Pioneer Malaysian Islamic Lifestyle Boutique since 1992

Simple, Practical designs for all....

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Munawwarah in STAR 6 September 2009

Stylish and in line

Forget shapeless tents and drab colours. Muslim women today want clothes that are practical and fashionable.
IF you’re not interested in buying off the rack from established fashion brands and mixing and matching pieces to create your own look, check out a Muslim clothing boutique for something different.

Muslim women can look good, says Tuan Hasnah Tuan Yusoff.One of the more popular ones in the Klang Valley is Sri Munawwarah, set up by Tuan Hasnah Tuan Yusoff in 1992 as a home-based business to cater to haj and umrah pilgrims.

“There was definitely a void in the Malaysian market in the 90s for trendy Muslim clothes with better quality fabrics and designs,” says Tuan Hasnah. “We showed Malaysians that simple, practical and elegant designs were not alien to Islamic dressing and there were opportunities to look and feel good.”

Consumer feedback and personal experience also shape her focus – to make fashionable clothes that make life simpler and easier for the wearer.

She says Munawwarah is keen to remain a fashion house that specialises in classic clothes, not trends. And she is proud of the fact that many customers have stayed with them for 17 years.

Tuan Hasnah also serves as a “consultant” for prominent personalities who decide to don the hijab and the boutique provides the clothing. Sri Munawwarah is housed in four shoplots in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, KL.

So who forms their customer base?

“Anyone from the 70-year-old matriarch looking for simple and comfortable attire to the 35-year-old corporate manager looking for power suits or leisure wear, or mothers of 10-year-olds looking for clothes that will boost their daughters’ confidence.

“We also have men looking for stylish and comfy alternatives to their shirt and tie and baju Melayu. And we have the pilgrims bound for the haj and umrah from all walks of life.”

At the Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) in 2007, Munawwarah showcased smart casual, colourful outfits embellished and styled for fun under the tagline, “Be Creative, Be Inspired, Be Yourself”. Last year, its “Pristine Pilgrimage” featured a designer’s impression of haj and umrah outfits.

Rusnita Noor in one of the designs available under her lable, Arya.
And what do they think of comments that Islamic fashion nowadays does not conform to religious interpretations?

“At Munawwarah, we believe that the choice of colours, adornments and even the length of the tudung depends fully on the individual’s understanding and practice of Islam. “When we did Pristine Pilgrimage during the IFF, we were criticised by many for having so much ‘bling’ on our haj outfits. For the show, the bling was appropriate. For the actual haj, you can still use the same designs but leave out the bling. It’s your personal choice.”

Lawyer Rusnita Noor enjoys dressing up and following fashion trends. After deciding to don the hijab two years ago, she had difficulty finding the right clothes. To solve that, she came up with her own label, Arya.

“I started my business in June 2007 after coming across fashionable women’s wear, whilst on holiday in a neighbouring country, which conforms to the Muslim women’s dress code.

“After I started wearing the hijab I could not find any nice, reasonably priced ready-to-wear clothes, for leisure, formal functions or the office. Everything in the market was either in drab colours, shapeless, or both. I believe that just because a Muslim woman chooses to cover her aurat, it doesn’t mean that she has to walk around in ugly, shapeless mass-market clothes.”

Arya has T-shirts, palazzo pants, skirts silk blouses, jubahs and jackets for work.

“Our look is very much timeless classic, and our customers are quite discerning,” Rusnita says.

On whether the current style of Islamic clothing is appropriate, she adds that it’s up to the individual.

“I think it’s a question of personal style and belief. Everyone practises the religion in a different way but moderation is the key, as well as knowing what to wear at the appropriate time and place. A little adornment, a sprinkle of beading, or a splash of sequins can make you look great.”

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