The head of Tehran’s Apparel Manufacturers and Retailers Union Abolghasem Shirazi has said that the sale of the open-front manto (women’s coat) has been banned. According to Mr. Shirazi, consumers can find a list of 200 stores which are authorized to sell garments made according to Islamic guidelines on the organization’s website. “These manteaus are fully closed in the front. They have been created by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s apparel design team,” he noted.
There are 6,000 garment manufacturers and 11,000 clothing retailers in Tehran. Half of the shops sell manteaus exclusively. They also sell the “national chador” (full body veil).
Shirazi explained: “A total of 30 teams of three inspectors visit manufacturers and distribution centers around Tehran every three months to ensure that they adhere to strict Islamic dress codes.”
“Manufacturers must follow Islamic guidelines for designing garments. Unfortunately, the open-front manteaus are popular with some consumers, but they’ll be taken off the shelves,” Shirazi added. “The open front manteaus are worn over a full-length base layer which drops down to the knees. However, the traditional ones are worn over a pair of trousers.”
“More than 99 percent of manteaus have been produced domestically in the past two years, because we’ve made great progress in the area of design, especially since the Fajr Festival,” Shirazi said. “Our modern Islamic designs have been showcased at various festivals. They are also on permanent display at the National Islamic Design and Fashion Institution.”
Iranian women remain defiant in the face of relentless efforts by the authorities to impose greater restrictions on them. Nowadays, well-known personalities and ordinary Iranians do not observe stringent Islamic dress codes. Traditional women’s clothing stores have experienced a dramatic drop in sales. Meanwhile, underground boutiques in Tehran which offer bolder designs and progressive styles have become increasingly popular with girls and women.
“It is impossible to investigate these unlicensed shops, because most of them operate from homes. We’ll notify the housing authorities as soon as people let us know the location of these illegal establishments,” Shirazi said.
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]