Earlier this summer, coastal French towns courted controversy when their respective mayors decided to ban burkinis on beaches. The burkini consists of a long-sleeved top with long pants and a head covering, and was developed for women who follow Islamic modesty standards so that they could go swimming while still covered. The term “burkini” comes from a portmanteau of the words “burqa” and “bikini.”
Despite the ban, burkini creator Aheda Zanetti says that online sales of now-famous swimwear have risen over 200%+ recently. (Now, we don’t know what her sales had been previously, or what the year-over-year change has proved to be, so unfortunately we have incomplete information.)
Zanetti says that her customers are not homogeneously Muslim. She reports that about 40% of her customers are from other faith traditions, such as Judaism and Mormonism, that adhere to modest dress standards.
The burkini ban stems from a stringent French view on separating religion from the state. The French government has banned religious symbols from government buildings since 2004. A ban specifically on burqas was passed in 2011.
Right now, about 30 French towns have instituted the ban, though the town of Villeneuve-Loubet has since overturned it.