Yesterday, Kakak asked me to accompany her to Zawara Coffee Shop at Bangi Sentral for a dosage of caffeine. She is a coffee lover and to substitute her crave towards Starbucks (she now shuns that despite her immense crave; due to Palestinian cause), she now resorts to alternative beverages. Anyway, what I wanted to share here was of course something that caught my interest – and it has something to do with Communication, of course.
Unfortunately my cheap handphone could not capture the chique deco of Zawara Coffee Shop. Those were beautiful lantern-like deco. The ambiance emanates sense of marriage between sophistication and Islamic essence.
I have been a nominal observer of the Hijab / Veil / Shawl revolution since my colleagues in school are mostly females. And of course on top of that, my sister is one of the Hijab aficionados, as well (she even badgered me to collect her Radiusite’s shawl at Rawang). I was a bit oblivious and didn’t understand why the Malaysian Moslem females are really obsess with all the Hijab / Veil / Shawl various patterns – for me, they look the same and a bit of money-wasting because come on, it is ridiculous to buy a Hijab costing like more than RM500, right? In addition, I had that personal instinct of “ridiculing” (only in my heart) those Hijab / Veil / Shawl entrepreneurs for “manipulating” the gullible and naive Malaysian Moslem females; – Boy, I was wrong. Yesterday’s visit was an instantaneous eye-opener.
Bangi Sentral – the Champs-Élysées for the Malaysian Moslem women? Certainly!
I never thought there would be a business park complex full of shops catering for Malaysian Moslem women’s apparels! I always knew that Bandar Baru Bangi is a residential for professional/ white-collared Malaysian Moslems after Shah Alam BUT stepping my first foot-steps at Bangi Sentral was like a waking-up call for me. It is like the Champs-Élysées for the Malaysian Moslem women! I was not familiar with all the lesser-known labels (I only knew Fareeda, Ariani, Aidijuma, Radiusite) but now I know that there are TONNES of labels out there such as Zawara, SugarScarf and many more. With all these outlets mushrooming the business park complex; you can’t help but to use an interpretive dimension linking it to the “power-beyond-the-outlets”. This means that the Malaysian Moslem women are becoming more business-minded and are vigorous to make an impact to the Malaysian economy! Don’t be surprise if the portions in economic cake will be gradually dominated by these ‘underdogs’!
Perhaps some people may perceive the Hijab / Veil / Shawl industry as SMEs but for me, I think it has the potential to grow and with the purchasing power held by the women, it is expected that this industry will increase year by year! As much as sport tourism being tagged as one of Malaysian potential economical boosters (I learned this from my Theory & Practice of Corporate Communication assignment; which I only nailed B+!! Argh, bummer! Hahaha! REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/the-powerful-liaisons-of-facebook-the-world-of-sports-tourism-kom-5317-boxxtomoi-the-blood-sweat-of-malaysian-muay-thai-championships-organizer/), the Hijab / Veil / Shawl industry should not be underestimated.
We always read in magazines that Malaysian fashionistas always aspire to emulate the fashion renaissance as per the elite hubs as per Milan, Paris or New York – hence the KL Fashion Week, Kuala Lumpur Islamic Fashion Festival, etc – but I think these fashionistas can focus more on the Hijabs and try to solidify the presence of events like KL International Hijab Festival. I know it may sound laughable by some of self-professed fashionistas who may stumble upon this blog (well, there’s always some people who want to portray themselves as fashion police but seriously does not look good at all. Look at Joan River, for Heaven’s sake! LOL!) but hey – if the Western can make the Victoria’s Secret lingerie as ‘top-notch’; you can’t underestimate the Hijab revolution, no? Haha!
Anyway, since I am an ignoramus and oblivious about Hijab industry, Kakak was so excited telling me about Zawara. Honestly, I have never heard of this label (obviously because I don’t wear Hijab! Hahaha!) and when we entered the coffee shop, I was mesmerized by the chic and modern inner deco, emulating the modern Starbucks and Coffee Bean!! Kakak told me that the parent company of course centralizes on the Muslimah apparels and the coffee shop is one of the so-called subsidiaries. Wow, I was fixated by that idea. Amazing! And they had a technology where a mini disc was given to each customers and it will buzz when the ordered beverages or meals are ready; so customers could just go to the counter and collect them! Kakak also told me that most of the Hijab outlets began from humble starting point; to be specific, they started from Instagram. Once they have garnered substantial followers and mouth-to-mouth marketing strategy, they become establish and open shops! Amazing. And the website is quite chic-style, as well. Check it out at http://www.zawara.com/.
From this, we can see that the application of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is heavily applied. I remember that the late Kak Yati, my Master’s Degree coursemate who passed away last December due to dengue did a proposal during our Communication Research Method class entitled – “Relationship Between Celebrity Endorsement & Ariani Hijab”. I was skeptical but when I read that, I gradually understand that this industry has immense potential. I think this industry is very interesting to be studied. I have an interest in topics in regards of Malays or Malaysian Moslems and I always want to incorporate that into Communication framework. I hope I could find a good topic as a proposal for upcoming PhD material. I have browsed through a few researches and of course, there are a few studies conducted on regards of this topic :-
- “Tolerance of Islam: A Study on Fashion among Modern and Professional Malay Women in Malaysia” by Hanisa Hasan et al., 2015 – REFER to http://www.ijssh.org/papers/499-V10018.pdf ;
- “A Comparative Analysis on Hijab Wearing in Malaysian Muslimah Magazines” by Nurzihan Hassim, 2014 – REFER to http://search.taylors.edu.my/journalonline/Vol%206%20Issue%201/Paper%205.pdf.
The late Kak Yati’s proposal – “The Relationship Between Celebrity Endorsement and Ariani Hijab”. From there, I gradually opened my eyes about this industry. I am sorry, I still feel that all the Hijab mostly look the same but I am interested to fathom it from the point of view of Communication.
As an aspirant Social Scientist (Whoa?!), I need to heighten my curiosity. That will serve as the longevity linkage to the passion of wanting to do more research. As my amateur Project Paper for Master’s Degree is finalized, I am now to enter into the framework strategy on how to further my PhD. I need to do it for myself. Not to prove to anyone. It is for me. It is for my own achievement. So, apart from scouting for any opportunities (and yet to discuss with key people), I am also scouting for potential topic to be incorporated into Communication framework. Hopefully I can find a topic that is my forte which is related to Malays or Muslim culture with communication. God bless, amin.
Now, even local celebrity opens their own labels to take advantage of the demands from their targeted market – Malaysian Moslem women! Neelofa apparently launched her “Naelofar” Hijab. Apparently it was reported that she is doing well with the business and I could see a lot of my female colleagues at school are into this as well. You guys can check the sleek and chic website as well as at http://naelofarhijab.com/.
As for the Hijab / Veil / Shawl industry, I can vouch that their eminence is becoming stronger AND it is apparent that Malaysian Moslem women are definitely the cashcows for these entrepreneurs! Sly and smart, I can say. But it is a surplus for the ummah though. The Malaysian Muslim women are rising (now that can open a new discussion of Malaysian Moslem women’s feminism, no? Haha!).