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When I grew up in the United Arab Emirates, I had a pair of sensible shoes in my closet: sneakers, Mary Jane shoes. But during Ramadan, which is the fasting month of Islam, my mother will take my sister and me to buy a pair of shiny gold or silver high heels with our traditional Pakistani clothing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. This holiday marks the fasting period. Finish. I will insist that to my 7-year-old self, it must be high heels, and she will choose the pair that will cause the least harm.
More than twenty years later, Eid al-Fitr is my least favorite holiday. However, every Ramadan, I find myself looking for a long tunic that can be passed on Eid al-Fitr, fast food and Eid al-Fitr. During Eid al-Fitr, I am a bit like a 7-year-old kid wearing traditional clothes and shiny Selfies in high heels.
For the observer, Ramadan is the month of prayer, fasting and reflection. The Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, Indonesia, and Malaysia, Southeast Asian countries, and Muslim communities around the world are marked by millions. The customs, culture and cuisine of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are different, and there is no “Muslim” holiday dress code-it can be a robe or embroidered tunic in the Middle East, and a sari in Bangladesh. However, whether you believe in Islam or not, the cross-cultural commonality is that Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr require the best traditional clothing.
When I was a teenager, it meant one piece of Eid al-Fitr, maybe two special clothes. Now, in an era of consumerism and anxiety caused by #ootd, coupled with the transformation of Ramadan into a month of heavy social activities, in many places, women must create brand new wardrobes for Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.
The challenge is not only to find the right note between modesty, tradition, and style, but to do so without wasting your one-year budget on clothes or wearing standard holiday attire. Economic pressure and weather have further exacerbated this situation. This year, Ramadan is in June; when the temperature rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, people will fast for more than 10 hours and get dressed.
For those who are truly focused, please start planning your clothes during Ramadan a few weeks in advance. Therefore, on a working day afternoon in late April-one month before the start of Ramadan-I walked into an exhibition space in Dubai, where a lady in a robe took Hermes and Dior bags and started shopping for Ramadan.
Inside, the upscale Dubai boutique Symphony is hosting Ramadan promotions and charity events. There are booths for dozens of brands-including Antonio Berardi, Zero + Maria Cornejo and Alexis Mabille’s exclusive capsule collection for Ramadan. They offer flowing gowns in silk and pastels, as well as robes decorated with beadwork and subtle accents, all priced between 1,000 and 6,000 dirhams (272 to 1,633 US dollars).
“In Dubai, they really like minimalism, [they] don’t like printing very much,” said Farah Mounzer, the buyer of the store, even though the Ramadan collection here featured embroidery and printing in previous years. “This is what we noticed at Symphony, and we have tried to adapt to this.”
Ayesha al-Falasi was one of the Hermes bag ladies I saw in the elevator. When I approached her a few hours later, she was standing outside the dressing area. Patek Philippe watches gleamed on her wrist, and she wore abaya from Dubai brand DAS Collection. (“You are a stranger!” She trembled when I asked her age.)
“I have to buy at least four or five things,” said al-Falasi, who lives in Dubai but doesn’t have a clear budget. “I like the thick black robe.”
As I walked around in the Symphony exhibition, watching women measure their size and following the assistant who carried a bunch of hangers to the dressing area, I understood why women felt compelled to shop during Ramadan. There are many things to buy: the social calendar has evolved from a quiet family time to a month-long marathon iftar, shopping events, and coffee dates with friends, relatives, and colleagues. In the bay area, late-night social celebrations are held in specially designed tents. By the time of the last fast, the endless social activities were not over: Eid al-Fitr was another three-day lunch, dinner and social call.
Online stores and marketers have also promoted the need for brand new wardrobes for the season. Net-a-Porter launched a “ready for Ramadan” promotion in mid-May; its Ramadan edition includes Gucci pants and white and black full-sleeved dresses, as well as a series of gold accessories. Before Ramadan, Islamic fashion retailer Modanisa offered free gowns for orders over $75. It now has a planning section for “Iftar activities”. The Modist also has a Ramadan section on its website, showcasing exclusive work by designers such as Sandra Mansour and Mary Katrantzou, as well as commercials shot in collaboration with Somali-American model Halima Aden.
