Aheda Zanetti has appeared in the media worldwide over the last year because of her innovative swimming costume The Burkini. Zanetti, who was born in Lebanon but grew up in Australia, saw a new need and a new product in the clash between Australian lifestyle and Muslim traditions: She invented The Burqini, a swimwear that is elegantly designed and covers the entire body except hands, feet and face. It is light, dries quickly and makes it easier for Muslim women to take part in beach life and swim publicly.
The Burqini has not only given Zanetti attention in the media but also customers in Europe, the Middle East and the USA. It turns out that she has solved a problem for many Muslim women around the world in a time when cultures meet and lifestyles change.
Why - one may ask - wasn’t a swimwear like this invented earlier, and in a country with a tradition of restrictions on women’s clothes? Apparently the innovator of such a product had to stand at the intersection of a culture where beach life is an integral part, and a culture with rules about appropriate clothing for women due to cultural and religious beliefs. Lebanese-Australian Zanetti did just that. The interesting thing from a business perspective, however, is that although the innovation is a result of the needs in this particular intersection, there is a demand for the product in many other parts of the world.
The Burqini case exemplifies two important points that are made in The Medici Effect: One is that we have a greater chance of finding new and valuable combinations at intersections and the other one is that “the movement of people” in the modern world is a strong force that creates new intersections.
The Burqini is made and sold by Aheda Zanetti’s label Ahiida.