More Singaporeans buying Malaysian designer wear this Hari Raya
A time-tested Ramadan tradition for many Singaporeans would be flocking to the bustling Geylang bazaar, Tanjong Katong Complex or Joo Chiat Complex to sift through racks of brightly-coloured, heavily-beaded or fancily-embroidered clothes in search of that perfect Hari Raya outfit.
From baju kurung modern and long dresses to kaftans and baju kebaya, there is something for everyone, no matter the budget.
But in recent years, some consumers are giving the longstanding meccas of mass-produced festive attire a miss, opting instead for e-commerce sites or smaller brick-and-mortar stores.
This group of shoppers, mostly millennials, often value exclusivity while not burning a big hole in their pockets.
Multi-label boutique En Pointe began operations in February this year at its 1,200 sq ft shophouse space at North Bridge Road to specifically target this market.
TNP PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR Co-founders of local multi-label boutique En Pointe, Ms Natasha Sulaiman (left) and Ms Dahlia Mohd.
Co-founded by two Singaporeans and good friends Ms Dahlia Mohd and Ms Natasha Sulaiman, the four-month old boutique stocks a curated assortment of ready-to-wear pieces from popular Malaysian labels like Mimpikita, Fiziwoo, Innai Red, Pikat KL and more.
"People are becoming more discerning this year. They want something new that's a bang for their buck so that's where mid-range designer brands like Anaabu hit that sweet spot," Ms Dahlia, 34, told The New Paper at the boutique's first Hari Raya showcase on June 11.
The duo launched their first pop-up store during the last Ramadan in May last year at Baghdad Street and received a heartening response.
"There was a growing exposure among Singaporeans to Malaysian brands and correspondingly, growing demand. However, it is a hassle to travel to Kuala Lumpur to make the purchase. While you can buy from online retailers, our customers' feedback was that they preferred to touch and feel the material or try the clothes on before purchasing them. We saw that gap in the market and knew we could fill it," Ms Natasha, 31, said.
Ms Dahlia said social media exposes consumers to the creations of established and budding Malaysian designers.
Ms Dahlia said: "People are diverting away from the mass market where styles don't change. Customers want something more unique and don't mind paying extra for good quality."
En Pointe also accepts custom orders and offers luxe collections at a steeper price.
Typically, the cost of an outfit varies to cater to all budgets, ranging from $130 for a Bellapizo piece to $1,250 for one from Innai Red.
"We see customers spending more and more. Previously, some would balk at spending more than $300 per set but now there is an increasing number who are more than happy to part with $400 or $500," said Ms Natasha. They also see shoppers from Brunei and neighbouring Malaysian states.
Other customers prefer taking their Hari Raya shopping online, where a multitude of brands and designs are easily available to them with a single click.
E-commerce fashion sites like Zalora and FashionValet both note an increase in customers shopping for modestwear on their sites in recent years but declined to reveal figures.
Besides offering a wide range of popular Malaysian designer brands on their sites, both Zalora and FashionValet also do tie-ups with these labels and offer exclusive Hari Raya collections to woo their customers.This year, Zalora, which was founded in 2012, collaborated with well-known Malaysian designer labels Rizalman, Fiziwoo and Bella Ammara to create special capsule collections for the one-stop shopping portal. FashionValet teamed up with Poplook for its Poplook Premium for FashionValet Raya collection.
Zalora is also known for its own in-house label Zalia which it started in 2014 after a surge in demand for modern Muslimwear.
Zalora's chief marketing officer Tito Costa told TNP that Zalia is among its best-selling brands due to its "assortment of styles and affordable price points".
This year, Zalora opened pre-orders for Zalia's festive collection ahead of Ramadan in anticipation of a surge.
Mr Costa said: "Responses for the festive collections, including Zalia, have been encouraging, with many styles quickly snapped up during the pre-order phase."
A key trademark of Zalia pieces is versatility, a trait that that ranks high among customers in the search for the perfect Raya outfit.
FashionValet country manager Muhammad Zameer Ali, 33, said: "This year, designers are steering towards modern design, aiming for versatile pieces that can be paired with clothing options on normal occasions as well. This is the trend of today and makes for great value. Usually, you purchase an outfit for Raya and have to chuck it aside."
TNP PHOTO: NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN FashionValet's country manager Muhammad Zameer Ali said that its first store here at 313@Somerset sees about 100 customers each day.
Malaysian-based FashionValet, started in 2010 by husband-wife pair Vivy Yusof and Fadzarudin Anuar, opened its first store in Singapore in May at 313@Somerset in time for the pre-Raya shopping craze.
Mr Muhammad Zameer its customers shell out anything between $80 and $250 at their store.
With even more options now available to consumers this Raya, shoppers can only stand to gain.
For Miss Sufi Nadhirah Shamsuri, 21, it only means more choices that enables her to express her individuality.
"My mum used to pick our my Hari Raya clothes for me. But I now have my own identity and my own sense of style. I like to do research on what I like, often following Malaysian celebrities and social media icons on Instagram to seek inspiration," said the recent graduate from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
"I like that now I can find some of the designs in Singapore and that the pieces are versatile enough for me to use even after Hari Raya."