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Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business

Vol. 1, Issue. 4, April 2011(pp.94-100)

A review of influencing factors and constructs on the Iranian womens Islamic fashion market

Kambiz Heidarzadeh Hanzaee 1 and Shahrzad Chitsaz 2


Department of Business Management, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

ABSTRACT The purpose of this paper is to clarify factors and constructs influencing the womens fashion market at legal, societal, and individual levels in Iran. A clear understanding of legal and societal factors helps fashion marketers to touch the main roots, social reality and philosophy of hijab dress in this country. On the other hand, individual variables and constructs can be studied to recognize different generations, classes of society and orders of religiosity among Iranian women, which will explain their fashion-buying behavior. This conceptual study is based on some academic papers and professionals practical viewpoints about Islamic marketing. In addition, the paper utilizes necessary religion sources and legal documents. In some parts, authors present their real experiences about the societal context of Iran. Five legal and societal factors influencing the womens fashion market have been presented. These are Shariah, Fatwa and Ijma, the Islamic penal code of Iran, governmental policies, and national culture. Three individual variables and constructs affecting womens buying behavior have also been identified. These are demographic and lifestyle variables and personal religious constructs. The characteristics, importance and applications of these factors and variables are discussed. Iran is an Islamic country that has adopted the policy of necessary hejab (veil) by setting standards of modest dress for women. For this reason, more endeavors are needed to understand factors affecting the womens fashion market in this country. In addition, there is a lack of social, psychological, and womens studies from the perspective of Islamic fashion about Iranian women. This paper attempts to clarify some aspects of the subject to direct some propositions for future research. Keywords- Fashion marketing, women, hijab, Islam, Iran

1. INTRODUCTION The global Muslim population comprises one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world, hence representing a major growth opportunity for businesses around the globe, including in the fashion sector (Rosmah Mansor, 2010). Targeting this market and providing consumers with halal product alternatives could bring significant benefits to the fashion industries as well as food and beverage manufacturers (Bird, 2008). Islamic dressing is a style of its own, and today it is beginning to attract more and more attention, as mainstream trends become increasingly bold and provocative. This recent interest in Muslim fashion also signals the changing dynamics of the ever-increasing interaction among Eastern and Western cultures. Nowadays Muslims, especially
1 Kambiz heidarzadeh Hanzaee is an Associate Professor of Marketing, Department of Business Management, School of Management and Economics, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran. He can be conducted at: heidarzadeh@srbiau.ac.ir 2 Shahrzad Chitsaz is a PhD Student of Marketing, Department of Business Management, School of Management and Economics, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran. She is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: sh_chitsaz@yahoo.com

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business

Vol. 1, Issue. 4, April 2011(pp.94-100)

Muslim women, can choose from a broad selection of designs to create a look that matches their values, traditions and tastes without compromising any of the three (Rosmah Mansor, 2010). Some global marketers seek to enter the Muslim fashion markets for the first time or increase relevance in their existing Muslim markets. On the other hand, regional marketers seeking to expand their horizons to whole Muslim markets or existing Islamic brands are looking for deeper understanding of their current consumer base. For Western brands, the challenges are more daunting. While Islamic audiences love the Western big brands, they want their own for two reasons. Firstly, many brands are not yet compliant with Islamic values, and secondly, Islamic countries want to create their own global brands that they see as strategic business assets and national brand ambassadors. Western brands have the marketing and branding expertise but often lack the cultural awareness and local knowledge to penetrate Islamic markets successfully (Tempora, 2010). In addition, Muslim countries should not be treated as a homogenous fashion market. They are quite different in cultural values, consumer behaviours, and marketing practices. The absence of a core country in the Muslim fashion world makes Islam values harder for outsiders to understand (Shuayto, 2010). Each Muslim country tends to have its unique version of Islamic law incorporated into their legal system (Muhamad Hashim & Mizerski, 2010). Some Islamic countries tend to adopt a more comprehensive version of Islamic law than others. For example, Iran is an Islamic country that has adopted the policy of necessary hejab (veil) by setting standards of modest dress for women. For this reason, more endeavors are needed to understand factors affecting the womens fashion market in this country. This paper attempts to clarify factors and constructs influencing the womens fashion market at legal, societal, and individual levels in Iran. The first part is an opening concerning the Halal market and industry and the position of Halal fashion in the context. The next discussion is related to the meaning of Islamic hejab (veil) in general and its special condition in Iran. The third part presents legal and societal factors influencing the womens fashion market, and the last part pertains to individual variables and constructs affecting womens buying behavior in the fashion market. 2. Halal market and fashion products position

