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IRAN: Fashion firm bets on tight jeans in Tehran

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Women in pious Islamic countries such as Iran crave fashionably tight jeans and trendy low-cut dresses just as much as their counterparts in the West. At least that is the bet being made by some international fashion brands eager to penetrate markets with conservative dress codes.

Mango, a Spanish multinational selling ready-to-wear couture for women, is one of the companies betting that women everywhere want to look fashionable.

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The chain, which is endorsed by Spanish megastar Penelope Cruz, recently declared that it would open a store in the heart of Tehran before the end of the year, according to the brand’s website.

It won’t be the first. Benetton, the Italian retailer, is already in Tehran.

Mango, which boasts more than 1,100 shops in 90 countries, is also planning to open two other shops in Iran, another in Tehran and one on the island of Kish. It will then continue its expansion in Iran over the next five years with 10 openings in the cities of Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz.

Another risky market that the retailer is looking to explore early next year is Iraq, specifically the city of Erbil in the relatively safe Kurdish northern area. The executive in charge of the group’s expansion, Isak Halfon, has reportedly said that Iraqi women “are starving for something like” Mango stores.

But the Barcelona-based brand is also tuned in to the fashion traditions of Middle Eastern women. Part of the line sold by Mango in Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar are specially designed by Lebanese fashion designer Zuhair Murad for this region’s more conservative women.

According to the fashion multinational, sales in the Arab region are ‘booming.’ Mango has 84 stores in the Middle East and plans to open 22 stores in the region this year.

Raed Rafei in Beirut.


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