Don't miss




AU warns 6,000 jihadists could return to Africa

Read more


Trump's accusers say #MeToo... again

Read more


Game Changer? Middle East Diplomacy after Trump's Jerusalem Move

Read more


Exclusive: Niger's president warns Malian state 'could collapse'

Read more


USA: Voters speak out ahead of high-stakes Alabama Senate race

Read more


Readying the eurozone for future storms: EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis

Read more


Russian influence, reforms, corruption: Challenges for Europe's Eastern partners

Read more


Kidnapped and sold in Libya: Our Observer's story

Read more


Music show: Son Little, Eminem, N.E.R.D & 'adieu' Johnny Hallyday

Read more

france 24 Culture

Burkini sales soar in wake of French beach ban, designer says

© Saeed Khan, AFP | Muslim models wearing burkini swimsuits at a shop in Sydney, Australia, on August 19.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-08-23

A controversial French ban on wearing the burkini has boosted sales of the swimsuit – particularly among non-Muslim women, says the Australian designer credited with creating the full-body swimwear.

The burkini has sparked huge controversy in France, with bans introduced in 15 southeastern towns by local governments citing "security" concerns following a series of deadly jihadist attacks.

But the debate has merely served to create a new market for her products, says Australian-Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti, who created her first swimwear for Muslim women more than a decade ago and holds the trademark on the names "burkini" and "burqini". 

"I can tell you that online on Sunday, we received 60 orders – all of them non-Muslim," Zanetti, 48, told AFP, adding that she usually receives only 10 to 12 orders on Sundays.

"It's just been so hectic."

Zanetti did not yet have sales figures for the past week but said she has also been receiving numerous messages of support – and only one disparaging email – since the French bans were put in place earlier this month.

These include messages from cancer survivors and other swimmers who want to wear her light-weight, quick-drying garments as protection from the sun.

"A lot of the correspondence... was that they are survivors of skin cancer and they've always been looking for something like this, saying, 'Thank god we've found someone like this producing such a swimsuit'," she said.

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson wore a burkini while on vacation in Australia in April 2011; dozens of photos of her sporting the full-coverage outfit quickly appeared in British newspapers and websites along with the unavoidable online commentary.

"Perhaps she thought what she wore on the beach was her own business," The Guardian noted wryly at the time. "How wrong could she be."

While there are other Islamic swimsuits on the market, Zanetti has said her designs are the first to be streamlined into two-piece swimwear with a head covering.

"Women are standing together on this," she said of the messages of support she has received. "It doesn't matter what race or religion."

She said the one critical email asked Zanetti why she wanted to help women in France cover up, saying: "We prefer our women to be naked". 

The burkini has not attracted as much debate in Australia, where people regularly cover up even on beaches to protect their skin from the harsh southern sun.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday dismissed the idea of introducing a similar ban, saying Canadians should rise above the controversy and calling for the respect of individual rights and choices.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-08-23


    French burkini party ban sparks political storm

    Read more


    Three more French towns set to join burkini ban as PM gives backing

    Read more


    French govt defends burkini bans as fourth city plans to prohibit swimsuit

    Read more