My abaya story goes 10 years back when I wore my first at the age of 11. This is where it all started; I tried many styles to find my own, explored how to wear them and what’s best to call mine. As a young girl from the UAE, I had my dress-up adventures, from adorning abayas worn by women in my family, typically black and made of Saloona fabric, a dark dye of black, all the way to colored abayas in every fabric you can think of, including organza and velvet. Then came the modern fabrics of linen and raw silk in recent years.
A woman on @TheLettersProject, an Instagram page, posted how women are now judged based on the choice of abayas. Has the black abaya become the stamp of approval, or should we be able to choose unique styles that are attuned to our own sense of dressing?
Since my passion for abayas is not limited to a place or time and I like following trends, I may seem like I’m trying to reinvent the traditional outfit. But the fact is that I don’t see myself giving up on the abaya, which is the cornerstone of our local dress and tells the story of the UAE women across generations. As abaya design has come a long way, with many uncharted territories reached in making it, I took a chance and created my own line, complying with my idea of fashion and social responsibility.
I don’t see myself giving up on the abaya, which is the cornerstone of our local dress and tells the story of the UAE women across generations
My experience was limited to a single launch, with my philosophy revolving around exceptional quality, sustainability, prioritizing kindness to the environment, and celebrating craftsmanship. It may be an impact of the pandemic or a trend, though unnoticed locally, that we now see every abaya designer considering and announcing their commitment to the environment.
The best way to choose your abaya is by thinking of it as an investment, worthy of putting some thought into. Whatever color or fabric it may be, it should stand for what you believe in. Don’t fear judgment on your style – your only concern should be the process behind creating it and the impact it’ll have on the environment.
Nada AlGhurair is an advocate in the making. She attended Latifa School for Girls and then pursued a Bachelor’s degree in law at an esteemed university in London. She’s currently studying for the NY Bar qualification. Through Gen Z Emirati, she’ll take us through her values, of consumption as access rather than a possession, while seeking an individual identity and addressing ethical concerns. She believes in taking advantage of technological advances when dealing with challenging economic, legal and social matters facing her generation.