Stefano Gabbana gave the world a glimpse of a brand new direction for Dolce and Gabbana on his Instagram page yesterday. Posted with the caption, "Dolce & Gabbana the Abaya collection ❤️❤️❤️❤️ #dgabaya ❤️," several shots of a new range of hijabs and abayas, designed to cater to the needs of the brand's Muslim customers, showed a neutral colour palette of black and beige with a sprinkling of prints, embellishment and lace.
There is a nod to the Dolce Sicilian signature with some abayas featuring a flash of lemon prints, red roses and pretty daisies, lending that classic Italian flair to the range. The full collection premiered on Style.com/Arabia and was styled with an array of Dolce accessories, including heavily bejewelled sunglasses and snake print bags.
According to a report by Thomson Reuters, Muslim shoppers reportedly spent over £180 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013 and are expected to spend over £330 billion by 2019, so it seems like a canny business move to tap into an ever expanding market. But the new collection also signals an important development for Muslim women with an interest in fashion, who previously felt that they were being ignored in many ways.
Many brands have previously created special capsule collections around Ramadan; DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de la Renta and even Zara and Mango have all offered ranges. But as Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl.net told Fortune.com: "[designers are] cashing in on Ramadan—for the other 11 months of the year, we really don’t hear anything from these companies or brands.” Dolce and Gabbana's Abaya collection will, then, come as a welcome change for many Muslim shoppers.
While these are the first images we've seen of the new line, Gabbana did reveal that it was in the works last year. In an interview with Middle Eastern newspaper The National, the designer said: “I’m really fascinated with the Middle East and we’ve just completed a prêt-a-porter collection of abayas and sheylas,” he said. “Pieces have some lace, embroidery and some prints – but not too much. They will be available in the UAE this October.”
Dolce and Gabbana comes hot on the heels of high street behemoth Uniqlo, who released its very first range of hijabs in collaboration with British artist Hana Tajima last year. H&M also made an effort to represent its Muslim customers when Mariah Idrissi was cast as one of the faces of its 'Close The Loop' campaign.