HomeVol. 25, No. 5

High-Valued Abaya Designs for the Middle Eastern Market
: Focus on the UAE's Dubai market
  • Hyun-Joo Kim : Assistant Professor, Industry Academic Cooperation Foundation, Dept. of Fashion Merchandise design, College of Art, Dankook University (harriettekim@gmail.com)
  • Hye-yeon Kim : Professor, College of Arts and Design, Ewha Womans university
  • Sul-A Han : Director, R&D Center, Harriette Kim, Kaiserin Design Group
  • Jin-Soo Jeon : Director, Stereotype
  • Hae-Seung Kang : Professor, Dept. of Fashion Merchandise design, College of Art, Dankook University

The Muslim markets are emerging. Though they are geographically isolated, the Muslim's religious homogeneity has formed a huge market. Economic power based on abundant resources, a high population growth rate, and robust consumption propensities are the main advantages of the Muslim market. Surprisingly, Muslims are one of the top consumer groups of luxurious cars, homes and fashion items despite their ascetical, conservative image.

Until now, the entry of foreign companies into the Muslim market has been difficult due to the market's unique qualities; however, the opportunity of preemption in the market is worth attempting.

Thus, the purpose of the following study is to understand the differentiated culture and the industrial backgrounds of the Muslim nations and to perform a design research based on the traditional Muslim abaya.

As a result, Dubai (the business hub of the Middle East and the capital city of the UAE) was labeled as a niche market, and six various designs of exportable Couture Abaya (high-quality custom-made abaya) were developed for Muslim women aged 28 to 40.

After setting Dubai as the starting point, about 1.6 billion markets around the world, including the UAE markets, were targeted as contributing to the increase in the national competitiveness caused by the realization of high-value products.

Middle east, export, High value, Abaya, UAE, Dubai market, Functional Material, Couture Abaya.
pISSN: 1226-8046
eISSN: 2288-2987
Publisher: Korean Society of Design Science
Received: 03 Apr, 2012
Revised: 24 May, 2012
Accepted: 24 May, 2012
Printed: Nov, 2012
Volume: 25 Issue: 5
Page: 101 ~ 111
PDF Download:

Citation: Kim, H., Kim, H., Han, S., Jeon, J., & Kang, H. (2012). High-Valued Abaya Designs for the Middle Eastern Market -Focus on the UAE's Dubai market. Archives of Design Research, 25(5), 101-111.
1. Introduction

[Image 1] Model's cut of the abaya designs

The demands for premium fashion continues to grow in the Middle East markets due to its abundant amount of resources and high standards of living. Muslims take up more than 70% of the portion of consuming Haute Couture outfits, proving their enormous purchasing powers. Among the many oil-producing countries in the Middle East, the UAE(United Arab Emirates: thus UAE) is rapidly growing as a developing country and is gradually progressing as the largest market in the region.

In UAE, women are required to wear traditional clothing, abaya, due to their strong Islamic beliefs. These Muslim women value their religious traditions and customs while showing a great interest in fashion based on new trends. Under the flow, the fashion industries in Korea are starting to look for new business opportunities in the yet-developed countries of the Middle East.

Until now, there have been a lot of industries in Korea that export abaya or abaya fabrics, but they are starting to lose their competitiveness due to the price competition in the UAE's abaya markets. On the other hand, designers in Korea, who could design and export high-value abaya, are currently in a nonexistent state. Thus, in order to target the market with competitiveness in exports, the differentiated culture and the industrial backgrounds of the region were analyzed, and design research and developments of exclusive abaya were progressed based on the needs of the UAE buyers and the research on the local abaya markets.

2. Traditional Muslim Abaya of the UAE

A large number of the population in the UAE consists of foreigners, and only the national women are required to wear traditional clothes, while it is optional for men. Conventional Muslim women wear veils as a symbol of religious identity and chaste.1)

There are no fixed time for when the locals start to wear the traditional clothing; however, men usually begin to wear traditional clothes at the age 10, while women start to wear them at the beginning of their menstruation.

According to the Islamic doctrines, the Muslim women are required to cover their entire head with a ‘Hijab(Image 2)’, or a scarf called‘Shiela’, exposing only their faces. In some cases, depending on the family customs, the women must cover their entire faces with a black veil or a black mask referred to as a‘Niqab(Image 3)’, but most young women in the current times prefer revealing their faces.