Study of consumer behaviour is vital when it comes to marketing of Halal products. The fact of the matter is Muslim consumers are very much similar to any other consumer segments, demanding healthy and quality products, which must also conform to Shariah (Islamic system of life) requirements (Harran & Low, 2008). Halal is an Arabic word meaning permissible in Islam, and the Halal market, i.e. products that are Shariah-compliant, represents a significant portion of Islamic countries economies. The Halal industry includes three main categories: food, lifestyle, and services. (Alserhan, 2010). Halal fashion is one of the Halal lifestyle areas. Halal lifestyle can include other subjects such as beauty, jewelry and luxury goods, automotive, interiors, arts, and cultural products. 3. Islamic hejab (veil) and its condition in Iran Veiling, for Islam, is usually understood as a Quranic injunction requiring women's modest dress (Gkarksel & Secor, 2009). The hijab dress code stipulates that women should cover their entire body, except their face and palms, with clothing in public. One of the common misconceptions is that Islamic womens clothes are based on obsolete and old-fashioned principles dominated by monotonous black and oversized dresses. But the truth is that Islamic clothing, while necessarily modest, does not necessarily sacrifice the basic elements of style, fashion, elegance and dignity (Mulali, 2009). Beauty is a characteristic of a person and is perceived also from a religious perspective, interpreted within the context of Shariah. Islam does not scorn or debase physical and visual beauty (Muhammad, 2008). A Muslim woman can actually meet Islamic law and at the same time enjoy Hijab fashion beauties (Mulali, 2009). Iran is an Islamic country that has adopted the policy of necessary hejab (veil) by setting standards of modest dress for women, and women have no choice to veil or not. They can choose their public clothing from some combinations of manteaus, trousers or long skirts to cover their entire body and headscarves, maqneas (a kind of headscarf) or chadors to veil their head and hair. Necessary official dress is a combination of manteaus, trousers and maqneas in modest and plain colors.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business

Vol. 1, Issue. 4, April 2011(pp.94-100)

4. Influencing legal and societal factors on the womens fashion market There are some main legal and societal factors influencing the womens fashion market in Iran. A clear understanding of these factors helps fashion marketers to touch the main roots, social reality and philosophy of hijab dress in this country. 4.1 Shariah, Quran and Hadith In Islam, the source of power is Allah, or God, and all the creation obeys his laws. The Islamic system of life is called Shariah (Rehman & Shabbir, 2010). There are two primary sources of normative ethics in Shariah. The first and most important source is the Quran. Muslims accept the Quran as the verbatim word of Allah, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (P). The second primary source is called Sunnah or Hadith, which means the words, actions, and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (P). Both primary sources offer broad principles and guidelines for conducting Islamic life (Beekun & Badawi, 2005). The hijab dress code could be seen from three Quranic verses as follows: O prophet, tell your wives, your daughters and the believing women to draw their veils close to them, so it is likelier they will be known, and not hurt. Allah is the forgiver, the most merciful. (Al-Quran 33:59) Or Do not display your finery as pagan women used to do in the olden da ys of ignorance (Al-Quran 33:33) Also Do not reveal their adornment except that which is outward (face and hands); and let them draw their veils over their neck (Al-Quran 24:33) Furthermore, there are some authentic Hadithes that directly point to the necessity of hijab for women. 4.2 Fatwa and Ijma After the Prophet Muhammad (P) died, the majority of Muslim scholars established a new source of Shariah rulings to adapt the law to new issues that may arise through time and across cultures. This source is known as fatwa (Muhamad Hashim & Mizerski, 2010). In Shia Islam, followed by the majority of Irans population, the Muslim scholar is named Mujtahid. It is necessary for the Mujtahid to be male, mature, sane, Shia Ithna Ashari, of legitimate birth, living and just (Adil). A Muslim should follow a Mujtahid in the branches of religion, i.e. practical laws or codes of practice (Makarem Shirazi, 2010). Ijma refers ideally to the consensus of the scholars of Islam (Wikipedia, 2010). Iranian Mujtahids have similar Fatwas about hijab subjects, which means they have consensus (Ijma) on necessity of hijab dress. In addition, most of them have similar viewpoints about suitable and modest colours and models in dress designing. 4.3 Islamic penal code of Iran According to the Islamic penal code of Iran, note of article 638, some penalties are enacted about disobeying Islamic hijab. 4.4 Governmental policies Governments (Dowlat) and parliaments (Majlis) ruling parties have a very prominent affect on hijab policies. Not all of parties have the strict viewpoints about hijab, and more fashionable and stylish models are acceptable based on their cultural policies. 4.5 National culture There is some historical evidence revealing hijab cultures roots in ancient Iran. In addition, Iranians adopted Islam 14 centuries ago. Consequently, there is a spirit of hejab culture in national and traditional Iranian costume.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business

