“It offers the most stylish, high-quality and flattering full-coverage swimwear that Speedo has created yet,” says brand manager Neha Munjal.
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“The team researched different materials that would suit the requirements of modest swimwear apparel, which would allow the performance of a serious swimmer while meeting the requirements of modest dressing. For example, what would prevent the most drag in the water, yet not cling too much or become partially transparent when wet.”
Established brands aside, independent designers across the globe are choosing to specialise in this niche market, too.
“Real women want to look elegant, chic and glamorous,” says Ayca Makbule Ture, the designer behind Turkish brand Mayovera, which launched modest swimwear in 2015 featuring sequined and leopard patterns. “Women prefer detailed clothes, not plain clothes, so why not on the beach, too?”
The designs she put on the runway at this year’s Modanisa Istanbul Modest Fashion Week couldn’t even be distinguished as swimwear at first glance – they looked like sophisticated ready-to-wear separates, giving consumers convenient beach-to-boardwalk ensembles.
Her brand was inspired by travels to Pakistan, where she noticed that many Muslim women avoided hotel swimming pools due to a lack of readily available covered-up swimwear.
Her burkinis feature heritage block prints and wrap silhouettes, and some are reminiscent of South Asian kurtis or tunics.
“For the geometric styles, I got inspirations from Islamic art, gardens and labyrinth designs, and some traditional fabric patterns from Africa, India and Mexico,” she says.
Munamer burkinis are all manufactured in Italy and marketed as luxury modest swimwear – they’re priced at about Dh1,000.
“People aren’t used to considering the burkini as something that’s ‘fashion’, so they are still wary about investing more money on a swimsuit … they need to know that something more sophisticated, high quality and premium exists in the market,” says Taffarello.
The burkini has even been donned by women who simply seek protection from UV rays or aren’t comfortable putting their bodies on display.
British television star Nigella Lawson and Hollywood’s Lindsay Lohan are two famous faces who have opted for burkinis while on holiday. Likewise, while most of Taffarello’s clients live in Europe and the UAE, her luxury swimwear is attracting non-Muslims, too.
“Recently I got some orders from Italian women who want to protect their skin while wearing something feminine and comfortable.”
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