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Transforming commerce, one hijab at a time

February 6, 2018

One of the tenets of our investment thesis - built around the rapid transformation of commerce - is investing in companies leveraging data and technology to meet the needs of new, emerging or previously underserved audiences. 

 

Massive, underserved audience

One of the fastest growing audiences in the world today is the Muslim population. While the world’s total population is projected to grow 32% in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70% – from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 3 billion in 2060. Many adherents to the religion choose to follow a modest dress code, and the market for compliant, high-fashion clothing, or modest fashion, reached $230 billion in 2015.*  

 

Product/market gap

A key element of modest fashion is the hijab -- the headpiece, veil or scarf -- that many Muslim women choose to wear, covering their head and chest. On average, a woman who practices hair-covering owns 50-150 hijab in her wardrobe, as she changes them frequently based on the activity she's engaged in - whether she’s going to the gym, to work, out to dinner, to a wedding and so on.

 

Today, most hijab-wearing women in America purchase neck scarves from mass-market retailers like Target, Forever 21 and H&M, or luxury silk options from Hermes and Chanel. These scarves are not designed to be worn on the head, however, and create discomfort for wearers. And while there are “purpose-built” hijab offered by smaller or regional incumbents outside the US, they have neglected to innovate or offer a unique perspective to the target consumer -- leaving open an opportunity in an addressable market of $52B with a 10% CAGR.

 

Enter Melanie Elturk and Haute Hijab.

 

Last summer, Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital introduced us to Haute Hijab, which designs and sells high-quality, stylish, modern hijabs designed in the size, weight and material made to be worn all day long. We were intrigued and, after our very first conversation with founders Melanie Elturk and Ahmed Zedan, quickly compelled by the opportunity and excited by the brand they’ve created.

 

Brilliant, diverse founders

Melanie is the CEO we dream about investing in - a focused, dynamic and incredibly resilient leader, the kind we believe will lead and succeed, time and again. She and Ahmed, in Arlan’s words, “are two of the strongest founders I’ve ever met. They’re thoughtful and strategic, yet agile and creative.” Excited by their audience savvy, sector expertise, and Melanie’s status as a fashion icon among her customer base, we decided to join Backstage and invest in Haute Hijab, meeting our thesis by investing in a truly transformative commerce company driven by data and technology and serving a massive, underserved audience.

 

Our interest isn’t limited to market size and fast-growing, underserved audience. There’s a brand play here, too, that fits right in our wheelhouse. Haute Hijab is positioned to quickly become the market leading US hijab brand, borrowing cues from successful brands like Kate Spade and J. Crew (both of which are wildly popular in predominantly Muslim countries). Leveraging strong social media influence among Muslim women, an engaged customer base, and their deep experience in digital marketing, brand-building, and engagement with top fashion design talent, Haute Hijab is also well positioned to be the leading modest fashion brand for Muslim women around the globe. We're honored and excited to be joining them for this journey.

 

Visit: Haute Hijab 

 

*http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/06/why-muslims-are-the-worlds-fastest-growing-religious-group/

http://www.npr.org/2016/05/12/477758531/market-grows-for-fashionable-by-modest-clothing

 

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