by Shalini Ravindran, Yvonne T. Nathan, and Kathleen Michael
IGNORING the siren’s call of bustling open-air bazaars or the bright lights of mega malls, some savvy shoppers are venturing to alternative shopping venues when it comes to their Hari Raya garb.
Competing with the likes of bazaars at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (TAR) or neighbouring Jalan Masjid India in Kuala Lumpur, places such as Medan Mara and Kenanga Wholesale City (KWC) in Kuala Lumpur as well as the SACC Mall and PKNS Complex in Shah Alam still attract a fair share of customers.
For those who want customised outfits, Medan Mara is the place to go, while those looking for good bundle deals prefer KWC in Pudu.
Wanting to avoid the hassle of travel and crowds at the more popular spots were some of the reasons why places away from the city centre have become more sought after.
Medan Mara, Kuala Lumpur
Filled with designers and tailors, customers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to designing their own outfits.
Saz Fashion proprietor Norlita Abd Aziz said she took in some 1,000 orders just for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“With so many orders, I had to refuse orders after February.
“My team and I are determined to complete the work before the festive weekend,” she said.
Norlita, who has been operating her tailoring shop at Medan Mara for 20 years, added that although business had slowed down compared to several years ago, many shops there could still drum up business.
She added that where previously a family would order five or six pieces each, now they have scaled down to only three pieces.
“But, we have sustained throughout the years.
“This is our most lucrative period and we have regular customers who place orders with us every year,” she said.
It is not only Kuala Lumpur folk who are privy to this hidden gem though, as the place sees customers from all over the country.
J&N Collection co-owner Fatimah Nor said many of her customers make the annual trip to Kuala Lumpur from as far as Sabah and Sarawak to place their orders.
“Most of them used to live in the city, but moved away over the years.
“But they still come back here to sew their Raya outfits,” she said, adding that she even had customers from Johor and Terengganu.
Having been there for 25 years, Fatimah said she enjoyed catching up with her customers each year.
Her loyal customer Norbaite Saharuddin, 42, still gets her family’s festive clothes stitched there.
“I have been coming to this shop for more than 15 years, even before I was married. Now, I have four daughters.
“We prefer to have our clothes customised as each of my children want different styles.
“And, the prices here are reasonable,” she said.
Kenanga Wholesale City (KWC), Kuala Lumpur
Adorable set pieces of coordinated outfits for the family is a trend revived by the characteristics of bulk shopping, namely the larger the quantity purchased, the lower the price.
Fariza Ripin, 34, and her husband Herman Husin, 35, and their daughters went on an outing to KWC in search of Raya outfits as a change of scenery.
“We used to frequent Jalan TAR for Raya outfits.
“This is our first time visiting KWC and it seems like there is a lot more variety,” Fariza said.
There was also the ease of finding a parking spot and the comfort of shopping in a covered, air-conditioned area instead of braving the heat or rain.
“I usually try to find things my daughters and I can wear together so I am hoping to find something good to match with them,” she said excitedly as they hurried off to spot a good deal.
Echoing Fariza’s favoured trend of pairing up her outfits with her daughters, Shahidul Pro Enterprise, which deals with bulk purchases, has also seen a surge of families buying identical family ensembles.
“We get larger families coming in with their relatives to look for clothes of the same colour or styles to wear together,” said employee Sofia F.
One of several stores that specialise in designs for baju melayu at KWC is Flora Anggun Collection, opened by owner Fahmi Arshad six years ago.
“We usually get at least 30 to 40 customers looking for Raya clothes during Ramadan.
“So we start preparing new styles to be manufactured at a factory in Indonesia at least four months before Raya,” he said.
SACC Mall and PKNS Complex, Shah Alam
Nurul Aini Morad was one of those who used to make her way to Jalan Masjid India every year to buy her Raya outfits.
However, for the past four years, she has been shopping at the SACC Mall in Shah Alam.
“I work and live nearby and since there are stores here, I do not need to travel to Kuala Lumpur,” she said.
When selecting her outfit for the year, Nurul Aini said she would check the current trends online through Facebook and Instagram before going to a mall.
Businesswoman Suzana Ismail said going all the way to Kuala Lumpur to buy clothes for Hari Raya was a hassle.
“I used to shop in Jalan Masjid India but there are just too many people. It is also stuffy and too hot. I would rather shop in an air-conditioned mall.
“Moreover, the malls are more lively with entertainment, especially during the weekend,” she said.
Suzana also has friends who run online stores selling clothes for Hari Raya.
“They have opened their physical store at PKNS Complex so I am here to see what they have and support their business,” she said.
Muhammad Asyraf Kamasanairuddin was spotted selecting baju melayu at the PKNS Complex.
The student, from Temerloh, Pahang, who was doing some last- minute Raya shopping with his university friends and said it was his second time shopping away from home without his family.
“I have gone to the city centre in the past but since I study nearby, it is more convenient for me to do my shopping here,” he said, adding that he would head home for Raya.
Jedan Collection shop owner Liyana Nawar, who set up a kiosk at SACC Mall, said business has been going well for the past few years during Ramadan.
“We open our store from 10am to 10pm and during the last few days of Ramadan, we open up to 11pm as there will still be people coming in late to do their shopping,” she said.
Selling traditional attire for women at the kiosk, Liyana said the prices range from RM100 to RM299, adding that most of her customers would return every year for their Raya clothing.
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