Vol. 1, Issue. 4, April 2011(pp.94-100)

Therefore, designers may have Iranian and Islamic references for more inspiration or to cater to the market, which will eventually increase sales. Influencing legal and societal factors are illustrated in figure 1. 5. Affecting individual variables and constructs on womens fashion -buying behavior Individual variables and constructs can be divided into demographic and lifestyle variables and personal religious constructs affecting Iranian womens fashion-buying behavior. These variables and constructs can be studied to recognize different generations, classes of society and orders of religiosity among Iranian women that will explain their fashion-buying behavior. 5.1 Demographic variables Age: Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world. According to the Iran National Statistics web site, around 70% of Irans citize ns are under the age of 30. Most young Iranian women, as many other young women in the world, like eye-catching models in their dress. They certainly do not want to purchase plain and simple clothes. They prefer bright colors, modern patterns and cuts, and more fitted dresses. Sometimes challenges occur between their wants and existing hijab policies. The winner will be a marketer who can create a fashion approach complying with both legal and societal factors and meeting the desires of the young generation. Education level: In Iran, women's education levels are rising at a much faster rate than mens are. The growth and expansion of the well-educated female population and their awareness of global society makes them more dress and fashion conscious. They want a veiling fashion satisfying their subjectivity and presenting their position as urban, educated, and tasteful women who are Muslim and modern. Employment and income: The increasing employment rate among women is very noticeable in recent years. In addition, Iranian women are attempting to attain a more equal share in the high-ranking official positions of the executive. They are not only seeking a fashion style demonstrating their job position but also are willing to pay high prices for fashion dresses. In fact, they are able and willing to spend an appropriate share of their income for their own appearance. 5.2 An important lifestyle Intellectual women and social activist: Islamic teaching greatly emphasizes the importance of education and encourages womens participation in all public spheres (Hamdan, 2006). Women have been one of the most important social groups in the Iranian social movement in recent decades. Iranian female university members, intellectuals, journalists and social activists have raised the standards of thinking and living in Iran. They are one of the most sophisticated buyer groups. Although they believe that men and women have the same and equal social, religious and moral duties and responsibilities, they are completely aware of their femininity and respect their own womanhood. They have different ideas in their mind and attempt to reproduce a new and modern reading of Islam, especially about women. They want a fashion style reflecting their intellectuality, equal position with men, femininity, and great ambitions. 5.3 Personal religious construct Understanding the influence of religion on human behavior is complicated. According to Muhamad and Mizerski (2010), based on religious psychology literature and marketing studies, the influence of religion on consumer behavior is found to be mediated through five factors. These factors include an individuals religious affiliation, his or her commitment to religious beliefs and practices, the extent of his or her religious knowledge in his or her views and perceptions on societal issues, and his or her motivation in following his or her religion. Religious affiliation is a categorical measure of the religion to which one is affiliated. Consumers affiliated with different religions tend to show different shopping styles. Nonetheless, other factors such as culture, ethnicity, or lifestyle could have contributed to the differences between consumers from different religious affiliations. In fact, religious affiliation did not have a significant effect in several areas of buyer behaviors. Religious commitment is widely termed religiosity and is said to represent an individuals adherence to his or her religions beliefs and practices. Consumers commitment in performing religious activities, rather than their beliefs in religious doctrines, has an effect in their responses in regards to their behaviors in the marketplace. Religious orientation refers to ones

