Article in brief: Author takes a closer look at why Ramadan collections are extremely sought-after.
The comfort of a kaftan is dual. Firstly, there is the benefit of wearing light clothes during the intense heat when the weather is all but welcoming. But more significantly, some comfort lies in the way that even the touch of it is accompanied by the swell of memories of mothers, living their 1980’s summers in their beloved kaftans and cover-ups. Still, where 30 years ago they had a traditional air about them, these past few seasons kaftans, jallabiyas and abayas alike have been altered with modern details, signifying a change in conventional clothing.
Recently, regional designers have tapped into the kaftan industry and launch a collection each year during Ramadan, in what is now known as the “Ramadan Collection”, showing their pieces at exhibitions held in malls or hotels prior to the Holy Month. Usually these “designers” tend to lack the proper expertise with designing clothes and only make an attempt to try designing jallabiyas and abayas for Ramadan or Eid in order to rally customers. “Huge educational background is the strongest element for a successful brand. Then comes your talent!” exclaims Yasmin Al Mulla, founder and creative director of YNM Dubai, Dubai based Design Firm; specialized in contemporary ready-to-wear garments.
These Ramadan collections are promoted through social media outlets, mainly Instagram, to create a hype surrounding their pieces and often claiming that the kaftans and abayas are supposedly “sold out” minutes after posting the picture of those items. Upon closer observation one can notice a repetitive pattern in these collections: the prices of these kaftans or abayas are particularly high, despite the simplicity of the design.
Some causes of high pricing comes with the expenses such as getting the pieces sewn at the local tailor’s, the rent of the space at the exhibitions, and several added costs. “During Ramadan, designers mainly source kaftans and abayas locally,” says Marriam Mossalli, founder and consultant of Niche Arabia, a luxury consultancy firm, “in the end, it’s the customer that’s paying the price, and that’s not their fault.” The high prices can act as a repellant to the customer, often driving them away. In other cases some customers are willing to pay no matter how expensive the piece is, in order to be the first to purchase the kaftan or abaya from the collection. It can be viewed as another way of manipulating the price due to high demand.
And not only have the regional designers taken advantage of the Ramadan collections to charge high prices, but also internationally established brands have also taken notice of the enticing demand from Middle Eastern consumers for kaftans, and so they have provided their target customers with the required pieces. Online retailers went on to launch campaigns centered on Ramadan pieces styled along with other items from different shoe/accessory brands for promotion purposes, calling it the “Ramadan Edit”. Despite the international designers nailing the kaftans in terms of quality and artistry, they failed to include the traditional details that Middle Eastern customers mainly look for. Not to mention the fact that the price range is extremely high.
As far as I’ve personally seen, customers are willing to pay for the kaftans and abayas designed by regional designers, but the same cannot be said for the international brands. It seems they have a long way to go. The undisclosed dilemma though is actually with most regional designers and their lack of experience and commitment with producing consistent collections for all seasons throughout the year. “Their high season is Ramadan and they need to evolve beyond that,” Mossalli goes on to say, “Designers need to learn to do other collections during the year and not rely heavily on one month”.
Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
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