Zoie O'Brien, Express, February 13, 2017
The veil which is worn around the head and neck, will be launched first in the Oxford Street store before being rolled out to Birmingham’s Bullring, Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Leicester’s Highcross Shopping Centre.
Tops, kimono wraps, caps, hijab pins and headscarves for Muslims will feature in the new range to be launched in May.
London-based clothing brand Aab, which is behind the line, describes itself as selling ‘contemporary modest wear’ for women.
As the new lines launch in the UK – Debenhams will open stores in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Jeanette Whithear, of Debenhams, said: “Adding the high quality fashion range to our product mix enables us to offer collections that are highly relevant in both international markets and to our domestic customers.
“This is a step closer to creating a product offer that caters for broader customer needs.”
The move has been both embraced and heavily criticised.
Some defended the store for allowing women to “choose” their clothing – others were outranged and demanded a “boycott” of the store.
One Twitter user said: “[Debenhams] have no problem with representing females as chattels of men to be covered up from view.”
Another user wrote: “They already have their own private retail outlets for these items is there any need for a national chain to start socking them?”
Some said they would no longer use the store.
One man said: “Hi @Debenhams
“I shall now endeavor to forever avoid your stores, I’m sure I’m not alone in having this thought.”
Another said: “yes it’s Debenhams and I will never shop there again!”
While some users started the hashtag #BoycottDebenhams.
One wrote: “Boycott Debenhams it is one way we can fight back. We have to stop this creeping parisite.
Another Twitter user said: “Any woman who wears one of these voluntarily must be sick. Debenhams should be ashamed of itself. Boycott the store.
But some social media users called the step a leap forward and welcomed the change.
A woman wrote: “It’s clothes that is all. Each to their own.
“Some people wear bikinis some don’t I’m sure they will sell well in cities with a high Muslim population.
“If you want to ban Islam then you must ban religion full stop.”
Another user said: “This is massive. Well done to Debenhams.”
Scott Nelson said: “Debenhams is selling hijabs and bigots are losing their minds.”
Nazmin Alim, founder and creative director at Aab, said: “We started Aab almost a decade ago as a label that redefined modest fashion and one that caters for everyday modern wardrobe staples.
“The partnership with Debenhams opens up some very exciting opportunities for us.
“We look forward to Aab’s next phase of growth alongside Debenhams in offering contemporary modest fashion globally.”
John Lewis became one of the first major stores to stock the headscarf in 2014.
The scarves were sold as part of the school uniform range.
In 2016 Marks & Spencer took an even bolder step by stocking burkinis for the first time, retailing at £49.50.
The department store made the move despite France, banning the swimwear in public.
Several EU nations have also attempted to ban the burqa, including France, Belgium and Bulgaria.