Wednesday, 15 January, 2020

Fashionistas Reign On Iranian Social Media

By: Leigh Cuen

As Iran and six nations including the United States are seeking to reach a nuclear deal, many of Tehran’s social media users are focused on fashion.

Media and technology company Vocativ analyzed social media trends in Tehran this week using its unique geo-data technology and found that trending keywords include fashion, style and design, especially on Instagram. The results highlighted Iranian women entrepreneurs who have built thriving businesses in the capital city, home to a booming fashion industry despite sanctions.

In February, the city hosted the country’s first fashion week, featuring six upcoming designers including Neda Sadeghi, who told Al-Monitor that Iranian women are increasingly becoming business owners and investors in the fashion industry. “The sanctions don’t effect us. We sew our own clothes,” said Nedin Saffaii, a tailor who owns her own boutique in Tehran and uses Instagram for online orders. “I don’t think the sanctions effect the local demand for clothes in any way.”

In fact, it appears that some women even profit from sanctions.

Shabnam Khosravi, an owner of an online store that sells imported luxury clothing and accessories, said sanctions make it hard for international brands to establish official presence in Iran and sell their newest fashions. Banking sanctions also make it challenging for foreign companies to pull their profits out of the country.

That’s where businesses like Khosravi’s come in: By importing luxury clothing herself, Khrosravi offers women opportunities to buy sought-after—but otherwise inaccessible—merchandise. “Actually, I think there are more opportunities here than (in) other countries, because the sanctions make many opportunities,” she told Vocativ.

Khosravi, who is also a bio-medical engineer, uses tech-savvy tools to market her products. When she started her business she found she could use social media to sell unique fashion pieces without having any investment capital. Following her public Facebook page - which served as a makeshift online store - was blocked, she turned to Instagram to build a local customer base. Now, her online store sells over 200 items a month, using Instagram as her platform for advertising.

Women outside the Iranian capital may prefer to dress more conservatively than those in Tehran, said Saffaii, the tailor in the city. But in the bustling fashion hub, many young people prefer to be well-dressed and show off, she said. That’s good news for designers and business owners in a country where consumers on average have more money to spend than their counterparts in emerging markets like Brazil, China, India and South Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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