Retroreflective Burqa

The Retroreflective Burqa offers a new, alternative design choice to the traditional Afghan burqa garment – a look that is safe, functional, and fashionable.

Retroreflective Burqa [source: Core77]

Design & Development

Design requirements were based on interviews and observational studies with Afghan women who wear burqas on a daily basis.  Requests included: cooler, more breathable fabric, larger eye and nose/mouth mesh for easier breathing, and a fashionable look that was also functionable.

Here are some of my conceptual ideas and sketches for the design:

By re-thinking certain elements of the garment, I hope to empower Afghan women through carefully selected design choices and to enable these women to remain true to themselves and to their religious and cultural practices. To empower a person is to provide her the opportunity to make choices and decisions regarding her life. In the case of the Afghan burqa, there is currently only one design available to women — the iconic, monolithic burqa. The Retroreflective Burqa offers an innovative, alternative design choice to today’s burqa, thereby giving Afghan women the right to make a choice, express their preferences, and exercise decision-making about a garment that they wear every day.

Total production time was 4 months.  Here is a production video documenting the fabrication of the garment.



Press & Demos

June 16, 2014-2015: Winner of IDEO.org’s “Women’s Safety Challenge” [contest site]

March 31, 2014: IDEO.org “Women’s Safety Challenge” [Retroreflective Garments submission]

May 15, 2011: Core77 Design Magazine [blog and gallery]

May 16, 2011: Inhabitat “Best Green Designs of Spring 2011” [blog site]

May 15-17, 2011: ITP Spring Show 2011 [event site]