Modest can be modern: Breaking the stigma around traditional abayas

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Posted on May 18 2022

Modest can be modern: Breaking the stigma around traditional abayas

 Folla Abaya by thowby


When we look at a woman dressed in attire that covers her head-to-toe, our innate instinct is to deem her traditional – not in a culturally-rooted way, but in a way that assumes regressiveness. Modesty, such as associated with Islamic culture, has often carried the misplaced idea of a lack of the woman’s agency. But how true is that notion, especially in the 21st century when women are taking forward strides in equality the world over? 

woman wearing beautiful yellow color abaya by thowby

Sogha abaya by thowby

Fashion is an expression and an expression of modesty through traditional clothing is as valid as its Western contemporaries. So when it comes to abayas – robes that grace the frame of the wearer’s body, from the shoulder down to the ankles – identity and style can peacefully coexist (in fact, even complement each other). Dubai abayas are always esteemed high in the abaya fashion world and we have an upper hand in this area. We at thowby believe strongly in that value and, hence, are pushing the envelope on inclusive, stigma-free fashion with the best abayas in Dubai. 

Historically, an abaya was linked to the traditional customs of the Islamic world, figuring as a garment that was restricted to the wardrobes of Muslim women. Not anymore. Globalisation and intercultural experiences have shaped identities so, that women from across cultures, countries, backgrounds and religions are finding comfort and taste in the ever-versatile abaya. 

woman wearing Uganda abaya by thowby

Uganda Abaya by thowby

The founder, Houda Abdulrahman shared her thoughts on modernity and modesty, and here is what she had to say, "one should never be judged by their external appearance because the essence of who they are lies at their core, making them who they are from the inside. Never judge a book by its cover. Modesty is a preference and the fashion aspect with respect to the design is what makes it modern. Modest clothing that has the best designs and relevance to the style statement for the wearer makes it modern in itself. The concept of modernity has been highly narrowed to one perspective."

At its essence, the abaya is a delicate, classy piece of clothing that gives an instant lift to the wearer’s confidence, making a statement that speaks of pure sophistication. It is a classic example of sustaining tradition in the modern world, while being accessible to a wide audience – something that thowby understands well, because we are committed to exactly that vision. A vision that inspires, elevates, and supports the global sisterhood! 

Sure enough, like thowby, there are others fashion leaders aspiring towards a change in perspective, hoping to rid the world of stigma and sexism that surrounds women’s sartorial choices. One of them is Ameera Hammouda, founder of a namesake modest clothing line started in 2021, who wanted to “show people that people choose to dress this way [in modest fashion] and it can be beautiful and empowering,” as said in an interview.

Online abaya shops and boutiques, such as ours, are batting for bigger reach in this age of digital boom. By making the best use of both actual and virtual business resources to spread our message of fashion-forward, for-all clothing to more women, we are aiming for real impact that will help them discover their selfhood. 

Talking to Gulf Times, thowby founder Houda Abdulrahman reflected on the search to find the right channels for her business, saying, “We already had consignments with multi-brand boutiques and exhibitions in the UAE. Taking an e-commerce route was a second solution for us. It gave us a platform to reach a global audience and reach far and wide with our vision for fashion.” Read the full interview here

Representation matters now more than ever. Industries and markets cannot speak of and for women, bracketing them into age-old cultural stereotyping, without passing the mic to them. Come, join the conversation at thowby! 

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