The main purpose of the holy month of Ramadan is to fast, pray, and give out charity. It is the month where the Quran takes over Muslim’s lives over other activities.
That, of course, adds to the ‘vibes’ of Ramadan which are mainly fatoor, (breaking the fast) gatherings and suhoor (pre-dawn meal) gatherings. However, there’s one thing that’s becoming almost as important as those meals. It’s the fashion choices.
Modesty section at Debenhams, Mall of the Emirates
Ramadan collection, by Middle Eastern designers at Harvey Nichols, Mall of the Emirates
“It’s a must to get ready for Ramadan, as the entire atmosphere and vibes would need so,” said Mariam Mohammed, a certified fashion designer from ESMOD Dubai. “Nowadays, Ramadan is full of events and gatherings, which requires showing up with a specific attire,” she added.
The Ramadan dress code is typically jalabiyas. Jalabiyas are long, loose dresses, that are usually full-sleeved. Fashion trends are moving away from the classical designs, however, and shifting into modern ones. For example, there are jalabiyas with the crescent and star embroidered on them.
“It’s not only a piece of cloth, but rather a message sewn within,” said Nour Hotait, a student at LAU Fashion Design, a university that is in collaboration with Elie Saab and the London College of Fashion.
One of the best pieces from the Ramadan collection at Harvey Nichols. It represents what Nour mentioned: “It has a message sewn on it”
Just like grocery shopping is important before Ramadan, clothes shopping is just another important task to get done before Ramadan starts. While fashion shouldn’t be one’s priority in Ramadan, style and dressing up have been a preferred topic of discussion between women during Ramadan. Fashion does change with the seasons, after all, and Ramadan is no exception.
“In the gulf, Ramadan is celebrated to another extent, mainly because countries’ traditions and culture revolves around religious rituals,” said Nour Hotait. “That’s why Ramadan clothing is important for people in the gulf,” she added, “their love for fashion has helped us enrich the concept of religious clothing.”
Usually, retailers release a new collection of clothes every season, either spring/summer collection or fall/winter collection. However there’s a recent trend of having a new seasonal collection – the ‘Ramadan collection’. There are many retailers that release their Ramadan collection at least one month before Ramadan. For example, there are very known high-end brands like Dolce & Gabbana and DKNY. Also, there are casual wear retailers like, Mango and Zara. There are also local brands that display their collections at department stores, for example, like Harvey Nichols and Debenhams.
ABB’s modesty collection at Debenhams that can also be added to your Ramadan collection as a cheaper option
A further look at the whole collection at Harvey Nichols, it’s just a small section at the store
“I do shop before Ramadan, usually from local brands/businesses, like ‘Designers Empire’,” said Mariam Mohammed.
People who do not have physical shops display their designs at an exhibition where there are many booths. Each person who has a licensed business can rent a booth and display their Ramadan collection designs. Those exhibitions are held at shopping malls, like Sunset mall and Mercato mall in Jumeirah. Recently there was an exhibition held in Wafi mall that displayed many home businesses’ Ramadan collection.
The Saray exhibition at Wafi mall. It was held from the 24th to the 28th of April 2018
This was taken the night before the start of the exhibition and this booth was one of the only ones that were ready for the next day
The prices, for most of Ramadan jalabiyas range from 200 to 2000, that’s if you want to go simple with your shopping and only wait for exhibitions to come up. However, if you decide to buy from high-end shops, like Harvey Nichols, you would need a larger budget as the prices range from 5000 to 20,000.
On top of that, however, Ramadan nights will happen and will be as fashionable if one was wearing a piece for 200 or 20,000. So, it seems that people are just that eager to be prepared for the family/friends gatherings that happen during the holy month of Ramadan.
All photos taken by Fatma Kamal Al Yousuf