The Muslim women cover their entire body from head to toe with a black covering called ‘Abaya(Image 4)’. They are mostly composed of crepe, georgette, or other lightweight fabrics like chiffon, and either in a rectangular form that creates natural fold lines from the head to the shoulder or in a large caftan form with long, dropped sleeves.

[Graph 1]
Traditional women's clothes of the UAE

Hijab (Image 2)
Niqab (Image 3)
Abaya (Image 4)

Casual clothes such as skirts and pants are worn under or inside the abaya. These days, it is a common trend in young women to wear jeans under the abaya, while conservative women prefer wearing long skirts or dresses.

3. Analysis of the UAE's Industrial Conditions
3-1. Characteristics of the UAE Markets

Located in the Middle East, the UAE borders on the Arabian Sea, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Omen. Its capital city is Abu Dhabi, and consists of three major cities―Dubai, Sharja, and Al-Ain. 99% of the land area is desert with a humid subtropical climate, and because of the small-scaled markets with a total population of approximately 5 million (estimate of year 2010, Source: IMF), the region is not adequately equipped for the development of manufacturing businesses.

Only about 20% of the population are nationals, and the other 80% of the population are all foreigners. The religion of the UAE is Islam, with 80% Sunni and 20% Shia.

Nearly all resources except oil and energy must be relied on imports, since there are not enough manufacturing bases in the country, and the domestic markets tend to be small because of the limited number of the Muslim population. The domestic sales network of the UAE could be generalized as importer-wholesaler-retailer, reexporter-wholesaler-retailer, and importer. In other words, the distribution structure of the domestic markets is often limited to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but the whole distribution network that establishes and manages the sales market of Iran, Africa, and the CIS region contribute in building larger markets. Dubai is responsible for 90% of the UAE's total trade, and is known as the free trade zone(Zebel Ali Free Zone) and the 'Hong Kong of the Middle East' due to re-exporting of about 70% of the trading supplies to Iran, CIS, Libya, Pakistan, Eastern Africa, Russia, and other 161 countries.

Therefore, it is most beneficial for industries to target Dubai when entering into the Middle Eastern markets.

[Graph 2]
Re-export distribution structure of the UAE

Source : Cho Hwan-Ik(2010.5), Targeting points of the Middle Eastern retail markets, KOTRA

In the UAE, 20% of the nationals and 80% of foreigners share commercial supremacy. Buyers own commercial supremacy of various fields according to their nationalities— fibers and hardwares are dominant in India, car parts and machinery are dominant in Iran, electronics such as satellite receivers are common in Pakistan, while metals are a trend in Syria, Lebanon, and the Arabs. Many of these variations are traded by local exclusive agents who distribute and sell them to the wholesalers and the retailers.

[Graph 3]
Left) Population composition of the UAE, Right) Consumption rates of the UAE

Source : OC&C Research

The income level of the UAE nationals tend to be high, whereas the Westerners and Arabs are mid-income earners, and the Asians are low-income earners.

[Graph 4]
Level of consumption according to the level of incomes

Source : Cho Hwan-Ik(2010.5), Targeting points of the Middle Eastern retail markets, KOTRA

Income level Population composition Consumption status
High-income earners Arab nationals Individualistic consumption
High-priced product-oriented
Characteristics of an exhibitionist
Sensitive to trends
Mid-income earners Westerners & Arab nationals Individualistic consumption
High consumption level in leisure and travels
Asian (white collar) Family-centered consumption
High-priced products
High consumption level in education
Low-income earners Asian (blue collar) Restrain consumption
High consumption level in foods
Small-scaled consumption

The numbers of national high-leveled income earners seize most of the premium luxury markets in the UAE. Premium items such as luxurious cars, apparels, bags, shoes, jewelries, etc. are consumed by 40 million population in the GCC and 10 million wealthy population in the UAE. These premium luxury markets show more than 12% higher growth rates. Demands for premium items continue to exist among high-classes; however, after the financial crisis, the prices of the items became a priority in the markets.

Since the mid-1990's, the retail industries started to develop as the distribution centers with more modernized facilities entered the market. Modern UAE shopping centers are focused around the three Emirates―Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Modern retail stores currently in business mainly target consumers and tourists with comfortable, cultural leisure spaces.

The markets are completely open, with no government regulations for trading, and exemptions of corporate and personal income taxes. While average consumers consume inexpensive products, Asian, who take up 20% of the population, create a new level of consumers based on wealth.