Online shopping is on the rise during Ramadan: Last year, retailer Souq.com reported that online shopping in Saudi Arabia increased by 15% during the fast period. An analysis of e-commerce transactions in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia shows that e-commerce transactions during Ramadan in 2015 surged by 128%. Google analysts report that beauty-related searches surged during Ramadan: searches for hair care (an increase of 18%), cosmetics (an increase of 8%), and perfume (an increase of 22%) eventually peaked around Eid al-Fitr. ”
It’s hard to estimate how much women consume-no matter where I see Symphony deals, women either carry large shopping bags or measure their size when placing an order. “Maybe 10,000 dirhams (US$2,700)?” Faissal el-Malak, the designer who was exhibiting gowns made from traditional Middle Eastern woven fabrics, hesitated to make bold guesses. According to Munaza Ikram, manager of UAE designer Shatha Essa, at the booth of UAE designer Shatha Essa, a plain undecorated dress priced at AED 500 (US$136) was very popular. Ikram said: “We have a lot of people who want to give it as a Ramadan gift.” “So one person came in and said,’I want three, four.”
Reina Lewis is a professor at the London School of Fashion (UAL) and has been studying Muslim fashion for ten years. She is not surprised that women now spend more during Ramadan—because this is what everyone is doing. “I think this is the connection between consumer culture and fast fashion and different types of communities and religious customs,” said Lewis, author of “Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Culture”. “In many parts of the world, of course in the wealthy global north, everyone has more clothes than they did 50 years ago.”
Apart from consumerism, there may be another reason why people are drawn into the Ramadan shopping spree. In her book “Generation M: Young Muslims Who Changed the World”, advertising director and author Shelina Janmohamed pointed out: “In Ramadan, suspending’normal’ life instead of fasting with all other Muslim friends and family members means The volume is opened for Muslim identity.” Janmohamed observed that when people gather together for religious and social ceremonies, the sense of community increases—whether it’s visiting a mosque or sharing food.
If Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are considered serious matters in Muslim-majority countries, then this spirit is equally strong in second and third generation immigrant communities around the world. Shamaila Khan is a 41-year-old native Londoner with family in Pakistan and the UK. The cost of buying Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr for herself and others, plus hosting Eid al-Fitr parties, may reach hundreds of pounds. During Ramadan, Khan’s family would gather to break the fast on weekends, and before Eid al-Fitr, her friends would hold a holiday party before Eid al-Fitr, which features the same elements as the Pakistani bazaars. Khan hosted all activities last year, including inviting henna artists to paint women’s hands.
When visiting Pakistan in December last year, Khan bought a bunch of new clothes, which she was going to wear during the upcoming social season of Ramadan. “I have 15 new sets of clothes in my closet, and I will wear them for Eid and Eid,” she said.
Clothing for Ramadan and Eid Mubarak is usually only a one-time purchase. In Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, robes are still useful after Ramadan, and gowns may be used as day wear. But they will not wear them at weddings, because Arab women wear gorgeous cocktail dresses and gowns. The Internet will never forget: once you show a set of clothing to a friend — and put a hashtag like #mandatoryeidpicture on Instagram — it may be placed behind the closet.
Although Khan is in London, fashion games are as powerful as they are in Pakistan. “Before, no one knew if you repeated a set of clothes, but now you can’t escape it in England!” Khan smiled. “It must be new. I have a Sana Safinaz [clothing] that I bought a few years ago, and I wore it once. But because it has been a few years old and there are [online] everywhere, I can’t wear it. And I There are many cousins, so there is also a self-evident competition! Everyone wants to wear the latest trends.”
