AKA: burkini

How to say it: bur-kee-nee

Traditional Features: 


  • covers the whole body except the face, hands and feet
  • fitted silhouette but not skin-tight
  • consists of a tunic and full length pants
  • made from swimsuit material

21st Century Burqinis

The burqini is definitely a specialty item in swimwear, and as such is not as visible on the market as other styles. Having said that, more and more brands are realising the potential of the burqini and slowly more options are becoming available for the women who wear them.

Ahiida Izraq

Ahiida, Izraq


…of the style: The burqini was developed in Australia by designer Aheda Zanetti the early 2000s as a means for Muslim women to comfortably enjoy the Australian way of life, whilst adhering to the Islamic values surrounding modesty and dress.

Inspired by watching her niece play netball in a traditional Hijab, Zanetti began to look into the availability of sports clothing that was suitable for Muslim women. Unable to find anything that combined comfort, flexibility and freedom of movement, with modesty, she designed her own garment (under the brand Ahiida), and the burqini was born.

The burqini is essentially a two-piece swimsuit – it consists of a semi-fitted tunic that has a hood to cover the hair, and finishes at the mid-thigh, and a pair of full length swim pants that are worn under the tunic. The whole garment is made from the same fabrics as other swimwear styles, making it comfortable to swim in without the extra weight of non-swimwear fabrics, or the worry of the fabrics going see-through when wet, and allows women to swim comfortably and safely whilst remaining suitably covered.

The introduction of the burqini was applauded by muslim women around the world, but received very mixed reviews in non-muslim countries. Australia embraced the style and in 2006 female muslim lifeguards donned specially made burqinis which allowed them to perform their jobs and keep to their faith at the same time. However, other countries banned the full-body style claiming that it was, among other things, unhygienic. These claims have since been disputed, but I was unable to find out whether the 2009 bans in France and Italy had been lifted.

Despite the controversy surrounding the burqini, there is no doubting the liberation it has provided to Muslim women who wish to be able to comfortably enjoy an outside lifestyle without compromising their religious beliefs. Since its creation, many other designers have jumped on the burqini bandwagon, and there is quite a large selection of styles and colours available for those who wear them.

…of the name: The name is a combination of the words “burqa” and “bikini”.

For more info on Burqinis try Burqini.com, Wikipedia, HuffPost or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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