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The high cost of modest garments

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
12 March 2024 | 23:17 SAST
2 minute read

Image: Commercial Interior Design

There is nothing more elegant than a woman cloaked in swathes of luxurious fabric carefully crafted into a beautiful abaya. The traditional abaya is more than a statement of cultural heritage, symbolising faith and modesty in a world where modesty is more uncommon than not.

Dating back 4 000 years to the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia, according to some historians, the traditional abaya remains a powerful symbol of faith, cultural identity, and modesty.

They have evolved over time into statement pieces, ranging from simple cloaks to garments woven into modern fashion items, which are often attached with hefty price tags.

The high price of abayas is a topic that warrants careful consideration. On one hand, the cost can be attributed to various factors such as quality of materials, craftsmanship, and brand reputation. However, on the other hand, the steep prices can pose economic barriers for some individuals and perpetuate socio-economic inequalities.

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge the craftsmanship and quality of materials that often contribute to the high price of abayas. Many abaya brands pride themselves on using high-quality fabrics like silk, chiffon, and crepe, which naturally come at a higher cost. Additionally, intricate embroidery, embellishments, and hand-sewn details add to the labour-intensive process of creating these garments.

Brand reputation plays a significant role in determining the cost of abayas. Established brands with a strong following and a history of craftsmanship often command higher prices due to their perceived value and exclusivity. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for the prestige associated with these brands.

However, while these factors may justify the high price of abayas from a production standpoint, it’s essential to consider the socio-economic implications. For many individuals, particularly those living in lower-income households or regions, the cost of purchasing a high-quality abaya may be prohibitive. This can create a sense of exclusion or inequality, as access to certain styles or brands becomes limited based on financial means.

Furthermore, when these garments are associated solely with luxury and opulence, it can overshadow their cultural and religious significance. This commodification of religious attire can undermine the values of modesty and humility that these garments are meant to uphold.

The high price of abayas is a multifaceted issue with both valid justifications and socio-economic implications. While factors such as quality of materials, craftsmanship, and brand reputation contribute to the cost, it’s crucial to consider how these prices may create barriers for some individuals and perpetuate inequalities within society.

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