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How Do I Become an Abaya Designer?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

To become an abaya designer, you will typically need to complete formal training in fashion design as well as in sewing, textiles, and pattern making. In addition to fashion-specific training, you will also need to develop an understanding of the cultural and design aspects of abayas themselves. If you want to sell your designs to a major abaya manufacturer so that they can be produced and sold on a mass scale, you may need to move to a fashion industry center where you can work closely with manufacturers of Islamic clothing designs. You also have the option of not affiliating with major manufacturers after you become an abaya designer and either selling your designs on your own or affiliating with a small manufacturer or retail shop.

An abaya is a robe or cloak that is typically worn by women in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf region states. Abayas are designed to offer significant coverage of the body as a means of conforming to Islamic understandings of modesty. The abaya fits loosely over the body and covers a woman from her neck down to her feet. Women typically wear a headscarf with their abaya and may also wear a face veil. In some countries, wearing an abaya or similar clothing is required by law.

A woman wearing an abaya and niqab.
A woman wearing an abaya and niqab.

Training in the fundamentals of fashion design will be an important part of your quest to become an abaya designer. In many places, you will be able to attend fashion design school. In preparation for this formal training, you should take classes in both art and sewing, as both skills will be essential as you embark on your new career. While you are studying fashion design, you will learn about how to construct a garment and select textiles and appropriate embellishment techniques. You may also learn about various design innovations that you can incorporate into your garments to ensure a good fit and a pleasing appearance.

Another consideration when you become an abaya designer is learning to design abayas that are culturally appropriate. Abayas are often worn as a matter of religious observance, so it will be important to understand how your designs are perceived by others. In some cultures, wearing an embellished or brightly colored abaya may be frowned upon, while in other cultures colorful designs may be more appreciated. By developing an understanding of how an abaya functions, as well as your market, you will likely have a better chance of selling your designs and establishing a profitable career.

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Discussion Comments


@BambooForest- I do wish there were more baggy clothes in fashion, although I think abayas would be a little much. They do have a cultural connection too, although who knows with fashion these days, anything goes it seems.


I know they are for modesty standards, but without talking politics, I find robes like abayas and other similar loose-fitting garments sort of appealing. I love fashion and like to get dressed up now and again, but I also wish that western fashion still had a place for really simple robes and cloaks and things of that nature. Not, we don't have religious reasons for it, but especially when I was a teenager, there were certainly days when all I wanted was to throw on something loose like that.

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    • A woman wearing an abaya and niqab.
      A woman wearing an abaya and niqab.