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Ethnic Dress in Modern Fashion Design

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Due on: 06/18/2016
Posted On: 06/18/2016 12:38 AM

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I'm attaching a research that need to be fixing, compleating, and editing

please use the references that I didn't use yet and feel free to add more if require

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.0pt 56.0pt 84.0pt 112.0pt 140.0pt 168.0pt 196.0pt 224.0pt 252.0pt 280.0pt 308.0pt 336.0pt; mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none">Luxury Abaya Penetrates the Wall of Time in a Globalized world

- You may not went to Japan or meet someone from japan, but you must been eating Japanese. Food is one way to learn about different culture; moreover, fashion is another way of learning about different culture

- Over the years we have seen different ethnic inspiration in fashion. Chinese, Japanese, Indian, African..etc. designs became global trend that can be seen in fashion shows, shops, even streets. But what about the Arabian Gulf fashion, when will we see the Abaya as fashion worn all over the world.

- We do see some meddle eastern inspiration used by western and European designers in evening dresses and in beach wear.

- In this research I’m discussing the Abaya as an Arabian Gulf luxury fashion. The costumes, outfits and fashion of Arabian Gulf have changed through the years because of the development of the civilization. What used to be worn in the past has been altered into a different style that is beginning to adapt to western in general. One of the fashion items that have not changed is the Abaya,women still wear the Abaya.

-The Abaya in the Arabic Gulf countries has it’s own fashion line. So many designers, like Mashail Albuqami, and brands, like My Fair Lady, are well known for their Abaya designs. The Abaya designing are not only limited on the Arab. There is a French Abaya designer Judith Duriez, she has her own line in Dubai that called Arabesque. She decided to be an Abaya designer after she got fascinatedand fall in love with this kind of fashion. Also, big well known brand in fashion like Dolce & Cabbana

-The Arabian Gulf like any other place adapted the western style, but still maintain its heritage.

-Historical background

In order to understand the fashion of the Abaya we need to examine the history of the Abaya.

What do you know about the Abaya?

The Abaya formed to be this black robe worn by Arab women to cover regular clothes in many areas of the Middle East, especially in the Arab Gulf states. The Abaya considered the uniforms for women in some Arab countries. It is a garment that can be described as a long and mostly black, with long-sleeved. The Abaya covers the entire body except the face, hand and feet. It can be wore with a veil and Niqab, is a full cover of the face except the eyes area.

People may differ on the history of Abaya, and where it came from. Some believe that the Abaya has existed since 4000 in the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, others believe that the origin of Abaya back to the time of the introduction of Islam.

In those times, women were wearing robes that appear many areas of the body such as the neck. And even they wore a headscarf to leave the front open (due to the intense heat in the desert areas). After the introduction of Islam, ladies wear headscarves committed to cover all of the head, and cover the censorship and the rest of the body parts to protect them and to show respect and reverence. Some believe that the idea of the head and the body cover associated with a more social level as being linked to religion only. In pre-Islamic time in the Arabian Peninsula region, they are wealthy ladies were only wearing headscarves and cover, as a distinctive sign of wealth and lack of need for action. They are not allowed to wear the cap for the poor, and the Bedouin were busy to work in very hot weather did not bear to wear more layers of clothing. (Alharbi, 2013)

-The evolution of Abaya through times

I asked my Mother about the evolution of the Abaya from her grand mother’s time till today. She lived in Al-Hejaz rejoin that is located at the west side of the Arabian Peninsula along withe the Red Sea. Al-Hejaz differs from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula. It is unique in its multi-cultural ethnic foundation primarily due to global immigration to Makah and Medina, the two scared cities for Muslims where Holy Mosques are located. It has received a special attention by the Islamic world. Which led to the increasing movement of commerce and the diversity of cultures. Costume of Al-Hejaz has a lot of influence by tribal and immigrant fashion. One of the important cities in Al-Hejaz region is Jeddah, where my mom lived, it is the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia and it has a commercial port. Since costumes influenced by the cultural blend and produced a unique costume line that preserved the tribal foundation and emphasized the immigrant background, studying the history of the costumes in this region identified the differences between Al-Hejaz Abaya.

