Shopping in Ramadan

Two fashion industry experts give us the lowdown


The Holy Month of Ramadan (expected to fall around Wednesday July 18 to Saturday July 21 this year) is considered a time for reflection, sacrifice and good will. But what many don’t realise is that, due to the high number of social functions, iftars and sahoors, your wardrobe requires a lift like never before. Everyone from eclectic boutiques S*uce and Valleydez to high-street chain Jane Norman are jumping on board the Ramadan trend, offering stylish yet conservative collections for this period.

If you’re non-Muslim and are not too keen on fasting, one way you can adopt Islamic values during this time is to adhere to modest dress codes. Here, we chat to a buyer for Valleydez, Noor Badaro, and local designer Wafa Saifi about their collections and get the down low on why this trend takes place.

Noor Badaro, Valleydez buyer

Have you seen an increase in Ramadan collections this year?
Ramadan has always been a popular season, people love dressing up for iftar and post-iftar get-togethers. The demand of kaftans and long-sleeved dresses is high during the month, which is why we always include Ramadan collections in our boutiques. Nowadays, many local and regional designers approach us with Ramadan collections prior to the Holy Month.

How do Ramadan collections differ from ready-to-wear ranges?
Conservativeness is key during the month of Ramadan. We do end up having longer dresses and loose fitted garments. For summer we select light and heat-friendly fabrics while maintaining modesty.

On what basis do you select the collections?
Everything that comes into ValleyDez has to be unique and one-of-a-kind, this also applies to our Ramadan designs. For example, this season we have picked up a few edgy silk-printed kaftans with embellishments such as studded shoulder pads.

Is it appropriate for non-Muslims to wear Ramadan-style clothing?
It certainly is. We find many expat customers purchasing our Ramadan collections. Ramadan isn’t just for Muslims or Arabs, the month takes over the city – just like you’ll find anyone wearing a Santa hat at Christmas. The Ramadan lifestyle applies to many: most of us get to leave early and enjoy Ramadan tents.

Wafa Saifi, local designer

How should women dress during Ramadan?
Ramadan is the perfect time to go traditional and add modern accessories to update the pieces. One look I love at the moment is our range of belted jalabiyas [a traditional Muslim garment], the metal belts give a modern twist to classics shapes.

What motivated you to create this collection?
Ramadan is such a huge part of Dubai’s culture, the city comes alive during this month. I love being a part of that and since jalabiyas are such a huge part of my collection, how could I miss this season? The iftar parties and sahoors also make this time of year one of the busiest on Dubai’s social calendar.

How does your Ramadan collection differ from your normal ready-to-wear range?
The pieces for Ramadan tend to be more festive and a little more focused on print and embellishment than my normal collections.

Is it appropriate for non-Muslims to wear Ramadan-style clothing?
Of course! It’s great to see people living in Dubai embracing the local traditions and Ramadan is a huge part of that. Besides, which girl doesn’t love lounging around in a floaty silk jalabiya, whether she’s Muslim or not?

What are some ways to stay stylish while keeping covered during Ramadan?
Embrace jalabiyas and maxis, they will get you through the season without a hitch and keep you looking fabulous as well. Add modern accessories such as belts, head pieces and chunky bracelets to make the outfit your own.

Traditional clothing for men

‘My personal favourite for men would be Toby by Hatem Alakeel (04 339 9933). His thobes [long-sleeved ankle-length robes worn by Arab men] are traditional yet contemporary, he’s edgy and trendy and builds the bridge between tradition and modernism.’
Noor Badaro

‘Ramadan is a great time for men to break out their traditional pieces: thobes and pathanis [a style of trouser worn with a kurta, a loose falling shirt] look updated in non-conventional colour palettes. Soiree boutique (04 349 4995) has a good range of menswear by brands like Deepak Perwani.’
Wafa Saifi

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