SYDNEY (AFP) – What do you get when you cross Australian beach culture with a desire to remain clothed in a way acceptable to Muslim women? If you’re designer Aheda Zanetti, you get what she says is the world’s first two-piece Islamic swimsuit, the burkini.
While other Islamic swimsuits exist, Zanetti says her light-weight, head-to-ankle costumes are the first to be streamlined down to a two-piece suit incorporating a head covering. With Australian beaches full of girls in skimpy bikinis and revealing one-pieces, there was a “hole in the market that needed to be filled” for more modest beachwear, she said.
“A lot of girls were missing out, a lot of women were missing out, on a lot of sporting activities, including swimming,” Zanetti told AFP from the clutter of her southwestern Sydney shopfront. “There was nothing really suitable for them to wear if they wanted to participate in sport. And if they did participate in sports with a veil, or whatever they wanted to wear, there really wasn’t something suitable. The fabric was not right, the construction wasn’t right.”