Abayas: A History of Fashion and Decency

In many cultures and countries all over the world, women wear and buy shoes, dresses , gowns and designer pieces but the same cant be said for women in some of the GCC countries. In UAE for example our women have one extra piece of clothing to put into consideration, which is the “Abaya”. An Abaya is a robe that is mainly composed of black cloth. It has been used the most in the Middle East countries considered as an important part of their culture and religion.

The essentials of an “Abaya” are simple: “That it covers the body (Except for the face and hands) and that it does not show areas that might trigger a male’s interest”. Throughout the years, women started taking things into their own hands. They started changing “Abayas” and creating new styles that gave off different fashion statements. In the UAE, local women developed “Abayas” and added another reason for wearing them…and that reason was “Fashion”. Many stores opened and competition burst between rivals. Just like famous brands would release clothes for every new season (Spring-Summer, Fall-Winter, and Summer Cruise), the UAE “Abaya” designers chose seasons of their own. The seasons chosen for Abayas are divided into different occasions that occur throughout the year such as Ramadan, Eid AlFitr, Eid AlAdha, and winter. The reason these seasons were chosen is because they are considered to be the peak seasons for Abaya purchases.

One of the emerging fashion designers is the UAE National Alia AlRayes, the founder of “Be.You.Tiful” Abayas. Alia’s abayas feature many exclusive and uncommon designs. She designs abayas that reveal the beauty of a woman while maintaining the basics of an abaya. Her designs tend to differ and take another path from the abayas of other designers, she shows this in her slogan, which says: “A Passion for Exclusivity”. Alia’s designs have proven to attract the eyes of Arabian woman due to their pure and original design that is suitable for numerous occasions.


On the other hand, one of the high end and most well known Abaya designers is Hessa AlObaidli. Before entering the fashion industry, Hessa was inspired by her mother’s talent to sew. Seeing her mother sewing, Hessa picked up the craft at the age of 10 and developed a talent that she wanted to use to in a professional way. In order to do that, Hessa build her own brand by using her name, she called her brand “HESSEH”. She used this in order to promote herself and to show that she was proud of her abaya designs that were distinctly related to her. Even though Hessa had knowledge in international fashion, Hessa chose to dwell in the designs of abayas because she wanted to benefit the women in her religion and give them a new fashionable look that still maintained the standards of decency. The most dominant thing about Hessa’s designs is that she took elements of international fashion and introduced them into her designs.

All in all, Abayas have been exposed to a lot of changes throughout history. These changes were necessary because they showed women throughout the world that just because Muslim ladies are confound by the abaya, they still have a sense in fashion. This made Arabian women able to compete with other designers not only in the abaya industry, but also in other industries such as Dresses, Accessories, and other wears.


By : Abdulla al Rayes

Twitter : @AbdullaAlRayes


About therabbitholeae

An Emirati initiative that's used as a platform to combine fashion designers from the UAE & the GCC to promote their talents. By: Rabbits wrapped in creativity! View all posts by therabbitholeae

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