Dolce & Gabbana is launching a collection to cater to its Muslim and Arab shoppers.
Debuted exclusively on Style.com/Arabia on Sunday, the Italian fashion house's very first Abaya collection features hijabs (headscarves) and abayas (traditional robe-like garments worn by Muslim women) in neutral hues with prints and details (such as lemons, daisies and roses — all themes in Dolce & Gabbana's spring 2016 collection) to "capture the Sicilian spirit of the house."
The collection's debut comes months after Stefano Gabbana alluded to the launch in Arab newspaper, The National. He told the paper, "I’m really fascinated with the Middle East and we’ve just completed a prêt-à-porter collection of abayas and sheylas. Pieces have some lace, embroidery, and some prints — but not too much."
Despite the progressive step the label has made for the Muslim fashion community, MuslimGirl.net editor-in-chief and CEO, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, questions whether the brand is "catering to Muslim women" or "exploiting" them.
She explains to Refinery29, "Muslim women are getting the visibility right now, but not necessarily the inclusivity…The model for the D&G [hijab and abaya] line is still a white-passing woman that might not even be Muslim."
However, Al-Khatahtbeh does think this is "an important moment in fashion where we can influence that relationship in the right direction."
Dolce & Gabbana isn't the first Western brand to cater to the needs of Muslim shoppers — last year, Uniqlo released its own range of hijabs, while H&M cast a hijab-wearing Muslim model, Mariah Idrissi, in its ad campaign for "Close the Loop." Net-a-Porter also featured a Ramadan Edit on its website and Oscar de la Renta, DKNY, Mango and Tommy Hilfiger have all released their own special Ramadan collections that were sold in the Middle East.
Tapping into the Muslim market makes sense for retailers, though. Fortune reports Muslims spent US$266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013 and are expected to spend US$484 billion by 2019. It will be interesting to see how other brands and retailers follow suit in catering to these consumers.
You can check out more from the Dolce & Gabbana Abaya collection below and view the full collection on Style.com/Arabia.