My first encounter with a djellaba was about 5 or 6 years ago at John Bartlett’s West Village store which no longer exists. That season he made these curious floor length djellabas in a linen/rayon fabric. It moved around the body like a cool breeze. The style was very much in the vein of Egyptian thobes or Dishdash. This fact would become clear a few years later when I made my first of 4 trips to Qatar where I lectured at the Fashion Design dept of a university there.
Doha the capital of Qatar is a multi-cultural city with people from all over the world there. Lots of westerners like cowboys are there to make deals with the richest of the UAE countries. There is so much development in every area that the workforce for most of those projects are men from South Asian countries and the phillipines. As most of the population is Arabic the most common dress for men are thobes or djellabas.
These long loose cotton shirts like enormous night shirts for men are the coolest way to dress in heat that averages about 90 degrees. I found many dealers in the Souk Waqif that sold them in a vast array of fabrics and in every size and length. At about $15.00 each I stocked up. n addition, I found a tailor there who made several for me in the Egyptian style which has more sweep than the Qatari thobe which is more narrow. I often wear one around the house on weekends and keep a stash in the closet for guests who enjoy their novelty. Just wear one once and you’ll see just how comfortable they are. The hard part is finding them here in NYC. In some of the neighborhoods that have communities of Middle Eastern people you can find them. Near me on Atlantic avenue there are a few shops that cater to Muslim men and women with a nice selection. It’s worth exploring!