Young Southeast Asian Muslim women are more cosmopolitan and global and yet more religiously observant, according to a recent study.
Writer: Anis Muslimin
The study — conducted by the New York-based Innovation Group, J. Walter Thompson’s in-house creative think tank — provides insights into the shifting outlook of Muslim women in the region, and how that could affect the fashion, beauty, technology and food industries.
Some 1,000 Indonesian and Malaysian Muslim women were surveyed. The majority were millennials (77%) aged between 18-39 and 23% were aged 40 and over; most respondents (90%) lived in urban and suburban areas. Religion is cited as a key aspect of life for most women, with many saying Islam is “very” important to them (94%).
For starters, these findings reflect the emergence of a crop of unconventional Southeast Asian Muslim women who are more progressive and career-driven.
About a third of the women say they travel outside their country at least once a year, and nearly all felt that there are many more opportunities available for women now than in the past. However, many surveyed also felt that young women should have more freedoms than they now do, and also a stronger voice in their communities and in local and national government.
For starters, these findings reflect the emergence of a crop of unconventional Southeast Asian Muslim women who are more progressive and career-driven. U.S.-based Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna usually opts for a turban instead of a traditional headscarf.
Growth of modest fashion industry
The attitude shift is influencing the growth of the modest-fashion industry. Mainstream sports brand Nike will be launching its Nike Pro Hijab next year. In 2015, Japanese casual-fashion chain Uniqlo had introduced a modest-fashion line by U.K.-born designer Hana Tajima.
In recent years, Malaysia has witnessed the rise of local entrepreneurs in modest-fashion. Media influencers Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, founder of Naelofar Hijab, and Vivy Yusof, cofounder of FashionValet, who both have a large following on social media, are among the trailblazers in the local modest-fashion industry.
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