According to my Mother in the 60s her grandmother’s days the Abaya looked like a long fitted coat, on top of it there’s a wide short piece from top to the end of the hips it called (quona’a) it was all black. In the 70s women stared to wear one piece Abaya. Her Mother (my grand mother) wears a black wide Abaya and the fabric start to change to silk and Jersih. When my mother was a teenager a trend came up for the Abaya. Yang girls start to wear a shorter Abaya. However, the clothes under were long enough to cover the body. In the 80s the coat came back, but this time it was wider than what it was in the 60s, it called (Balto). Some women prefer the Abaya and some prefer the Balto. The differences between the Abaya and the Balto were that the Abaya is open in front unlike the Balto that is closed with buttons or zippers.

Now days, the Abaya evolved significantly and become an important custom of the Medal East. It owned a whole fashion with variety of designs and colors.

-Abaya as fashion

Today, ladies following the Islamic law adhere to wear the head and body cover, or Abaya. The Abaya come in different shapes and designs, patterns and multiple colors vary depending on the tastes of women in certain areas following the tradition of social and religious. Black Abayas are among the most famous in the Middle East, especially in the Arabian Gulf. As for the Muslim country's Far East, they prefer to wear other colored and embroidered gowns in several countries such as Jordan and some Western countries and now in some Middle East countries as well. Although black is the favorite color to wear. Muslim woman can wear any color they want as long as it does not draw attention. They can wear embroidered colored, and decorated Abaya on special occasions and important meetings, or even at any time.

I asked Arabian females who wear the Hijab about their opinion in the fashion Abaya. Sara Kadi EDD in Organizational leadership said that fashion is the world of international you find your style. In any culture and in different customs some time dress bring life and reflect your characters even if it come from a culture do not belong to you. For her she pick cloths to show the world who she is, what she like, and where she would like to travel. If anyone asked her, if should the Abaya be an international trend? Her answer will be absolutely yes. For many reasons. First, The Abaya is a modern fashionable dress that reflects culture, history and traditions. Then and the most important it is very flexible piece to designed and get creative with. We can make it completely different pieces with adding some patched, laces and colors. Women could wear it open on jeans, on swimsuits and short dress. Also it could be wear as a formal dress on heals in big formals parties. It’s a fun and easy piece to play with. It is very important to put the light on that many of the present fashion clothes have rooter from the Abaya like the beaches kimono, caftans, and so many people have been wearing the Abaya as a modern piece of fashion without giving the credit to this amazing piece of cloth.

Aya Muways an undergraduate Radiation therapist thinks that the Abaya can be worn as fashion style and it is not necessary be worn as religious practices. Many people in the Middle East wear Abaya not only for religious practice but also as cultural custom. She thinks that Abaya has many features that make us think it would be a great fashion style. First, it is so comfortable; the wide cut of it let anyone wear it in many ways, whether closed or open, plane or designed. Second, it is so flexible in terms of fashion you can choose from variety of colors and variety of small details that can change the whole look. For example, sometimes it can be worn as long plane colored with kimonos’ cut over a top and short jeans for hurry morning’s days with comfy simple look, and fashionable look at the same time. Also, for people who don’t like to wear tight and short dresses in night occasion events, Abaya is the best choice for them. It can be made with luxurious material and simple decorated accessories, which give it a unique look and fashionable at the same time.

Not every Muslims feel the same about the fashion Abaya Hadeel has a Masters’ in Health care management think different about the Abaya. She thinks that Abaya originally came from religious background. Most Muslims nowadays wear it. She said Muslims women wear Abaya to cover themselves from unrelated men. It is a Muslims’ belief that women should keep their beauty and ornament from strangers (not one of their first degree relative) men. She thinks it is inappropriately to let women wear the Abaya for any other reasons than religious. Women suppose to wear it with modest reasoning and intention not other than that. She thinks it is against religion and religion practices when designer use Abaya as a fashion styles.

