The Burqini™/Burkini™ is a modest swimsuit designed by fashion designer Aheda Zanetti to promote Muslim women’s participation in public sports. She found that at the time, there did not exist a swimsuit that adhered to Islamic guidelines, and many Muslim women were using unsatisfactory alternatives.

The Burqini™/Burkini™ is a two-piece swimsuit that provides full coverage in accordance with Islamic guidelines. The Burqini™/Burkini™ consists of a long-sleeved, hooded tunic reaching mid-thigh that is attached to straight-legged pants through a loop-and-string mechanism that ensures the tunic does not rise in the water. A hood is attached to the tunic to conceal the wearer’s hair. The Burqini™/Burkini™ comes in three styles: modest fit, slim fit, and sportz fit. Modest fit provides the loosest fit of the garment, while the sportz fit is designed to optimize athletic performance.

The name “Burqini™/Burkini™” is a combination of bikini, a two-piece swimsuit, and burqa/burka, a style of full-coverage veil worn by some Muslim women. While the trademark of the word “Burqini™/Burkini™” is owned by Zanetti, it has become a generic term to refer to this style of modest swimwear that adheres to guidelines of Islamic dress practices. Since the inception of the Burqini™/Burkini™, many other brands have created their own version of the modest swimsuit.

The creation of the Burqini™/Burkini™ has encouraged the involvement of visibly Muslim women in sports and has also become the center of political controversy surrounding topics of multiculturalism and immigration.


Appropriation and Influence

Three French Police officers stand around a woman seated on the beach as she lifts her top to remove it. The woman's face is hidden by a mosaic effect.

Burkini Bans 2015

Following a deadly truck attack in Nice, the Burqini™/Burkini™ became banned in some French municipalities. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed his support for municipalities enacting such bans on French beaches. These “burkini bans” used Orientalist and Islamophobic rhetoric that caused much division between the French Muslim and non-Muslim populations, opening a larger conversation about Islam, belonging, and women’s right to choose.

Image: Three French police officers surround a woman on a beach as she is forced by them to undress. View Larger

a blank graphic (placeholder)

Citizen Alliance of the Greater Grenoble Area Protest 2019

The Citizen Alliance of the Greater Grenoble Area, inspired by Rosa Parks, organized a protest against the French bans on modest swimwear in public pools. Pool staff at the Jean Bron swimming pool called the police and each of the protestors were fined 35 euros. The bans in France led to further stigmatization of Muslim women.

Image: Alliance Citoyenne de l’Agglomération Grenobloise Burkini Protest, 2019. View Larger

a blank graphic (placeholder)

Nike, February 1st, 2020

Nike, a non-Muslim-owned brand, released its Victory Swim Collection featuring a collection of modest swimwear.

Image: Nike Victory Full-Coverage Swimsuit, 2020. Various sizes. View Larger.

Akou, Heather Marie. “A Brief History of the Burqini.” In Dress 39, no. 1 (2013): 25–35.

Fitzpatrick, Laura. “The New Swimsuit Issue.” In TIME Magazine, July 2007.,9171,1645145,00.html

Khamis, Susie. “Braving the BurqiniTM: Re-Branding the Australian Beach.” In Cultural Geographies 17, no. 3 (July 2010): 379–90. doi:10.1177/1474474010368608.

Tarlo, Emma. “Jewish Wigs and Islamic Sportswear: Negotiating Regulations of Religion and Fashion.” In Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty 7, no. 1 (June 1, 2016): 79–84.

Zanetti, Aheda. “Faith, fashion, fusion: Ahiida®.” By Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Faith, Fashion, Fusion. Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (May 3, 2012).