AMIRA ABAYAS: From one mannequin to one big success
Amira Abayas on Westgate is having a bit of a moment.
After its opening on 5th January, the modest fashion store - complete with peaceful faith room - has been selling abayas, hijabs and ‘burkinis’ at a rate of knots.
Owner Zubair Khan’s thorough research into modest outfits has taken him all over the world, from Morocco, Dubai and Saudi Arabia; to Turkey and Tunisia.
He said: “I realised there was a gap in the market. In the Middle East, abayas are mostly all black - but over here in the UK, people want bright colours so we’ve gone for more vibrant designs. We still sell darker colours, however, as they are always popular.
“Many women have had enough of unwanted attention. They’re returning to a more modest style of clothing.”
Zubair is one of nine siblings.
“Six of which were sisters and I was the youngest of the family,” he explained. “They’re all married now, so I’ve got around 20 nieces.”
It is clear that Zubair knows what makes women tick and his friendly, charming and relaxed personality adds to the overall charm of the shop.
Zubair used to own a small shop on Morley Street in BD7 where he sold fragrances and books.
“I had a very small section with one mannequin in the window. Women would stop and ask to try on the abaya but I had no changing rooms or carpark. It was then I decided I needed to open a bigger shop.”
The beautiful garments - which fit both women and girls from the age of seven – are designed by dressmakers in Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia.
Most of the clothes are made from nida material from Korea which is of the highest quality. Amira Abayas also make items in stretchy lycra and iridescent chiffon.
Zubair said: “We also do exclusive designs that will never be made again.”
Rails are packed to capacity with fabulous and eye-catching hooded abayas; plainer day-to-day robes for wearing around the house and flashier fashions with patterning, intricate embroidery and stretch jersey sleeves for special events.
In the window display are burkinis; one-piece swimsuits that cover up nearly all of your skin when swimming and help to block the sun’s skin damaging rays.
“We stock burkinis by the same designer as the House of Fraser, but they sell it at a much higher price,” said Zubair.
A selection of blouses and shirts by exclusive designers are a sartorial must for women who want to find a balance between Middle East modesty and practicality, especially when at work.
Amira Abayas doesn’t just offer clothing though. There is a glorious fragrance section; back-lit and dazzling with glinting bottles of top-of-the-range oil-based ouds from Qatar and Dubai – and irresistible Western style colognes.
“No-one can touch the standard of fragrances we have here in Bradford,” said Zubair, “some scents crossover and combine Western and Middle Eastern smells. They’re ridiculously nice.”
A bukhoor section will fulfil anyone who wants to inject a little incense into their lives whilst personalised hampers, stuffed with fragrances and even a Qu’ran, will make the ideal birthday or wedding gift. For eager bookworms there are also a range of books stocked in-store.
A health trend has exploded which has seen people rejecting conventional medicines for more traditional remedies. Amira Abayas has been following suit, selling rose water - which is good for diabetes – and bottles of apple cider vinegar and black seed oil. Sticky honey and dates can also be purchased on the same counter.
Customers have travelled from Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale to shop the fashions here. Once Amira Abayas explode online as well, that reach will no doubt stretch all over the world.