One day I heard two teenagers’ gills discussing whither it’s important to wear a fashionable Abaya or a regular Abaya. One of them was insisted that wearing fashionable Abaya is the most important. Because it a way of her to express her style. Yes, it’s for covering, but it doesn’t mean she can’t be stylish and creative wearing it. The other girl didn’t agree with her. She doesn’t care about the Abaya she is wearing, she only care about what she wear under it. The Abaya in her opinion is just to cover up when she go out, and what she wear under is the most important to her.

For me I agree with Sara and Aya’s opinion.

(use the D&G article for whom not agree with non Muslim designers designing Abaya)

((“The Problem with Dolce & Gabbana’s Abaya Collection." Sporazine. (9 Jan. 2016). Web.))

I agree for anyone to design Abaya. However, For Dolce & Gabbana a big name in fashion world their design should be more creative that adding just lace and print with the logo Dolce & Gabbana.

-Ethnic Dress in Modern Fashion Design

Years a go, any designs that is not connected to the western fashion system labeled as (ethnic dress) or (folk costume). Which mean that it didn’t reached the global spectators, and the luxury Abaya is one of them it is also privileged. The Arabian Gulf is a major producing countries for the Abaya they also hosted a Abaya fashion trade shows. (Akou 404)

— Need to be analyzed ((Two years later, Joanne Eicher and Barbara Sumherg elaborated on this idea in a chapter for the anthology Dress and Ethnicity(1995). Defining "ethnic dress" as items of dress such as clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics that are "worn by members of one group to distinguish themselves from another thy focusing on differentiation" (p. .300), they created a new term, "world fashion," to describe items like blue jeans, business suits, T-shirts, and athletic shoes that are worn by "individuals to convey to others that they are not members of an esoteric group" (p. 304). By this definition, ethnic dress separates while world fashion erases differences. A scholar from Finland, Ritva Koskennurmi-Sivonen, onct- explained to me that she liked this term because although that country is geographically on the edge of Europe, people do see themselves as pan of the West and wear "world fashions" as Eicher and Sumberg described.' Australia is another good example—far from Europe and North America, but culturally very Western. Furthermore, since this kind of dress is not worn just in Europe and North America but all over the world, Eicher and Sumberg argued that using the term "world fashion" would be more neutral. In an article for Fashion Theory,Lise Skov agreed, observing that "it is neither accurate nor desirable to designate as 'Western' items that are intimate parts of the everyday lives of millions of people outside the West" (2004:167).)) (Akou 406)

-A new globalized fashion

The Abaya in the Arabian Gulf is a source of pride. Despite the invasion of fashion culture of all worlds in which they forgot their heritage and traditions living their pride with their culture customs. The Abaya invaded the world and became important globally. Especially in the Arabian Gulf it has become the best alternative, the most beautiful, and the most conservative. Evidence indicates that the Abaya is also the religious commitment in some countries.

The Abaya has been always described as an Islamic custom. However, with the new globalization it will be come one of the fashionable designs that everyone will want to have. The Abaya witnessed a surprising development since the fifties of the last century until the present day. Many Arabian women considered the Abaya, as a national identity that represent women decency and pride that should not be compromise with it. However, a closer look at the changes that have occurred in the Abaya bound to monitor extraneous details that took place due to friction with other cultures on one hand, and change the rhythm of life on the other.

