The Fashion of Fasting

Ramadan began last week, and with that a significant part of the population worldwide has entered a festive month. Participants of the event are often the minority in their country, and the coexistence of cultures and religions has not been the smoothest in recent times. The political and social shifts of the last decade have deepened the stereotypes and problems, even though it has never been easier to listen to the opinion of the group in question, thanks to the information technology revolution. One of the groups most negatively represented today are Muslims, who are seen as terrorists not only in movies, but also in the streets. To compensate the dark reality, there are a handful of heart-warming stories and initiations that spark discussion between groups, cultures and religions. One of the positive examples is fashion, even if it is not taken too seriously. For many years, designers – not only in the Middle-East – have been trying to cater for the needs of Muslim women, with more or less success. Beyond Muslim designers, the fashion circuit is also getting familiar with the Ramadan collections; but how does the month of Ramadan, which most people associate with fasting, meet the global industry of fashion? Let us take a look at the connection.

The about 30-day long lunar month of Ramadan could be described by these two main goals: fasting and the spiritual striving for a better self. As for the fast (صوم – saum), it is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, and there are quite strict rules about what a Muslim abstains from during the daytime (eating, drinking, married life). Some people are exempt from strict rules: children and the elderly, the ill ones, women having a period or breastfeeding at the time, people who are on a long travel – the latter might take the fasting days later. The other part of the duties of a Muslim during Ramadan is to abstain from immoral acts and thoughts . The meaning behind all this is self-improvement and recognizing one’s blessings in life (for example by giving donations to the poor). It is also important that fasting must be done consciously, by one’s own decision.

During Ramadan, people make up for what is lost during the day after sunset, such as social life or substantial food. There are two meals to be noted: suhur (سحور) comes before dawn, and iftar (إفطار) in the evening (both are connected to prayer times). After a religious tradition, many break the fast with dates. During the day fasting people do not eat or drink anything. There are articles from dietitians and beauty bloggers on what to eat, and now we can read fashion advice as well. After the month of observing the strict fast, there is a holiday: it is called Eid al-fitr, which is often celebrated with gifts from family members– there is a call for lovely gift guides.

The change of lifestyle also means a change in services. In countries where Muslims are the majority, opening times are different, shops open later, malls get crowded well after sunset, but some restaurants in popular tourist-areas choose to serve guests all day long. The mood is festive during the month (or, at least, in the evenings and at Eid for sure), so there is also a demand in clothing for fitting styles: instead of the everyday worn jeans, why not wear a dress in the color of a gemstone with carefully chosen accessories, or a blouse from the finest material with palazzo pants that are meant to be worn in palaces?


Now, it has been said that Ramadan is parallel to Christmas – in terms of money at least. Muslims spend much during a month of self-restraint and celebration, and not only because of donating to thriving charities and paying zakat (for helping the ones in need) in this time of the year. They buy gifts for Eid and clothes for the occasions. And here is the source of interest for designers, to ring in the celebrations with new pieces, through capsule collections (with fewer items, capturing the aim of the designer). They start reaching out to Muslim women because of the market demands. Thus they take religious rules into account, even though fashion is often described by secularism.

We will reach inclusivity after all when Dolce & Gabbana also offers – besides lace mini dresses – abayas and scarves for instance. Even if it is not complete inclusivity because of the expensive price, the rare availability in different countries or the lengths of the sleeves or dresses, it is still a step forward. Many may complain about the brands who sell the Ramadan collections only in the Middle-East: only about 20% of the Muslim population live there. There are some brands who have not adapted to the religious rules successfully, and their designs feature cutouts, slits or too much sheer material. Thus there is much scope for improvement in these collections, which seems even more appropriate in today’s political environment.

Source: Harper’s Bazaar Arabia

The first capsule collection for Muslim women especially for Ramadan was offered by DKNY in 2014, and other brands followed since then: Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, Oscar de la Renta. Dolce & Gabbana first came forward with an abaya-collection in January 2016, with prints unmistakably from the Italian house. Besides the luxury lines, there are also some fast-fashion brands which tried to cater to the Muslim needs, such as Zara or Mango. Of course, none of these win every heart, but they were appreciated throughout. There are also Muslim designers releasing collections for the occasion. In addition, online shopping is also getting easier year-by-year: after the success of Net-A-Porter’s Ramadan edit, the two biggest new online boutiques, The Modist and Ounass, opened just this year. The latter has a selection of homeware as well as gorgeous pieces of clothing.

This year Michael Kors, CH Carolina Herrera and Guess are the main international names for Ramadan-wear, and they are expanding their offer also to children’s clothing. Moreover, Guerlain and Cartier have also revealed special offers for the Eid gift guides.

In a following article I’m going to discuss the abaya collections designed by Dolce&Gabbana, how these pieces are fit for Muslim women and what are the problems concerning these clothes.



The Fashion of Fasting” bejegyzéshez egy hozzászólás

  1. Visszajelzés: A timeline of D&G Abayas – Shekinah Research Institute for Theology

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