Confessions of a Burkha Maker

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“The burkha has undergone a change. Educated women have helped us turn it into a fashion accessory”

Stiching burkhas is not easy, as you cannot measure the women who stand before you. It is a very delicate operation. Though the stitching is done by men, the women in the household help by taking measurements.

More women wear the burkha today than ever before. Many young girls are opting to wear it.

The burkha has undergone a change. Educated women have helped us turn it into a fashionable garment. It is not cheap, though. There is a craze for imported material that does not crush easily, which we source from Arab countries. The lace, showy buttons and stones also come from there.

In India, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and some other places manufacture beautiful black fabrics that can be used for burkhas. But we turn to the Middle East because educated Muslim girls and women don’t care for the synthetic fabric available here.

Since Arab countries have more burkha wearers, their tailors have innovated and turned this garment into an object of desire. In India, elderly Muslim tailors don’t like to do such fancy stitching, but their sons have realised that they must move with the times.

The most preferred designs are those with crystals and stones. Sequins in black are also a hit. The women in the family help us with the beadwork, etcetera.
My burkhas are priced at over Rs 1,000 apiece. Parents pay for fashionable burkhas as it is the easiest way to persuade young girls to wear them.

We are careful about the people we employ. The shop owner is always around so that clients feel comfortable. We ask them their budget and advise them accordingly. There are readymade burkhas too, but most women prefer to get them stitched.

There are no unreasonable demands made on us, as our customers know they cannot be too daring. Personally, I do not see burkhas of the future changing much, as this is as daring as our women will get.