Most of the designs are brought in from the Gulf countries

Clothing stores in Kochi are bringing new burqa styles to customers every month. The plain black design is no longer the only option available to Muslim women here. Burqas with stone-studded sleeves, overcoat designs, and even sari-model burqas are available in city stores.

But most of these designs are brought in from the Gulf countries. “There are hardly any burqa designers in Kochi,” said a sales staff at a store selling burqas in the city.

A bulk of the products at the store is bought from designers and manufacturers in Dubai. “We get designs from the Gulf every two weeks. We take our pick from these and bring them to the customer. Some items are delivered from Kozhikode,” she said. New designs thus reach the shelves in Kochi soon after they become popular in Dubai.

A popular style is the minimal black body with colourful pleated sleeves that have stone work. Office-going women and students prefer the “executive” overcoat design that comes in different colours and even blue denim.

Salwar and lacha style, double-layered, and fancy wedding burqas are other popular models. These designs cost upwards of Rs.1,200.

A sari-model burqa with pleats and a ‘pallu’ that arrived here a month ago is a huge hit, said a store manager. The burqa, incidentally, was sourced from Dubai.

The Gulf is the centre of burqa design, and styles from all over the world make their way to Dubai.

Iranian and Korean burqa designs have reached stores in Kochi through the Gulf route.

Burqas produced in Kozhikode also make their way into the city. Also popular are products by a manufacturer from Erattupetta.

These companies source almost all material for their products from the Gulf.

“The best material is available there and we import all the stuff we use, including our machines. We have a team of designers here working on new styles,” said a staff of the company at Erattupetta that manufactures burqas.

Local companies often import products and sell them under their own labels too, said a burqa store manager.