What Do The Fashion Industry’s Muslim Women Think of Dolce & Gabbana’s Abaya Collection

This week Dolce & Gabbana announced the launch of their first collection of abayas and hijabs.

The campaign images were revealed exclusively on Style.Com Arabia on January 3rd with the fashion house’s own Instagram sharing an image on January 6th with the caption “The new Dolce & Gabbana Abaya collection is a reverie amidst the desert dunes and skies of the Middle East: an enchanting visual story about the grace and beauty of the marvelous women of Arabia.”

The Italian designers have added their own distinct style to the traditional garment with trails of lace trims and bursts of bright daisy and lemon prints, nodding to their Sicilian themed SS16 ready-to-wear collection.

Dolce & Gabbana’s Abaya Collection

It was recently revealed by Bain management consultancy that sales of personal luxury goods in the Middle East rose to $8.7billion in 2015, so it’s no wonder that Western fashion brands are doing all they can to get a piece of the pie.

Beyond the financial opportunities for brands, this marks a significant creative and cultural shift in the industry. Dolce & Gabbana’s new collection has been widely praised by the Middle Eastern community for acknowledging their lifestyle and fashion sense, though the designs themselves have received mixed responses. CAF spoke to Muslim women working in the industry to gather their thoughts on the launch and what it means for the industry.

Marriam Mossalli, Fashion Editor and Saudi Luxury Expert at Niche Arabia, Saudi Arabia

“From an international perspective, it’s great to see retailers getting more interested in the Middle Eastern, or more specifically — Muslim, market, which according to reports, is estimated to increase to $484 billion by 2019. But from a local perspective, the collection was such a disappointment! Aesthetically the collection looks outdated, not high fashion, and, unfortunately, too similar to the local abayas offered for around 50 bucks in the local ‘souks’. This is where some market research would have really helped the duo create something exciting and really sophisticated, much like their usual collections. Lace and flowers? We’ve been using those fabrics and motifs on our abayas since the 80's… which perhaps explains more the appeal of Dolce & Gabbana in this market!”

Farzana Baduel, Managing Director at Curzon PR, United Kingdom

“Dolce & Gabbana’s new Abaya collection is a much needed positive development for integrating Muslims in the mainstream. High fashion is an influential cultural platform that resonates through the rest of society and sends a message of inclusion and tolerance. As a British Muslim I’m delighted to see this brave move, especially in light of Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding politics, society and race.”

Dolce & Gabbana’s Abaya Collection

Faye Bee, blogger at SheHijabi, Australia

“My first reaction to Dolce & Gabbana’s Abaya collection was excitement. Muslim women spend big when it comes to fashion and they’ve noticed. But bear in mind that high-end fashion is booming in the Middle East, and this collection is catered to the already existing wealthy clientele. Whilst it’s positive to see Dolce&Gabbana recognising Muslim women, especially in this current climate where Islamophobia is rife, headlines are being made because it’s something so rare. How often do labels design clothing for the Muslim woman? Hardly. All it takes is for one (huge) fashion label to ‘be the first’ and others will follow. It would be great if clothing lines with affordable price tags jumped on board too.”

Nazmin Alim, Creative Director and Founder at Aab, United Kingdom

“As one of the pioneers of modest fashion we are delighted to see an iconic brand such as Dolce & Gabbana enter this space and this can only mean good news for the sector.

We have been saying for a long time that this sector is very exciting and the recognition and awareness that a brand such as Dolce & Gabbana can bring will only benefit independent fashion labels such as Aab.”

Words: Olivia Pinnock

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