The UAE of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon are included in the "SERI's 30 Selected Rising Nations" presented by the Samsung Economic Research Institute in the year 2010. Since the UAE is rated as the 5th most premium market from the rising nations(Key Emerging Market : KEM), premium fashion products must be studied and developed for exporting purposes.

According to Ogilvy, a Middle Eastern marketing specialist company, young Muslims have a great pride in their religion, so a study and research on their cultural backgrounds and traditions are necessary. Not only does this apply to the young ages, but the consumer activity in the Middle Eastern regions are based on the Muslim's ethics and customs; therefore, a marketing strategy based on the understanding of the Muslim's traditional backgrounds are needed. Also, considering the fact that the word-of-mouth is more influential than other cultures, it is important to target the young ages for the enhancing of the brand image and the spreading of the product reviews.

3-2. The trade status of the UAE and Korea

Of all the countries in the Middle Eastern region, the UAE is the most similar to Korea, in terms of economy and culture.

Most of Korea's imports from the UAE are mineral resources such as crude oil, naphtha, LPG, etc., and the scale of the imports are becoming larger due to the rise in oil prices, the strengthening of won-dollars, and the demanding of oils. In the year 2009, the decline in oil prices and global economic downturn has reduced the oil incomes by 56%, but the demands for oils and the prices of the resources are continuing to increase ever since Korea's economical recovery in the year 2010.

Since the year 2008, the UAE has placed itself as the number one export market in the Middle East and has shown an increase in the exports for the past 20 years except in the year 2003 and 2009, where the global economic crisis reduced the demands as a whole.

Between the 80's and the 90's, traditional export items such as polyester fabric, passenger cars, and color TV occupied nearly 72% of all the UAE imports from South Korea. But since the mid-90's, these traditional export items have reduced in numbers and were replaced by premium technology-intensive industrial goods such as satellite receivers, mobile phones, cars, etc. It is becoming more difficult for smaller enterprises to enter into the Middle Eastern markets due to the appearance of rival countries such as China, Italy, Spain, and India; therefore, measures for such issues are urgently needed. Chinese-made products, in particular, are gradually threatening our market with its improved quality and diversified variety.

In April 2007, President Lee Myung-Bak, who was the presidential candidate of the Grand National Party(the present Saenuri Party) at the time, visited the UAE, and in the same year, Sheikh Mohammed, the Prime Minister of the UAE, visited Korea. In December 2009, President Lee Myung-Bak revisited the UAE and signed a contract of nuclear power plant construction project worth 200 billion dollars. At the time of the visit, the President of Korea held a summit conference with the UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan regarding the strengthening of the two country's economic relations in connection with nuclear power plants. Prince Sheikh Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, who is at the helm of the nuclear power plants, visited Korea in June 2006 and again in May 2010, and signed the oil development agreement worth 1 billion barrel(976 billion dollars based on April 2011) during President Lee Myung-Bak's visit to the UAE in March 2011. With this agreement, the economic relationship between the two countries has strengthened once more since the nuclear power plant construction project contract signed at the end of the year 2009.

Sheikh Mohammad's fourth daugther, Sheikha Maitha Al Maktoum's interest in the Korean culture, especially Korean film and actors, and Tae Kwon Do, has shifted the UAE population's attention towards Korea.

Also, due to the recent K-Pop craze in the UAE, the interest in Korea's culture and traditions, as well as the country's image, is starting to rise. This could gradually increase the positive awareness of products "Made in Korea".

As the UAE's domestic markets are recovering from the economic recession of the year 2009, positive images about the Korean culture are gradually making its way up, and the efforts to combine Korea's technology and design to change the UAE's export goods into high-valued products are urgently required.

4. Analysis of Abaya markets in Dubai
4-1. Conditions of Dubai's Abaya markets

Due to the climate of the Middle East, the materials of the abaya tend to be more important than the design itself. Muslim women are required to wear long-sleeved costumes despite the tropical climate; therefore, non-transparent breathable materials are preferred as the material of the clothes. Thus, the quality requirements for the abaya buyers in Dubai are materials that are light-weight, soft, flowing, creped(textured), deeply-colored(Jet black; the denser, the better), and silky smooth.

The‘Abaya’is mostly made of polyester and crape(a mix of polyester and cotton), and sometimes silk and chiffon.

The fabrics for abaya are primarily dependent on imports for which France, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Korea are the major suppliers of fabrics, and the most preferred brands of the fabrics include French CRAPE MAROOCAN, Japanese DENTAI, MITSUBISHI SILK, etc.

