It’s exciting for the consumers to see the variety and it’s exciting for us to see the range of talent and we hope to build on that.”

One label featured in ­Cover’s PACFW, for instance, is ­Quattromani – an Italian label headed by a male design duo. Pieces are heavily layered, and incorporate bedazzling ­embellishments.

Another is Turkish label Yesim Özcan, whose silhouettes are sleek and bold, distinguished by a contemporary, yet elegant, vibe. Other designers hail from ­countries including ­Indonesia, ­Uzbekistan, South Africa, ­Australia and the UAE. They span a range of areas within fashion, from beachwear and ready-to-wear to bridal designs.

While the clothes showcased by PACFW might be ­targeted to the Muslim market, particularly the designs that resemble abayas, thobes and kaftans, a key feature of many of the garments is versatility – most pieces are equally suitable for western consumers who might not be so modesty conscious.

A crisp white wrap-jacket from minimalism-meets-femininity label Jemmila Stockholm, for instance, can double as a below-the-knee shirtdress.

Khan reveals that each issue of Cover will feature an edition of PACFW, and she plans on ­incorporating relevant digital- publishing and technology trends throughout the ­magazine.

“We are going to come out with videos across the board – not just for PACFW,” she says. “More and more of our stories will be filled with captivating videos and new content. We understand how the audience is changing and we have every plan to change with them.”

Time will tell how exactly the slide-show format evolves in future PACFW editions. With an increased focus on interactive and engaging content – including videos, interviews and links to ecommerce perhaps – PACFW could easily become the definitive showcase for modest fashion, globally.

• Subscribe to Cover magazine at www.IFDcouncil.org

hlodi@thenational.ae

Updated: February 11, 2017 04:00 AM

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