The so-called burkini was never meant to be a political statement, but the recent controversy over its use in France has apparently given a massive boost to online sales for the swimsuit. The burkini’s creator told the New York Times that sales have gone up 200 percent for the full-body swimsuit.
The burkini, which leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, was initially designed as merely another option for women to wear to the beach or during sports, its designer, Aheda Zanetti, told the Times. Yet, the burkini has become a controversial symbol in France, where fear of terrorism from Islamic extremists has grown since the attacks in Nice and other European cities. In reaction, 15 towns in France have banned the burkini with the full support of the prime minister, who called it a form of unpatriotic clothing that is based “on the enslavement of women.”
Making any sort of political statement, or even limiting the burkini to Muslim women, though, was never the intent, Zanetti told the Times. “I wanted to introduce a full range of clothing to suit a Muslim woman — or any woman — that wanted a bit of modesty and wanted to participate in any sporting activities,” Zanetti told the paper. “It was also my aim for them not to be judged for who they are, or where they’re from, and who people think they’re representing.”
So far, the biggest demand for the burkini has come from Australia, Europe, and Canada. Skin-cancer patients have also started buying the burkini in order to prevent further sun damage, Zanetti said.