Recently, while the consumption of environmentally-friendly products is becoming popular, the detection of toxic materials such as asbestos in abaya fabrics has increased the demands of high-class Muslims for custom-made premium-quality designer abaya. Therefore, since specially-scented functional fabrics or fancy jacquards are gaining more and more popularity, collecting high-functional abaya fabrics that are sensitive to the region's climatic conditions is expected to be an important variable for trading.

Abaya in the past were created in a caftan form to cover the women's bodies, but recently, many forms and varieties of abaya are existent(Image 5). Most young women these days prefer skinny abaya that is tight around the waist, whereas the elderly women prefer loose style that is somewhat similar to the men's style.

[Image 5] Types of Abaya

From the Left: Pull-over, Front Open, Front open round neck, Double breast, Front open double breast, Collar

Recently, as traditional costumes such as the hijab and the abaya are becoming a symbol of beauty and fashion rather than a sign of religious commitment, the demands for diverse abaya designs are increasing in the markets. In particular, the opening of the '(digital Islam)' era through the development of the internet and the broadcasting system is influencing the Muslim women's fashion. The dynamic appearances of women shown in the Al-Jazeera channel and the resort style of high-class women are spreading the "new dynamic feminity" of the Muslim women, and bringing radical changes in women's fashion. Also, as the outdoor activity levels and the social status of Muslim women are rising, various fashion-related shopping information are spread through the word of mouth.

Bright colors of white and purple are used as abaya fabrics, beads and jewels are embroidered as details, and different kinds of knots and patterns, designs, and shapes are included in a modern abaya. Even the linings of children's abaya are printed in Disney characters, proving the transformation of "the new fashion code of the 21st century" Also, many women replace Chanel or Christian Dior scarves with hijab to express their social status and wealth.2)

Thus, the Muslim women are gradually escaping from the traditional Islamic dresses and showing flexibility in fashion with various veil colors and styles.

4-2. Abaya trade status between the UAE and Korea

Abaya textile markets for the Middle Eastern traditional costumes are about $300 million in size, occupying 30~40% of Korea's total markets, in competing with Japan's 15~20%. However, due to the lack of technology, most products are made with polyester that do not give a perception of a "high-value" product, and is losing its price competitiveness compared to countries like China.

The most favored abaya fabric is the tri-acetetate fabric, in which is not supplied in Korea due to the monopolization by Japan, and Italian high-quality premium fabrics and French laces and trimmings are preferred as the compositions of the abaya.

Recently, as the propensity to consume eco-friendly products is growing stronger worldwide, health-conscious products are becoming more popular amongst the Middle Eastern high-classes; however, high-technological fabrics to meet such demands are still lacking in numbers. Thus, the textile industries in Korea are starting to aim for the second Renaissance of textile exporting through functional product developments in small quantities but in various types. Most of the textile development institutes in Korea are already making efforts on improving the quality of the black fabric and on making differentiated development techniques. As a result, the removal of metallic lusters in the PE Filement textile, and weaving and dyeing of threads to develop Jet-black were completed in the year 2010 for the development of high-technologically-invented Formal Black textiles, also known as the 'development of diffused-reflecting fabrics using multiple-layered spireme', in which is currently applied to all of the exporting items. The improvement of the bathochromic effect due to the increase of diffuse-reflecting fabrics have increased the demands and the first half of the year's sales.

Like this, there are many domestic companies that develop and export abaya fabrics, but there are barely any companies that design and export abaya, except for the Koreans who have worked in the UAE local factories.

In June 2009, under the sponsorship of the global marketing specialist, Nexfair, Korean designer brands Becjie Wedding and Doii Paris visited Dubai to meet with the members of the Ladies Club and local buyers on developing Korean fashion and accessories company in the Middle Eastern markets; however, the proposed abaya designs did not result in exporting.

But as the number of the Korean fashion designers participating in international events increased, designers who are exporting Middle Eastern traditional costumes are continuing to grow in numbers. Since much time and money is consumed on studying the Islamic women and developing products based on the studies, the creation of new export markets will be possible if the exporting of fabrics and under-abaya dresses are done with an understanding of the UAE Islamic women's cultures and traditions.

4-3. The conditions of Dubai's premium abaya markets

According to AC Nielson's luxury market consumption survey cited by Gulfnews, the UAE stands fifth place as the world's top consumers of luxury goods, with 31% of the UAE nationals purchasing premium items. In the case of other Middle Eastern countries, only two to three kinds of luxury products are consumed, whereas a wide range of branded products are preferred in the UAE.

