There is nothing quite like a ban to boost sales.
Companies say that sales of the full-body swimsuit popularly known as a burkini — a portmanteau of “burqa” and “bikini” — have spiked following a ban on the item at French beaches. Earlier this week a photo of a Muslim woman at a French beach being forced by police to remove parts of her full-body burkini went viral, sparking widespread outrage.
“When there is this much press coverage and publicity, it’ll inevitably transpire into more sales,” said Ismail Sacranie, co-founder of Modestly Active, a U.K.-based company that makes the garment.
Modestly Active was first thrust into the limelight when Nigella Lawson wore one of its burkinis at a Sydney beach in 2011. Sales skyrocketed by 300 to 400 percent in the immediate aftermath. Sacranie said it was too early to give specifics, but the company was getting demands from newer markets, including Poland and Russia, as a result of the French ban.
Aheda Zanetti, a Lebanese-Australian designer credited with being the inventor of the swimsuit, also said that the controversy has been good for business. She told The New York Times that online sales had risen by about 200 percent in recent days.
Elsewhere too, conversations surrounding the garment have been on the rise.
According to Brandwatch, there have been over 381,000 mentions of burkini on Twitter since Aug. 1, with the most mentions (126,000) on Aug. 24 following the viral picture. Another peak was on Aug. 12 with over 19,500 mentions, the day the news of French ban broke.
The Google Trends dashboard also shows that the term “burkini” is at its peak popularity right now, with more people searching for it than ever before.
The burkini is gaining traction with women across the world — even among those those who simply wish to protect themselves from the sun. There is a burgeoning Islamic fashion market — projected to be worth $327 million by 2020 according to Thomson Reuters “State of the Islamic Economy” report.
A suite of brands including British retailer Marks & Spencer and high-end labels such as New York’s DKNY and Italy’s Dolce & Gabbana have recently started offering full-body swimsuits and other Islamic haute couture items to women.
Marks & Spencer, started selling burkinis on its website for the first time this year. “They’re already sold out,” spokeswoman Emily Dimmock said.