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Turkey's Rising Middle Class Drives Demand for Islamic Fashion

A new, wealthy and religiously conservative middle class has emerged with an expensive taste for style and fashion.

Two things one might notice shortly after landing in Istanbul are traffic congestion and countless billboards on the side of the road. Advertisement displays by companies from various industries is not unusual. Yet, when it comes to apparel, what is peculiar to Istanbul is the broad palette of fashion styles, and hence the market. Thus, a gigantic billboard with a model wearing a headscarf may be placed right next to a billboard promoting bikinis. Turkish society is very diverse, so accommodating different needs in all aspects — fashion included — is a sine qua non for advancing Turkish democracy.

Reviewing reports on Turkish fashion over the last few years reveals a changing pattern of developments in the industry. In 2010, titles such as "Turkey Merges Fashion Industry Into Business" were common; a year later, it was "Spotlight On ... Turkey's Apparel Industry"; then, "On the Way to a Fashion Industry"; and finally in 2013, "Fashion Industry in Turkey Gains International Acclaim." Yet, the most interesting addition to the Turkish fashion industry portrait is a news headline such as "Turkish Fashion Designers Make Muslim Style Chic." This signals a clear evolution, both in Turkish society and its fashion.

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