The abaya that is sold in the Middle Eastern regions could be categorized into ready-made and custom-made, but the proportion of customized high-quality abaya are higher. Not only are the UAE markets large-scaled, but nearby countries contain large re-exporting markets, and most of the fabric wholesalers are gathered in Dubai, while retail stores are gathered in the Deira region and the Naif Road.

Premium abaya stores are usually located with other luxury shopping malls such as Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale. Most of the ready-made abaya sold in larger shopping malls are consumed by local consumers.

Looking at the abaya designs presented in fashion events such as the Dubai Fashion Week, the designs of abaya, hijab, and under-abaya dress (the dress worn under the abaya) are becoming more colorful and dynamic.

Thus, the latest abaya designs with the famous designers' styles are starting to gain more and more attention. The famous abaya designer, Hana Al-Madani, who receives orders of abaya worth 1,500 riyals ~ 8,000 riyals, ,quotes, "Abaya is now a fashion item that shows the characteristics and the style of a woman". Luxury brands that specialize in abaya include ARABESQUE, DAN COUTURE, DAS COLLECTION, HANAYEN, HOMA Q. KANZI, LA REINE, MALAAL, MAUZAN, NABRMAN, ROUGE COUTURE, SLOUCHY' Z, SURBHI JAGGI, USH DESIGN, etc., and the designs of each brand are becoming more diversified.

[Graph 5]
Abaya Designer Brands

Product Image
Product Image
Product Image
Product Image

Considered one of the world's leading luxury markets, the UAE abaya markets are becoming the major interest of all the global luxury brands. Not only are the designer brands such as Prada, Fendi, and Gucci starting to shift their attention towards the Muslim traditional women's clothes, but renowned fashion designer Hussein Chalayan and the creative director of Undercover, designer Jun Takahasi, have gained the public's attention with their presentation of modernized abaya and burqa designs at the George V Hotel. Luxury brand Louis Vuitton also launched a limited edition of high-quality abaya worth 30 million USD.

Especially In the high-priced abaya market, the origin of the fabrics play an important role in changing the variables of the prices of the fabrics, and most of the local consumers prefer art fabric details and handmade elements that could be found only in coutures. They also like to reveal their social status through the exposing of the brand's logo and wearing big, premium accessories such as hair pins on a hijab.

5. Design development direction
5-1. Target market and target

This project is to set the business hub of the Middle Eastern region and the UAE's capital city, Dubai, as the global niche market, and develop premium Couture Abaya for the VVIP women of ages 28~40.

5-2. Development directions

The culture of the Islamic nations were studied and understood in order to differentiate the products that cater to the consumers' tastes. Thus, research based on the studies of the Islamic culture and women were completed primarily, and the study of the Middle East, the UAE, and Dubai, the local market information and trends based on the market reports by KOTRA, and the interviews and surveys of local buyers were completed as a secondary research.

All design and production were carried out in Korea, and the sewing and embroidering, art fabric, etc. were all hand-made using couture sewing techniques.

5-3. Prices

Currently in the year 2012, since Dubai is still recovering economically, one of the abaya was produced as a limited edition, and five as premium abaya. The premium abaya was set as the FOB(Free On Board) price3), in which allowed the products to be sold at a local price of 7,000 to 8,000 drums (about 2.5 million won).

5-4. Materials

Since female consumers of premium abaya are sensitive about the product's material, the main fabrics were imported from Italy and Japan(MITHBISHI RAYON), laces and other accessories from France, and Swarovkski crystals from Australia. The Country of Origin Effect was applied into the marketing system through the use of the world's top materials.

Thus, the aim is to change Korea's image of selling low-priced abaya through the use of high-quality materials and accessories, and to overcome the negative origin effects.

6. Design development
6-1. Color analysis and pattern developments

All the abaya presented as a result for the study was developed with black color. The color scheme was based on the high frequency of color from the 230 stores presented at the Dubai Fashion Week introduced in the last three years, and 300 stores of 15 different places.

The patterns were mainly focused on modernizing the traditional Islamic motifs. The plant and animal patterns of the mosques were modernized and applied mostly on the abaya's hemline, neckline, etc.

When working with the modernization of arabesque patterns, any other religious patterns such as stars and crosses were avoided through a preliminary review of local buyers.

