Ad Critique

Creating stand-out Muslim fashion imagery

22, March, 2013


This is a campaign run in Pakistan for Junaid Jamshed’s J. line of lawn prints

The context:

One of the underlying principles around Muslim fashion and modest dress is to move away from the objectification of women in the beauty industry. This does not mean that Muslims do not believe in beauty or fashion, far from it, but simply that they are concerned that fashion focuses too much on models and not enough on the clothing. In addition, there is a strong leaning away from the human image in traditional Islamic art and imagery, which of course poses a challenge to brands that want to reach out to Muslim consumers.

In Pakistan, a highly competitive market for fashion, lawn clothing is ideal for the summer due to the lightweight cool nature of the fabric, and its distinctive traditional prints appeal

across all social strata. In recent years, lawn season is announced and designers will showcase their new collections. The clothing combines summer practicality, with tradition, modesty and elegance. However, there is a rising sense in Pakistani society that the increasing use of Bollywood stars, and designer goods in advertising is moving away from the core values of lawn as accessible to all, and about the fabric itself rather than high end fashion glamour.

The concept:

This advertising campaign does not feature any models at all, thereby underlining the ongoing positioning of the brand to be ‘Islamic’ and break with existing fashion norms. In addition, it returns the focus on the campaign back to the fabric, rather than focusing on the model. The adverts were displayed across the city in key locations during ‘lawn season’, the period when designers showcase their new collections.

Our thoughts:

Muslim fashion is a growing trend in the Muslim world and Muslim diaspora. Many brands are experimenting with innovative and fresh ways to use imagery to build their brands whilst retaining an Islamic feel.

This campaign has caught our attention because it has tried a radical approach and is consistent with their own wider strategy of not using models. Last year the campaign featured umbrellas in order to showcase the lawn fabrics. “People say the fashion industry is like this and like that but it’s important to know that if you really want to, you can move fashion forward the right way as well.” says the company’s customer manager.

In a cluttered market, it uses its Islamic spirit to create differentiation from the crowd. Their target is to win consumer affection in a market where they feel that the tradition of lawn is being lost in favour of a focus on celebrities, and to appeal to target consumers who feel that Islamic values are being forgotten. The focus on the fabric is positioned as a counter to fashion’s focus on women as display hangers. It also cements the brand’s position as upholding the orthodox Muslim position of no human imagery.

According to the customer manager, the aim of the business strategy is to “keep the spirit of Islam alive — we want to follow its basic teachings to formulate our business dealings,” adding that “I personally feel no Muslim would disagree with that; we aren’t required to show a semi-dressed woman in our ads.”