The burkini is a loose-fitting swimsuit that leaves only a woman’s face, hands and feet exposed. In 2016, it became a controversial garment as dozens of French towns banned the suit, claiming it defied French laws on secularism. A French court eventually overruled that ban, ruling that the garment posed no threat to public order. Since then, sales have jumped from an average 200 a month to over 2,000 by both Muslim and non-Muslim woman alike (40% of orders are from non-Muslims who are looking for modesty beach wear).
“Whoever it was in France (that banned the burkini) has done so much good for my business and for women who thought they could never buy a swimsuit like this,” says designer Aheda Zanett who was born in Lebanon and now resides in Australia. “It was all about women’s rights, it was all about choices.”