Since idolatry is strictly prohibited in the Islamic culture, patternizing the images of other living creatures are forbidden; however, camels, falcons, and the Sun that are considered sacred in the Islamic culture are included as the accessories of the abaya.

6-2. Fabric imports

The compositions, size, and weight of the fabrics for the 7 types of the abaya designs are as follows.

S90800, SB-7 TA81% PE19% 68“/yd 135g/yd
S90860, SB-7 TA81% PE19% 58“/yd 135g/yd
MC29011B, SB-7 TA89% PE11% 68“/yd 128g/yd
MC29012B-2, SB-7 TA89% PE11% 68“/yd 124g/yd
MC29011A, SB-7 TA89% PE11% 50“/yd 124g/yd
MC29111A, SB-7 TA88% PE12% 48“/yd 108g/yd
MC29111B, SB-7 TA88% PE12% 48“/yd 128g/yd

6-3. The establishment of size and style

The products in the following research are developed as exporting items, and the patterns of the abaya are created in loose fit free sizes for a convenience in manufacturing.

Each prototype, which contains the nature of product scarcity, is developed with a length alternation in below and in the sleeve to prevent the product from mass production.

6-4. Buyer reviews and consultation

Each prototype were sent to seven of the local buyers sequentially, and the materials, the quality of sewing, design, color, details, creativity, and marketability were rated with five stars being the highest. According to the surveys of the buyers, the parts that need to be modified and supplemented were fixed and revised for the final photo shoot.

7. Design results

All works presented as a result in the following research are 100% handmade with couture sewing techniques.

[Product 1]

•Concept: From all the 6 abaya designs, this high-priced product is especially produced without any adoptions. This product will be exhibited as an IP product at the Dubai department store in which it will be sold.

Recently, as mother-of-pearl accessories are gaining popularity amongst the Dubai upper-classes, the embroidery details were applied onto the abaya with a 3-dimensional nacre effect.

The couture is very colorful, but at the same time, contains tone-on-tone colors to express dignified elegance, in which took almost a month to complete due to the couture's unique sewing techniques and the addition of details.


ART NO. Thread Weight Width
S90800,SB-7 Acetate 135g/yd 68“y

•Material(Details):3-dimensional handmade embroideries (ORIGIN FRANCE), embroidery thread: Gitterman (MADE IN GERMANY)

•Launch date : September, 2012

•Place of sales : Dubai Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale

•Buyer ratings :

Product Front Detail
Photo shoot

[Product 2]

•Concept : Bold color combinations and the curved lines that extend from the armhole to the hipline distributes the view of the couture, creating a thinner effect of the silhouette than it actually is.

The hem of the arm and the center line is designed with cuts to reveal the glamorous magenta color of the silk lining and to emphasize the embroidered patterns.

•Material(Main fabric) : TRI-ACETATE (TA81%,PE19%), ORIGIN JAPAN(MITHBISHI)

ART NO. Thread Weight Width
S90800,SB-7 Acetate 135g/yd 68“y

(Coloration fabric): Silk 100% (wrinkle-free, washable), Made in Italy

•Material(details) : beaded with Swarovski crystal embroidery (Swarovski: Made in Australia)

•Launch date : September 2012

•Place of sales : Dubai Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale

•Buyer ratings :

Product Front Detail
Photo shoot

[Product 3]

•Concept : A 3-dimensional draping was added onto the closure of the abaya to modify the dull silhouette of the abaya and to add rhythmical beauty to the lines.

On the closure of the abaya, decoration of arabesque patterns of the Golden Gate were embroidered with a mix of golden thread and blue color.

A 3-dimensional Swarovski dragonfly brooch was produced as the point of the design. The wings, the body, and the tail of the dragonfly were joined separately for the natural curving of the joints.

•Material(fabric) : TRI-ACETATE (TA81%,PE19%), ORIGIN JAPAN(MITHBISHI)

ART NO. Thread Weight Width
S90800,SB-7 Acetate 135g/yd 68“y

(Coloration fabric):Silk 100% (Wrinkle free, washable), Made in Italy

•Material(detail) : beaded with Swarovski crystal embroidery (Swarovski: Made in Australia)

•Launch date : September 2012

•Place of sales : Dubai Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale

•Buyer ratings :

Product Front Detail
Photo shoot

[Product 4]

•Concept : A design with a slim, illusional‘X' effect for the Middle Eastern women with abdominal obesity. Embroidered tapes inspired by arabesque plant gates were formed into an X shape and sealed onto the abaya through heating.

