To be honest, we at shoppersBase did not think that it was her best look. I’m talking about Nigella Lawson, emerging from the sea on Sydney’s Bondi beach, back in April 2011, in a full length burkini. Many thought (somewhat unkindly) that the only reason the TV chef was wearing the all in one swimming costume, was because she had put on a few pounds and was, unsurprisingly, reluctant for the world’s press to snap her in a revealing bikini.
But since Ms Lawson has donned the burkini, bathers all over the globe, who have a more modest temperament, have been buying up the full length swimwear, in order to spare their bathing blushes. And whilst a few years ago the burkini was perhaps tailored towards Muslim and other religious factions, in order to cover up their modesty, it seems that one appearance from Ms Lawson in a burkini is enough to prompt non-Muslims and other UK bathers, who don’t want the world to see their wobbly bits, to wear one.
Two UK companies – Modestini and Modestly Active, are capitalising on our stiff, upper lip when it comes to flaunting it on the beach, and they say that sales have soared since Ms Lawson wore one a couple of years ago. And both companies state that between 15 and 20 per cent of their clients are non-Muslim.
The burkinis were typically imported over from Turkey or Morocco, but thanks to the Nigella Effect, they are now available from within the UK.
Ismail Sacranie, sales and marketing director at Modestly Active, said: ‘The first few years were a hard struggle but, over the past two years sales have grown between 300 and 400 per cent.’
The original burkini was the brainchild of Kausar Sacranie, who is the chief executive of Modestly Active and designed Nigella’s burkini. She had personal experience whilst growing up as a child, and says that years of family holidays spent wearing clingy leggings and T-shirts in the water prompted her to design an alternative.
She said: ‘I wanted something different but I didn’t want to look like a Teletubby on the beach. I wanted something I was comfortable in and that made me look good. Later, I went on holiday to Dubai and I was swamped with people asking me where I got it.’
She says Nigella’s endorsement of the burkini on Bondi in April 2011 was a turning point for her firm.
‘After Nigella wore my swimsuit, people became more comfortable with the idea. And a lot of people who are not Muslims wanted something without a hood.’
Umran Ashman, director of Modestkini, said: ‘People come to us for a variety of reasons.
‘Some are allergic to the sun or are worried about cancer, others are overweight or have lost a lot of weight so their skin is sagging.’
The burkinis are now available in a range of sizes, colours and styles.