It was officially announced on Sunday that Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana would debut its first line of abayas (loose robe-like apparel) and hijabs (headscarves). Muslim women who have a fascination for luxury goods consider the forthcoming collection an exciting development. For a long time, they felt as if their fashion needs were being ignored by designers.
However, while Dolce & Gabbana’s abayas and hijabs have already drummed up plenty of excitement on Twitter, some pointed out that the label’s choice of models should have been diversified.
AND ANOTHER THING: dolce and gabbana's hijab/abaya collection features all white models and i'd like a refund.
— Caora (@caoraesque) January 7, 2016
— Omari Allen (@omariallen_) January 6, 2016
Dolce & Gabbana could have gotten a hint from H&M when it revealed its “Close the Loop” campaign featuring its first hijab-wearing model, Mariah Idrissi. Nonetheless, the half-Pakistani, half-Moroccan model described Dolce & Gabbana’s launch as “definitely a positive thing.” She told the Telegraph that the move could certainly help fashion-loving Muslim women.
“It’s hard being a Muslim and needing to dress conservatively but loving fashion. Nice ‘going out’ clothes are particularly hard. Everything’s either really dressy or really casual.”
Style.com Arabia recently unveiled the photos of Dolce & Gabbana’s inaugural collection. The collection takes pride in its pieces that bear delicate prints and patterns. The website released a complementing makeup guide for those who purchased the exclusive pieces. Dolce & Gabbana’s new line manages to marry the preferences of Middle Eastern shoppers and the label’s Sicily-inspired aesthetic.
Many abaya-wearing women are already consumers of luxury brands, although they commonly wear their prized pieces underneath their modest abayas. To give abayas an exceptional twist, some women embellish them with crystals.
Last summer, Stefano Gabbana revealed the brand’s project to Arab newspaper, The National.
“I’m really fascinated with the Middle East and we’ve just completed a prêt-à-porter collection of abayas and sheylas. Pieces have some lace, embroidery, and some prints — but not too much.”
Dolce & Gabbana’s Muslim collection might just make others follow suit, although labels like DKNY, Oscar de la Renta, and Tommy Hilfiger have already produced one-time collections aimed at their Muslim clientele. Capsule collections from renowned brands are oftentimes released around Ramadan, but figures show that the Muslim market yearns for luxury pieces all-year-round.
Fortune previously cited a 2013 report by Reuters that claimed Muslim women across the globe spent $266 billion on clothing and shoes – an amount that exceeded Japan and Italy’s combined fashion spending. By 2019, Reuters expect that the community’s spending will reach $484 billion.
In the same report, Shelina Janmohamed, vice president of brand consultancy Oglivy Noor, expressed her optimism for the trend. She pointed out that five years ago, it was “almost unheard of” to see Muslim-focused designer pieces.
“Within five years, we’ve seen it go from something talked about to something designers are actually marketing,” she gushed. “The growth curve has been escalating faster and faster.”
For experts, brands are starting to see the amount Muslim shoppers spend on fashion, and instead of merely releasing annual Ramadan collections, why not come up with something that stays?
Dolce & Gabbana has not yet announced the price points of its new pieces, or the regions where they will be available.
[Image via Dolce & Gabbana]