What’s in this Raya?

The baju kurung and baju Melayu will be the focus of the Hari Raya collections, many being endorsed by popular local celebrities

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by ARIF KARTONO

SOMETIMES when you try too hard to be different, the chances of you ending up being a fashion victim are pretty high.

Take the baju kurung and baju Melayu for example. From just a simple and elegant concept of two-piece ensembles worn by the Malays for over centuries, the traditional silhouette has been distorted many times over by “over-enthusiastic” Malaysian fashionistas, especially during the Hari Raya season.

As it is, you might have already come across pictures of male models in tight baju Melayu tops that seem more fit to be worn for a session at the gym, or that male kurta that had been “re-imagined” rather ridiculously in materials that do not spell elegance.

Some three weeks ago, celebrity Datuk Aznil Nawawi introduced his own line of Raya wear and was immediately criticised by his detractors who could not really appreciate his interpretation of the baju Melayu.

His take on the garment — he claimed the design to be inspired by the late Sudirman Arshad’s earlier representation of the baju Melayu — has been deemed as a little too “loud” by the more conservative quarters.

Aznil did not flinch though, as he joins many other names in the entertainment industry who are already in the fashion business by lending heir names to certain brands.

If you go to bigger establishments like Jakel, you’d realise that many of the Hari Raya collections are endorsed by popular celebrities. Among the celebrities who are part of Jakel’s marketing strategy are Scha Alyahya, Hanis Zalikha and Ayda Jebat, Aaron Aziz, Awal Ashaari and Nabil Ahmad.

Apparently, each collection is distinguishable by certain characters that are incorporated into the design. If you go to Jakel’s website to have a peak at the Ayda Jebat Collection, you’d realise that pastel colours are mainly used, while beads are sewed in a detailed manner to accentuate the elegance in the collection. Still, what is going to make heads turn this year?

According to freelance stylist Puteri Sheba Nellisa Raja Affandi, pastel would be this year’s flavour, unlike last year’s trend which seemed to be more ornate with the use of lace and rhinestones.

“Go for baju kurung modern. It would look very elegant with pastel colours,” she said, adding that plain attire is expected to surpass patterns this year.

“Often times we’ve gone for certain looks like the peplum, and playing with a lot of rhinestones and laces. But right now, it’s more towards a very plain and more elegant look,” Puteri Sheba Nellisa said.

She said the right plain, yet elegant, look could be inspired by what was worn by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah during her akad nikah (solemnisation of marriage) in 2017.

“I remembered people were really talking about how simple (was the attire) she wore, but it’s how she brings herself wea-ring it. It’s like the baju (attire) doesn’t really have to speak more for the person wearing it. That’s a great example,” Puteri Sheba Nellisa said.

According to online store Segak. shop, which sells modest female apparel on Instagram, its best-selling item is the Hannah Kurung, with chunky beads spotted in a pastel blue colour.

The designs are also popular because they are inspired by local celebrities, particularly television stars like Izara Aishah and Fasha Sandha.

Popular online retailer Zalora recently introduced its Raya collection called Zaloraya2019, while Fashion Valet is promoting its FV Raya 2019.

Both brands offer modern baju kurung in pastel colours, designed by famous local designers including Datuk Rizalman Ibrahim, Datuk Jovian Mandagie and newcomer Fiziwoo.

In a report by The Malaysian Reserve earlier this month, online shopping transactions are expected to increase during the month of Ramadhan due to the Hari Raya celebrations.

“Transactions and purchases will definitely shoot up as many people will start online shopping for Raya. This is something expected and growth is encouraging,” said Chan Kok Long, iPay88 (M) Sdn Bhd co-founder and ED.

Chan expects online and mobile transaction sales to increase during this Raya season.