A falcon made of Swarovski hot-pieces were created and attached on the back of the abaya.

•Material(fabric) : TRI-ACETATE (TA81%,PE19%), ORIGIN JAPAN(MITHBISHI)

ART NO. Thread Weight Width
MC29012B-2, SB-7 Acetate 124g/yd 68“y

(Coloration fabric): Silk 100% (wrinkle-free, washable), Made in Italy

•Material(detail) : beaded with Swarovski pearl (Swarovski: Made in Australia) Hair Pin: 3-dimensional embroidery (ORIGIN FRANCE)

•Launch date : September 2012

•Place of sales : Dubai Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale

•Buyer ratings :

Product Front Detail
Photo shoot

[Product 5]

•Concept : An Islamic traditional abaya design with a mystical Oriental taste through the cuts and the harmony of curved and straight lines inspired by the collar closures of the Korean 'Hanbok'.

Arabesque patterns that can be seen in both the Islamic cultures and the Korean cultures were embroidered onto the abaya with golden threads, and were heat-adhered onto the shoulder line, the hemline, and the closure line.

•Material(fabric) : TRI-ACETATE (TA81%,PE19%), ORIGIN JAPAN(MITHBISHI)

ART NO. Thread Weight Width
MC29011A, SB-7 Acetate 124g/yd 68“y

(Coloration fabric):Silk 100% (Wrinkle free, washable), Made in Italy

•Material(detail) : 14K gold embroidery(Origin France)

•Launch date : September 2012

•Place of sales : Dubai Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale

•Buyer ratings :

Product Front Detail
Photo shoot

[Product 6]

•Concept : As the social activities and benefits of young Muslim women are increasing, the abaya and the under-abaya dress were created as a two-piece for the feminity and the practically of the design elements. Tapes of ribbon details were attached vertically on the center front of the abaya to create a taller effect.

The under-abaya dress was created with the placement of burned-out arabesque astronomical patterns on an ultralight velvet with a cooling effect.

•Material(fabric) : TRI-ACETATE (TA81%,PE19%), ORIGIN JAPAN(MITHBISHI)

ART NO. Thread Weight Width
MC29111A, SB-7 Acetate 108g/yd 48“y

(Coloration fabric): • Silk 100% (Wrinkle free, washable), Made in Italy

• Velvet burn-out (ultralight, washable), Made in France

•Material(detail) : beaded with Swarovski crystal embroidery (Swarovski: Made in Australia)

•Launch date : September 2012

•Place of sales : Dubai Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale

•Buyer ratings :

Product Front Detail
Photo shoot

8. Conclusion

Today's fashion industries all over the world are focusing on enhancing its competitiveness through the creation of high-value products, and the fashion designers worldwide are shifting towards creating high-valued fashion products and contributing to enhancing the competitiveness of national design, thus uplifting the images of the fashion houses worldwide and bringing a huge ripple effect through the settlement of the enhanced competitiveness due to the leading international exchanges.

The traditional costumes of the Middle East could be seen as a blue ocean and a niche market of the fashion field, and if the design research and development can connect to the exporting of the product, then the increase in the market shares and the stability of the revenue due to the re-exporting could be expected.

These business expansion might extend into the research activities for the development of related fabric and further grow along with the fabric industries through the development of premium abaya fabric through the technological skills and the know-hows of Korea; in addition, the geometrical increase of the ripple effect and the creation of job opportunities in the related fields such as threading, weaving, dyeing, manufacturing, designing, sewing, and marketing could be expected if the export superiority is occupied through the development of the abaya fabric and design.


1) Head covering known as hijab, full-body-length covering known as chador (mostly in Iran), full-body-length robe with a net opening in the eye known as burka (mostly in Afghanistan), face-covering cloth known as niqab, headscarf known as khimar, etc.

2) Kim Hyun-joo(2012), Muslim Women's Fashion in Connection with the Social and Cultural Background of the Middle East -Centering on Veil Hijab and Abaya, Journal of Korean Society of Design Science

3) FOB(Free On Board) means that the seller is obligated to deliver the goods on board a vessel specified by the buyer, meaning that the buyer is responsible for all costs and risks of loss of or damage to the goods from the point.


*The following paper is based on the research funded by the 2011 Ministry of Knowledge Economy fashion stream fund(grant no.10039576)

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