For practical, economic and cultural reasons, not all Muslim women use this dedication to transform their wardrobes. In countries like Jordan, although women buy new clothes for Eid al-Fitr, they are not keen on the idea of shopping in Ramadan, and their social schedules are not as tense as in a wealthy Gulf city like Dubai.
But Jordanian women still make concessions to tradition. “I’m surprised that even women who don’t wear a headscarf want to cover themselves,” said Elena Romanenko, a Ukrainian stylist turned designer living in Amman, Jordan.
On a hot May afternoon, when we met at a Starbucks in Amman, Romanenko was wearing a robe, buttoned shirt, dazzling jeans and high heels, and her hair was wrapped in a turban-like cotton scarf. This is the kind of clothes she wears during the activities in her 20s that she must participate in with her husband’s extended family during Ramadan. “More than 50% of my customers don’t wear a headscarf, but they will buy this gown,” the 34-year-old woman said, pointing to her “robes,” a silk gown with floral patterns. “Because even without a headscarf, [woman] wants to cover herself. She doesn’t need to wear long things inside, she can wear a shirt and pants.”
Romanenko converted to Islam, and after being frustrated by Amman’s lack of mid-range modest and fashionable clothing options, he began to design these robe-like robes, brightly colored, with floral and animal motifs.
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But even if the clothes are in stock, it doesn’t mean that everyone can buy them. Economic conditions significantly affect women’s shopping styles and clothing budgets-almost everyone I have spoken to mentioned how expensive Eid al-Fitr clothing is now compared to a few years ago. In Jordan, with an inflation rate of 4.6% in February, buying Ramadan wardrobes has become increasingly difficult. “I’m a bit worried because I don’t think women are willing to spend more than 200 Jordanian dinars (US$281), maybe even less,” Romanenko said, who wants to know how to price her abaya collection. “The economic situation is changing,” she continued, her voice worried. She recalled that in the early years, Ramadan pop-up shops and bazaars in Amman would soon be sold out. Now, if you can move half of the stock, it is considered a success.
Women who don’t spend money on Ramadan wardrobes may still shine in Hari Raya outfits. Nur Diyana binte Md Nasir, 29, who works in a Singapore hospital, said: “I tend to wear what I already own [in Ramadan].” “It’s either a long skirt or a top with a long skirt or trousers. I am. The dress code stays the same; the pastel color things I am most comfortable with.” For Eid Mubarak, she spends about $200 on new clothes-such as baju kurung with lace, traditional Malay clothing and headscarves.
30-year-old Dalia Abulyazed Said runs a start-up company in Cairo. The reason why she does not shop for Ramadan is mainly because she finds that Egyptian clothes prices are “ridiculous”. During Ramadan, she wears the clothing she already owns to participate in social activities-she is usually invited to participate in at least four family iftars and 10 non-family activities. “This year Ramadan is summer, I might buy some new clothes,” she said.
After all, women will-reluctantly or willingly-get involved in the shopping cycle of Ramadan and Eid, especially in Muslim countries, where markets and shopping malls are filled with a festive atmosphere. There is even a crossover of mainstream trends-this Ramadan, gown and long tunic is in millennial pink.
Ramadan shopping has all the elements of a self-perpetuating cycle. As Ramadan becomes more commercialized and marketers implement the idea of preparing wardrobes for Ramadan, women feel that they need more clothing, so more and more retailers sell product lines to Muslim women. With more and more designers and stores launching Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr series, the endless visual flow encourages people to shop. As Lewis pointed out, after years of being ignored by the global fashion industry, Muslim women are often happy that international brands have noticed Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. But there is an element “be careful what you want”.
“What does it mean when the religious part of your identity-I mean your ethnic religious identity, not just piety-is commoditized?” Lewis said. “Do women feel that their piety is priced because they don’t wear beautiful new clothes every day of Ramadan?” For some women, this may have already happened. For others, the Ramadan-Eid al-Fitr Industrial Park continues to attract them, one gown in soft tones at a time.
Post time: Dec-20-2021