Iconic British retail chain Marks and Spencer has launched a range of “burkini” swimsuits, causing a backlash from thousands of customers and anti-Islamic groups.
The full-length swimwear is aimed primarily at the high-street retailer’s Muslim customers, as it adheres to strict Islamic modesty standards. But the design has also proved popular with sun-safe bathers, including Nigella Lawson who famously donned a burkini while swimming at Bondi Beach back in 2011.
While many have celebrated the move, other customers and commentators haven’t been so supportive.
When The Daily Mail recently hailed the product as “the ultimate proof that Britain is truly multicultural”, hundreds of readers hit back, threatening to boycott Marks and Spencer until the range is removed from the shelves.
The burkini has been a staple of Australian swimming spots for years, after Lebanese-Australian designer Aheda Zanetti’s range of modest sports and swimwear boomed in the mid 2000s.
Aheda is credited with coming up with the term ‘burkini/burqini’, which was chosen as the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year back in 2011.