When Faith Meets Fashion

Exploring Ethiopia’s Unique Ramadan Style

The holy month of Ramadan transcends religious practice, shaping spiritual observances and fashion trends. During this sacred period, the demand for modest clothing surges, reflecting religious requirements and global fashion influences. This dynamic interplay is transforming Ethiopia’s Ramadan fashion landscape, with a growing presence of imported garments and locally tailored designs catering to this evolving demand.

EBR’s Nejat Ahmed delves into the intricate connections between faith, style, and the fashion choices of Ethiopian Muslims during Ramadan.

As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, Muslims around the world engage in spiritual reflection and devotion.  Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, is a period of profound spiritual significance characterised by fasting, prayer, and acts of charity. Muslims around the world fast, refraining from dawn until sunset, fostering self-discipline and inner reflection. Beyond individual devotion, Ramadan fosters a sense of communal unity and empathy, with families and communities coming together for Iftar meals and special prayers. It is a time of heightened spirituality, marked by the recitation of the Quran, increased acts of charity, and the pursuit of forgiveness and self-improvement.

During this sacred time, the clothing fashion business witnesses a vibrant market for Islamic fashion that upholds the principles of modesty and embraces the cultural diversity of Muslim communities. The observance of Ramadan often inspires individuals to seek clothing options that align with the values of faith while allowing for self-expression.

In recent years, there has been a notable shift in the availability and accessibility of clothing options that cater to the specific needs of Muslims during Ramadan. Designers, brands, and local businesses have recognised the growing demand for modest fashion and have responded by creating garments that adhere to Islamic dress codes while incorporating elements of contemporary style.

One significant trend in the clothing fashion business during Ramadan is the importation of garments from international fashion hubs such as Dubai and Turkey. These regions have long been renowned for their expertise in modest fashion, offering a wide range of stylish and modest clothing choices. Many individuals seek out these imported garments due to their high quality, intricate designs, and adherence to Islamic dress codes.

Amina Hassan, a dedicated salesperson at a renowned abaya shop in Addis Ababa around Bethel, has observed a growing demand for abayas that combine traditional and modern styles while meeting the religious preferences of the customers. “I sell abayas that are imported from Dubai and Turkey.” Amina takes great care in ensuring that the imported garments not only reflect the religious values of the customers but also adhere to religious guidelines, selecting modest designs suitable for various religious occasions. By offering a diverse range of styles and price ranges, Amina and the abaya shop cater to customers seeking unique abayas that honour their religious beliefs while embracing contemporary fashion trends. “The pricing of our abayas depends on factors such as the intricacy of the design, the quality of the materials used, and the brand. Prices typically range from ETB 2000 to ETB 10,000, allowing customers to find options that suit their preferences and budget.”

Similarly, Kedir Ibrahim, a seller specialising in Jellabiya and Thobe, recognises the religious significance of the garments during Ramadan. “Jellabiya holds significant religious significance, particularly during the sacred month of Ramadan. Ethiopian men understand the importance of expressing their devotion and respect during this time, and Jellabiya serves as a tangible representation of their religious identity. As a seller specialising in Jellabiya, I have observed a growing trend among customers seeking garments that align with their religious needs. To cater to their discerning preferences, we import Jellabiya from renowned regions such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. Our collection offers a diverse range of high-quality Jellabiya that resonates deeply with the religious sensibilities of our customers.”  Kedir told EBR.

According to Kedir Prices for Jellabiya can vary depending on the design and fabric. On average, our Jellabiya prices range from approximately ETB1000 to ETB6000 and more.

However, in recent times, local designers have recognised the demand for custom-made abayas and dresses tailored to the preferences of their customers. This shift towards personalised fashion has allowed individuals to express their unique style while adhering to modesty guidelines. Local designers collaborate closely with their clients, incorporating their preferences in terms of colours, embellishments, and silhouettes. This trend has gained popularity as it offers a sense of exclusivity and allows individuals to showcase their individuality through their clothing choices.

Furthermore, the advent of e-commerce and the adoption of online marketplaces have revolutionised the way people shop for Islamic fashion during Ramadan. With the convenience of online platforms, individuals can explore a vast array of options from various designers and brands, both locally and internationally. Online shopping provides a seamless experience, allowing customers to browse, compare prices, read reviews, and make purchases from the comfort of their homes.

Elham Jemal, a highly skilled designer renowned for her expertise in creating exquisite custom garments, proudly owns and operates Elham Abaya, an online startup specialising in abayas. Her talent and artistry have garnered widespread recognition through her popular Telegram and TikTok pages. Elham shared her insights to EBR, stating, “During this period, I received numerous orders for custom abayas and dresses that cater to the religious needs of my clients. Many customers specifically request designs that reflect the clothing style and modesty associated with Islamic countries.” She emphasised the significance of incorporating designs that align with Islamic traditions and values. When it comes to pricing, Elham ensures that her creations are accessible to a wide range of customers, with abayas and dresses priced competitively based on factors such as design complexity and fabric choice. She believes in offering high-quality garments at fair and reasonable prices, enabling her clients to embrace modest fashion without breaking their budgets. Elham shared, “The price range for abayas or dresses typically falls between ETB 1900 and ETB 6000, allowing customers to find options that suit their preferences and budget while still experiencing the luxury of well-crafted and stylish garments.”

Further, Rahima Mohammed, a young professional and frequent shopper for modest clothing during Ramadan, expressed her appreciation for the growing trend of custom-made garments. She said, “I love the idea of having clothing tailored to my preferences. It allows me to express my personal style while maintaining modesty. I enjoy collaborating with local designers who provide a range of options in terms of colours, fabrics, and embellishments.” Rahima also highlighted the convenience of online shopping, saying, “Online platforms have made it so much easier to explore different designs, compare prices, and make purchases from the comfort of my own home.”

The market for Islamic fashion during Ramadan is a beautiful blend of faith, culture, style, and convenience, and even in Ethiopia, it continues to evolve. This evolving market caters to the diverse needs and preferences of the Muslim community during this sacred month, offering a wide range of garments that allow individuals to observe Ramadan with reverence while expressing their unique Muslim identity. Whether through the availability of imported clothing, the emergence of talented local designers, or the growing presence of online marketplaces, the fashion industry in Ethiopia has become more accessible and convenient than ever before. Local designers and shop owners are keenly attuned to the demand for personalised options that align with modesty guidelines, ensuring that customers can find garments that reflect their individual style and budget. Furthermore, the integration of online platforms has revolutionised the way people explore and purchase Islamic fashion, enabling them to effortlessly browse and buy from the comfort of my home. This dynamic shift in the Ethiopian market reflects an ever-evolving landscape where individuals effortlessly intertwine their religious observance with their personal style, thus contributing to the flourishing growth of the Islamic fashion market during the revered month of Ramadan.

As the fashion industry progresses, it is heartening to observe the expansion and embrace of modest fashion during Ramadan. Whether through the acquisition of imported garments from fashion hubs or the emergence of local designers providing bespoke options, the market is adapting to cater to the varied needs and preferences of the Muslim community. Moreover, the integration of e-commerce platforms has democratised access to these clothing choices, empowering individuals to articulate their faith and fashion sense conveniently and inclusively. EBR

12th Year • April 2024 • No. 128

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ethiopian Business Review | EBR is a first-class and high-quality monthly business magazine offering enlightenment to readers and a platform for partners.

2Q69+2MM, Jomo Kenyatta St, Addis Ababa

Tsehay Messay Building

Contact Us

+251 961 41 41 41