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business

Vol. 1, Issue. 4, April 2011(pp.94-100)

approach in following their religion, and usually is based on the intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives of motivation. Individuals who are intrinsically motivated toward their religion are characterized as having a greater tendency to fully integrate their religion into their life, as well as adhere to the religion because it is perceived to be their prime objective in their life. The extrinsically religious individual tends to selectively adopt religious teachings to suit their goals in life. This concept is reported to be the most useful approach in understanding the influence of a religions influences on human behavior (Muhamad & Mizerski, 2010). Religious orientation and motivation appears to be the most credible factor in describing religious influences on womens fashion-buying behavior in Irans marketplace. It will be very useful to analyze Iranian womens religious orientation and motivation to find relations between this construc t and other demographic variables and lifestyle characteristics. Since Iran is governed by an Islamic system most women, especially educated ones, have relatively deep knowledge about Islamic teachings and are aware of their societal consequences. Affecting individual variables and constructs are illustrated in figure 2. 6. CHALLENGES AHEAD AND CONCLUSION Iran has been recognized as a country with a complicated culture and history. Some parts of this intricacy can be sought in historical relations between Iran and Islam, Iran and the West, and the history of intellectuality in Iran. Hijab and Islamic fashion may be considered as a coincidence of these four subjects (Iran, Islam, West and intellectuality). On the other hand, Iran suffers from some lack of social, psychological, and womens studies. Such challenges confront marketers and may dissuade them from planning to enter Irans womens fashion market. Although we could introduce some of the influencing societal factors and individual variables, we believe that studies that will be developed on these factors and variables can shed light on the main dark areas. They will help marketers to set hijab fashion programs targeting different segments based on age categories, education levels, job positions and income, elite groups, and religious orders with different orientation and sources of motivation. The challenge will be to follow current Iranian trends without disregarding the legal and societal stipulations for Iranian Muslim womens clothing. REFERENCES 1. Alserhan, B.A. (2010). On Islamic branding: Brands as good deeds. Journal of Islamic Marketing, 1(2), 101-106. 2. Beekun, R.I, & Badawi, J.A. (2005). Balancing ethical responsibility among multiple organizational stakeholders: The Islamic perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 1(60), 131-145. 3. Bird, K. (2008). Cosmetics companies could benefit from targeting Muslim market . Retrieved from http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com 4. Gkarksel, B., & Secor, A.J. (2009). New transnational geographies of Islamism, capitalism and subjectivity: The veiling-fashion industry in Turkey. Area, 41(1), 6-18. 5. Hamdan, A. (2006). Arab womens education and gender perceptions: An insider analysis. Journal of International Womens Studies, 8(1). Retrieved from http://www.bridgew.edu/soas/jiws/ 6. Harran, S.A., & Low, P. (2008). Marketing of halal products: The way forward. The Halal Journal. Retrieved from http://www.halaljournal.com 7. Makarem Shirazi, N. (2010). Rulings of Taqlid. Retrieved from http://english.makarem.ir/masael/ 8. Muhamad Hashim, N., & Mizerski, D. (2010). Exploring Muslim consumers information sources for fatwa rulings on products and behaviors. Journal of Islamic Marketing, 1(1), 37-50. 9. Muhamad, N., & Mizerski, D. (2010). The constructs mediating religions influence on buyers and consumers. Journal of Islamic Marketing, 1(2), 124-135. 10. Muhammad, Z. (2008). Islam and the obsession of beauty. The Halal Journal. Retrieved from http://www.halaljournal.com 11. Mulali, A. (2009). Hijab fashion and Islamic clothing: Hot and trendy. Retrieved from http://www.ideamarketers.com 12. Rehman, A.U., & Shabbir, M. Sh. (2010). The relationship between religiosity and new product adoption. Journal of Islamic Marketing, 1(1), 63-69.

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13. Rosmah Mansor, D.P.S. (2010). Islamic fashion fast becoming lucrative business. The Opening of Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF), Monaco, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.bernama.com 14. Shuayto, N. (2010). Review subject: Cases in strategic marketing management: Business strategies in Muslim countries John Quelch. Journal of Islamic Marketing, 1(3), 305-308. 15. Temporal, P. (2010). Islamic brands ready for take-off. Oxford Global Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum. Retrieved from http://oxfordislamicmarketing.sbsblogs.co.uk 16. Wikipedia, (2010). Ijma. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ijma

Figure 1 Influencing legal and societal factors

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business

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Figure 2 Affecting individual variables and constructs

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