Hijab Collecting in Malaysia

24 February 2016

We meet two women with 100 hijabs each and learn about what makes a good headscarf.

Fashion is home to collectors of all stripes, with clotheshorse being the designated term for people who maintain stuffed closets full of stylish pieces. But there are specialised fashion fans who focus on shoes, bags, accessories, and the like. As a country with a predominantly Muslim population, Malaysia is home to one subset of the clotheshorse - the hijab collector. 

Muslimah fashion is a giant on its own, with 5 million women in Malaysia wearing the hijab, according to a report in the Malay Mail Online. Designer scarf labels and brands have sprouted in recent years, drawing in stylish, modest women who consider the it an accessory like any other. We spoke to two women to learn about their collections.

 

Anis Adella Nasaruddin, 27

For IT engineer Anis , what began as a personal promise to shop in moderation soon spiralled into a collection of 54 scarves from luxury hijab label dUCk

"I like the word collector, at least it doesn't sound like I'm a hoarder!" the 27-year old says, laughing.

dUCk scarves was launched in May 2014 by Vivy Yusof, the blogger, hijab icon and entrepreneur behind fashion e-commerce site FashionValet. dUCk took off in such a spectacular way that by the time Anis learned about the brand, it had sold out online. So that August, she made a trip down south to Kuala Lumpur to make her first purchase at a bazaar in a Bangsar shopping mall.

"At first, I promised myself to collect only one piece per collection. But then they launched such cute colours and such vibrant designs in limited editions … I ended up buying more and more, and now I'm obsessed with it," she squeals over Skype.

Anis shares that it was the quality and detailing on dUCk scarves that caught her eye. dUCk's sumptuous scarves have a signature picot hem and on every corner, a hand-stitched silver charm in the shape of a duck. Then there are the boxes the scarves are packaged in. Like Hermes boxes, but purple, they're sturdy, exude luxury and hold a special appeal for Anis.

"You know how you like receiving presents from other people?" she begins. "Receiving dUCk scarves in the mail is like receiving presents from yourself to yourself. Because it is packed complete with the box, wrapping paper, the ribbon, a style card ... that's what makes it so special." 

And while some friends and family have balked at the idea of collecting scarves that cost RM120 to RM220 a piece, Anis opines that it's not much different from collecting shoes, which are also worn every day.

Apart from dUCk, Anis also collects from brands like Ariani, Tudung Ruffle, and actress Nora Danish's Owl line, rounding out her collection to around a 100 scarves.

Ever organised, she tracks her collection of scarves on a spreadsheet, which she updates with each new release so she doesn't buy repeat colours. Anis estimates that she has a quarter of all total releases by dUCk.

"I tend to forget what colours I have in my closet. So I have to check it, I have to make something that is easier for myself to compare. If I have something similar, then probably I will save up for something else, something new, something limited edition," she says. Of all six fabric options, her favourites are from the satin silk and georgette ranges.

 

Che Nur Amirah bt Che Lai, 25

Mira Lai loves hijabs. She loves them so much she launched her own line, Mahveen by Mira Lai, last year, sold through her Instagram shop. While the brand has shuttered since, Mira is steadfast in her hijab collecting habit, and has amassed around a 100 pieces so far.

In her hometown of Terengganu, Mira began her education in hijabs with the square bawal scarves at age 15. She later picked up long, shawl type scarves as she sharpened her styling skills. For both shapes, she's not fussed about what brands she buys, instead considering design, comfort and quality first and foremost.

"I even wear ones from regular shops, whether or not it's branded," she says. "As long as the design is beautiful, the quality is great, I will buy it. Comfort is a must."

Most of Mira's scarves are by the brand Ariani, and she has two from from actress and host Neelofa's line, Naelofar. "Pricey," she says, but worth it. The rest of her collection is a mixed bag, handpicked from Masjid Jamek, bazaars and festivals like Mood Republik and Vandeur Festival. In the mix are bawal scarves by Adijuma and shawls by Neng Geulis.

On what makes a good shawl, Mira says that it must first cover the aurat as mentioned in the Al-Quran, following Islamic rules. The shawl's design matters as well, and Mira is partial to plain, single-colour designs. Lastly, she says, the fabric should be comfortable, drape well and be easy to wear. She admits to buying many similar colours which pair with her everyday outfits.

As for hijabi style icons, Mira names Neelofa and Ariani ambassador Bella Dally, whose hijab styles are colourful and creative. Would she ever stop buying scarves? "Well, my mum has never stopped. Every time she comes to KL, she always goes to Ariani. I know exactly where she wants to go, what activity. It's always Ariani, to buy tudung," she says.

 

By KY Wong

Photos of Anis Adella Nasaruddin courtesy of the interviewee

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