Last week, Modanisa.com, an Islamic clothing ecommerce website based in Turkey, announced the conclusion of a $5.5 million investment from STC Ventures (the Saudi telecom’s VC fund) and Aslanoba Capital (the firm in charge of Turkish angel investor Hasan Aslanoba’s early stage investments). This is the first investment deal to be inked since the launch of the new Borsa Istanbul Private Market program last November, a joint initiative of the Istanbul stock exchange and Endeavor Turkey with the aim of bringing together entrepreneurs and investors, in which Modanisa is a participant.
The investment was strategic for STC Ventures for two reasons, according to fund manager Aiman Al-Atiqi as stated in a press release. First, STC is interested in climbing on board the “Islamic and conservative fashion” bandwagon, “a large and untapped market,” said Al-Atiqi. Second, the Modanisa investment represents a foray by the Saudis into the Turkish market, “the largest and fastest growing market in the region.” He continued: “This investment is considered to be the first of many investments to follow inshallah.”
This investment, relatively large for a Turkish ecommerce site, as well as the site’s numbers, speaks to the potential for the Islamic women’s fashion industry, estimated to be worth over $300 billion by 2018. “[Modanisa] has over 35% market share in online conservative clothing, and have been the market leader in product range, number of visitors [4.5 million monthly], and product selling capacity since the day we were established…. We export to 57 countries, mainly to European countries with major Muslim populations but also to countries like the US and Australia,” says Modanisa chairman Kerim Türe in a statement.
Citrastyle, an Islamic fashion ecommerce site based in Dubai, is another example of the strength of the emerging sector (as is the recent launch of the Islamic Fashion Design Council in Dubai). Since its launch in May, the startup has shipped “thousands” of orders to dozens of countries from its base in Dubai, and 25% of its current customers have previously bought something from CitraStyle, cofounder Muhammad Chbib tells Wamda in an email. Further, the founders recently closed a seven-digit early stage investment deal from investors in Saudi Arabia, Europe, and Singapore.