Women home in on sequined hijabs, abayas and the khimar
As my eyes get accustomed to the glitter radiating from the stacks of garments, I begin to suspect that this visit in not going to be a fleeting one.
A skirting glance to the right reveals oddly shaped bottles of Arabian scents and surmai, sparkling jewellery and the most enticing assortment of knick-knacks. To the left, running all the way from the entrance to the store's belly are racks displaying the latest in Abaya fashions, coats, scarves and handbags.
I look up to find a mezzanine floor of more racks and shelves. Just as the profusion is beginning to make my head whirl, a store attendant arrives….
Junaiz K., the owner of Islamic Boutique in Fraser Town has little time to spare. When not at the store, he is busy managing the affairs of the Empire Hotel — one of Bangalore's most successful biryani and kebab joints.
The Islamic Boutique is inspired by the Middle East. Each garment on display belongs to a foreign land, designed for the current fashion appetite. The fabrics, the designs, and the accessories are sourced from Dubai. The final fitting for garments is done locally as customers can also choose to buy fabric from the store and get it tailor-made to fit.
Mohammed Nisham runs through a list of items that the store sells. The ‘Abaya' (the burqa), Hijab (head scarf), Khimar (knee-length garment), Jilbab and Abaya are the items in stock. The store mostly attracts customers looking for special Abayas — glittery, opulent versions of the common burqa. These garments are usually worn for weddings, parties and festivals. Incidentally, the most expensive item in the store is a ‘wedding' Abaya which costs Rs. 24,000. It appears to be yards of black satin cloth covered with intricate bead and stone-work.
Not surprisingly, the store is a favourite with young girls.
However, it is not unusual to see doting fathers and husbands accompany them to the store.
As the glass door of the Islamic Boutique swings shut, I notice a bustle of activity inside — the shop attendant running with a measuring tape, two girls looking through yards of material and a father signing a bill at the counter. Some things never go out of fashion!