Mohd Zaimmudin Mohd Zain
University of Malaysia
Patsy Perry & Liz Barnes
University of Manchester, UK
Navigating the fashion-faith landscape in Malaysia: The influence of fashion bloggers on Generation Y Malay females' fashion consumption
Originating as a hobby to journalise one’s daily routine, fashion blogging has evolved to become an important fashion reference source and a medium for fashion engagement. Fashion bloggers have become key influencers and opinion leaders, with the ability to persuade followers to buy or adopt their fashion style.
This study explores the role of the fashion blogger in a non-Western cultural context where religious norms restrict females’ ability to engage fully with fashion trends. Modest wear is worn by females who embrace Islam as their faith and must cover the entire body, except for face and palms. Malay female fashion bloggers have a different dress code to Western fashion bloggers, due to religious norms and the cultural context. However, in Malaysia there are more options for modest wear than other Islamic nations (e.g. colour, shape, form, and fabric), so bloggers engage with global fashion trends by taking a unique ‘mix and match’ approach that combines Islamic and Western apparel or styles.
Although younger Malay generations show interest in Western fashion styles, they must adhere to Muslim values of appropriate dress. Caught between fashion trends, religious values and cultural context, they must maintain the limits on their selection of clothing imposed by their faith in order to be accepted by society. Therefore, they need trustworthy sources for style ideas that minimise the social risk of purchasing something inappropriate.
This study takes a qualitative approach to understand how Malay female Generation Y fashion consumers are influenced by fashion bloggers to balance fashion trends, religious values and cultural context when shopping for fashion. Netnographic data was gathered from the comment threads of 2 Malay female fashion bloggers over a 3 month period alongside interview data from 16 Malay female Generation Y fashion consumers.