British department store Debenhams is to become the first major UK retailer to sell the traditional Muslim veil known as the hijab. It will also sell them in some of its shops in the Middle East.
From May Debenhams, which was founded in 1778, will stock hijabs in some of its larger UK units including at its flagship London store in Oxford Street. Outlets in Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester will follow suit. Hijabs will also be sold at 14 international Debenhams stores in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
A hijab is worn by some Muslim women in the presence of adult males to whom they are not related in order to cover their head, shoulders and chest. This complies with Islamic teaching on modesty. Unlike those who dress in a burqa or niqab, the hijab wearer’s face remains visible.
The decision to sell the items in the UK reflects its expanding Muslim population. It is estimated that in 1981 there were about 500,000 Muslims living in Britain. Currently, there are believed to be about 2.8 million Muslims out of a total official UK population of 65.1 million.
Debenhams international trading director Jeanette Whithear said: “We are delighted to introduce the Aab range [of hijabs] to our international and select UK stores. 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 and is a step closer to creating a product offer that caters for broader customer needs.”