What’s the Deal with Dolce & Gabbana’s Abaya Collection?

When a fashion house releases a Muslim-targeted collection, I would have expected there to be celebration, that finally, Muslim fashionistas are being recognised by a luxury fashion player. And indeed there was celebration, but not without scrutiny that has been thrown towards Dolce & Gabbana’s latest hijab and abaya collection, named “The Abaya Collection: The Allure of the Middle East”. The collection features an array of hijabs and abayas in neutral hues and floral prints, in fabrics like lace, georgette and satin weave charmeuse fabrics, according to its debut on Style Arabia.

Dolce & Gabbana, Dolce & Gabbana Abaya Collection, Dolce & Gabbana Abaya and Hijab Collection, Dolce & Gabbana Hijab and Abaya Collection, hijab, abaya, luxury, muslim fashion

(Image credit: Style Arabia )

Many have lauded this collection as a smart financial move by the fashion house, looking at the worth of the Muslim fashion market. Others, however, see this as exploitation – a move that has ignored years of thriving Muslim fashion and released as a money-making opportunity, neglecting culture, diversity and inclusion that is at the heart of the Muslim community.

What do I have to make of all of this? Here’s what I think.

Dolce & Gabbana, Dolce & Gabbana Abaya Collection, Dolce & Gabbana Abaya and Hijab Collection, Dolce & Gabbana Hijab and Abaya Collection, hijab, abaya, luxury, muslim fashion

(Image credit: Style Arabia )

Collection-wise, it is quite pretty, though stylistically it isn’t anything groundbreaking or new in Muslim fashion. As the collection was made for the Middle Eastern market, I don’t think I have the experience or expertise to comment on taste. You can take a look at this article  for better insight.

I applaud Dolce & Gabbana’s first step in reaching out to the Muslim fashion audience – this crowd is often overlooked by the mainstream fashion industry. That being said, I believe that recognition for Muslim fashion should grow from representation and collaborations combined with appreciation for the diversity of the Muslim community. Some have criticised the house for stamping a “Muslim” label on ideas that we have seen before. Instead of working separately, creative minds from different houses, boutiques and agencies need to work together to understand what today’s Muslim consumers want and expect from a particular brand. These houses could develop fashion campaigns that engage Muslim creatives – Muslim models, stylists, photographers, bloggers, etc. The Muslim fashion market isn’t a passive bunch – we would love to be involved, so please, let us be involved! As of now I feel like Western brands have just taken their first few steps towards developing Muslim-friendly clothes. Gradually I hope that things will be able to move from just selling to truly engaging, allowing Muslim fashion to contribute to the mainstream fashion conversation.

Over the next couple of years I hope to see more fruitful collections popping up that aren’t just eye-catching but promote a positive image of the brand itself. Despite the many Ramadhan collections that brands have launched over the years (e.g. ZARA, Mango, DKNY), the two brands that have managed to set themselves apart from others, in my opinion, are Uniqlo and H&M. Uniqlo has collaborated, and is still collaborating, with designer Hana Tajima to release Muslim-friendly collections under the brand, while H&M featured Mariah Idrissi in a campaign last year, earning a thumbs up from the Muslim fashion community. Strangely, I noticed that previous Muslim-targeted collections have not come under as much criticism as Dolce & Gabbana’s. I believe that this is probably because the house delved into both faith and culture at the same time when they are separate, though related.

Closing off, I personally believe that to capture the attention of the Muslim fashion community, you need to do more than just sell clothes, you need to market them. Engagement with the community is key and with this, so much potential for representation and inclusion can be unlocked.

Have you read about the collection? What do you think? 

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  • Reply Christina

    Great article! It’s nice to hear your perspective and bringing this issue that retailers and fashion houses need more collaboration to understand what the Muslim market wants. I do think this a good step for fashion to be all inclusivelse of everyone.

    January 15, 2016 at 11:23 pm
    • Reply liyamh

      Thank you for your comment! There are so many talented people in Muslim fashion, retailers and fashion houses have so many options for collaboration. I do hope to see more of this, how exciting the campaigns will be!

      January 16, 2016 at 1:22 pm
  • Reply Maddie

    I hadn’t heard about this, and found your post so super interesting and insightful. I think the collection is beautiful, after having delved further into detail about it. As always, love your style and blog. Love, Maddie. From

    January 24, 2016 at 5:06 am
    • Reply liyamh

      Thank you, Maddie, for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

      January 25, 2016 at 1:37 am

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