Surviving the 2017 Local Fashion Industry

As 2017 enters its second month, those in business cannot help but lament about how the year would be a challenging one for business survival. The clothing industry is said to be among the sectors affected. Competition is stiff, with new brands flooding the market following ease of access to raw materials from China and Vietnam. To survive, many major players have diverged into other industries such as food and cosmetics. Some though, have decided to look deeper within the clothing industry to see where the money was really at, and found it to be in modest fashion. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2015-2016, Muslim consumers spend about USD230 billion a year on clothes and the figure is expected to increase to USD327 billion by 2019. Therefore it is little wonder that designer brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, H&M, Uniqlo, DKNY, Oscar de la Renta, Tommy Hilfiger and Mango are jumping onto the bandwagon to cater to modest fashion enthusiasts and giving existing brands a run for their money.


In Malaysia, modest clothing and fashion has become a rather lucrative industry, with many new players coming onboard every year. However, the founder of GM Ideology business training centre, Major (Rtd) Mohd Ameir Rydhuan believed that 90 percent of local modest clothing brand owners started their business on the wrong foot and ended up having to close shop. Local clothing brands have blossomed over the past five years and today there are so many boutiques and mega sales events dedicated to these brands. Unfortunately, the knowledge these brand owners have is not in line with the speed at which the industry is developing, said Ameir. To date, he has conducted 200 training sessions for 50 local brands throughout 2016 and during that time he learnt the mistakes committed by many of the brand owners. He, however, did not buy into the hype of 2017 being a challenging year for the local modest fashion industry. Even if that was the case, he believed that local clothing labels could pull through if they treaded carefully. The real challenge is when these brands fail to offer something different or unique to the market. Because of this, they have to compete amongst themselves for the same customers it is a big industry, he pointed out. Ameir said this after the Fashion Startup: Persiapan Projek Raya 2017 programme organised by Magma Solutions Sdn Bhd (Magma) in Putrajaya held on Jan 14 and 15.


According to Ameir, the two biggest mistakes that local fashion entrepreneurs tended to make were poor customer service and spending too much time seeking out new customers. Each customer that has bought our brand has a high potential of repeating the purchase. Failure to take care of them will result in a missed sale which will then be grabbed by others. At the same time, sellers are so occupied with obtaining new customers that they forget about existing ones. They don't realise that the cost of getting a new customer is the same as taking care of the ones they already have, said Ameir who had formerly served the Royal Malaysian Air Force. He added that entrepreneurs today loved to fuss over the details but tended to forget the basics. This was made evident during the courses he conducted as business owners came to the stunning realisation that they had ignored the most important things, despite their years in the business.


With Hari Raya Aidilfitri just four months away, fashion entrepreneurs need to already have a plan to maximise on sales during the festive season. Raya is the most important day of the year for many of our customers. So the question would be: will customers choose our brand to wear on their important day? Last year we saw many of our friends businesses fold and subjected to controversy - all because they failed to plan. Magma hopes this will not happen again to any of our participants, said Azrul Izzam Kamarul Zaman who is Magma Chief of Experience (COE). Meanwhile, its Chief Executive Officer Puteri Maizura Razali said a company's sales performance during the Hari Raya festive season was an indicator of the business health. During this time, demand is three times more than usual, so it is a good time to gauge your product s relevance in the market, she explained.


Siti Alia Izaaty Mohd Ramlel, the owner of Bonafide Scarf is one of those unfortunate entrepreneurs that suffered massive losses due to lack of research and planning. In 2016 she made the mistake of making a six-digit investment in a product that was not validated for marketability. The product did not take off and ended up becoming dead inventory. She hoped that with the knowledge gained from the workshop, the situation will not recur. For the founder of the Benang Hijau boutique, Fadzilah Mamat, 36, having 12 boutiques in seven states meant she needed to constantly update her business knowledge. She believed that the Fashion Startup workshop has helped answer many of the pressing questions at the back of her mind all these while. Sales had dropped at the end of 2016 so I think it is time to change strategies. I have always wondered what a reasonable amount to spend on marketing is and what is considered a healthy return of investment. I got my answers here, she said. Two other fashion entrepreneurs, Rubina Ameen Mughal, 37, who is the owner of Imaan Boutique, and Fazrena Abdul Aziz, the founder of TudungPeople, both agreed that the knowledge shared by Ameir was practical and made them more fastidious when making decision. Meanwhile, Mohd Muaz Mohamed Nyan, whose business Audrabella Wardrobe started in 2014, said he did not mind coming all the way to Kuala Lumpur for the workshop as there was none like it in his site in Johor Bahru.


  1. I totally agree on the customer service part. I wouldn't buy anything from a shop that treat their customers macam nak tak nak.

    btw, your blog design is always pretty xD


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