TEHRAN - Deputies in Iran's conservative-run parliament have begun preparing designs for what will be a new national costume aimed at stemming the encroachment of Western fashion, a top MP said Thursday.
Emad Afroogh, head of the Majlis cultural commission, said MPs have been "meeting with designers to come up with an interesting variety of affordable, nationally inspired designs that will also respond to modern needs."
He said the commission hoped to eventually incorporate the designs into a new bill offering guidelines on dress that "redefine Iranian identity while respecting religious and cultural red lines."
"People will not be forced to wear these clothes," he asserted, but nevertheless said the new designs "will certainly be appealing."
The effort to stipulate what to wear comes several months after the Islamic republic's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned of a "cultural invasion" and the dangers of imitating foreigners.
Police have also been cracking down on skimpy dressers, warning women not to dress like "models".
In Iran, women are obliged to cover their heads and body shape, while men are also expected to show off as little skin as necessary. But some women, especially those in more wealthy urban environments, regularly test the limits by sporting shorter, tighter and brighter coats, three-quarter length trousers and flimsy headscarves.