-Smart Abaya

Perhaps every woman has not dreamed to have suitable clothing that will be suitable for all kind of weather. It's necessary to have multiple appropriate clothing for different kind of weather in our closet. Now days, thanks to the advanced technology of the Japanese textile factories that have been producing smart fabrics that helps our bodies to breathe comfortably. The technology owns special techniques that are developed to be friendly to our bodies and adapting to the climate. Also, it compatible with the standards that protect the environment at the same time. (Bukari 2011)

"Salem Al Ammari" the Executive Director and the Founder of the Amari fabrics, it is the main center of smart fabrics in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. Al Ammari was interviewed with a well known magazin in the Arabian Gulf called Ana Zahra "I am a flower." In this artical he was discussing the idea of smart fabrics after he studied the nature of the clothing worn by Gulf women and the affect by desert climate that is usually suny and warm. from here his mind start to search for technological textile that fit the nature life of the Arabian Gulf. Furthermore, the idea was proposed first to a textile factory in Japan and they produced the smart fabric successfully. After the resounding success they began to produce more in Indian and Indonesian factories because of the high demand. (Bukari 2011)

Over the past years the smart fabrics sales went high, which registered a significant increase in the Saudi Arabian market by 60 percent. The availability of smart fabric in Saudi Arabia is estimated by only 20 percent of the total availability of fabrics in the market. Customers are still unaware of the environmental benefits of the smart fabrics and how fast it adapts to the atmosphere. The need to smart fabrics go to many highlights factors like the atmosphere in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf in general of humidity and high temperatures. The tissues in these smart fabrics can respond efficiently to any important changes accuracy both in temperature or light intensity or other changes that can occur in the surrounding. When the fabric is worn by a person the fibers on the fabric contribute and conversion to a suitable fabric of the situation existing automatically and lies its own technical changes. (Bukari 2011)

The way that this fabric made is they are woven from natural plant fiber that can be self-controlled without any external stimulation. In that sense, the fibers can breathes and has a quick ability to sense the climate, so in cold weather it response and give warmth to the and in warmth it will cool the body. On the basis of this concept smart fabrics will be able to provide us with the necessary comfort and care during the usual performance of activities of our daily life. (Bukari 2011)

Now a day technology become part of every and any thing and using the technology will defiantly make the Abaya more modern and compete in local and international fashion market.

As an Arabian Muslim female who is prude of who I’m and where I’m from. I want to spread my beautiful culture and make anyone aware of it and appreciate it. The whole world adapts the western style. It time to change, every culture around the world has their own beauty that needs to be shared and appreciate. Without culture there is no identity, no life, and no future to fashion creativity.


Alharbi, S. (2013-2012). The Abaya. Archaeological Studies, 1-78.

Al-Qasimi, Noor. "Immodest Modesty: Accommodating Dissent and the 'Abaya-as- Fashion in the Arab Gulf States." Journal of Middle East Women's Studies. 6.1 (2010): 46-74. Web.9

Akou, H. M. (2007). Building a New 'World Fashion': Islamic Dress in the Twenty-first Century. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 11(4), 403-421.

Bukari, F. (2011, February 25). Breathe Abaya? Discover the secret with smart fabrics. Ana Zahra.

Elsevier B.V.(2016). Fashion in Saudi Arabia: The couture-buyer beneath the abaya.

?????????, ?. (12, March 12). The Middle East: Favorable Textile Exports to Middle East. Retrieved from

Kopnina, H. (2007). The World According to Vogue: The Role of Culture(s) in International Fashion Magazines. Dialectical Anthropology, 31(4), 363-381.

Nikkei. (2016, March 28). Japanese fabric makers find eager market in Middle East. Retrieved April, from

Marjorie, K. (2010). Clothes, Culture, and Context: Female Dress in Kuwait. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture.

Mossière, G. (2011). Modesty and style in Islamic attire: Refashioning Muslim garments in a Western context. Contemporary Islam, 6(2), 115-134.

Shimek, E. D. (2012). The Abaya: Fashion, Religion, and Identity in a Globalized World. Lawrence University honors projects.

Hansen, K. T.. (2004). The World in Dress: Anthropological Perspectives on Clothing, Fashion, and Culture. Annual Review of Anthropology, 33, 369–392. Retrieved from

“The Problem with Dolce & Gabbana’s Abaya Collection." Sporazine. (9 Jan. 2016). Web.

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