Her grandfather set up the tailor shop. Her father expanded it into a fashion label and manufacturer. Now it’s young Qamila Amran’s turn to decide on the next direction for the AmarAmran brand, writes ZIEMAN.
THE AmarAmran brand, which goes back 41 years and spans three generations, is one of the pioneers of Muslim fashion, forging the path for the other Muslim fashion labels to follow.
Qamila Amran, who took over the business in 2013, says it’s a challenge trying to live up to expectations.
“My father pioneered the Muslim modest clothing trend that has made AmarAmran what it is today. He was a designer in his own right, and always came up with chic and practical designs.
“They’re always simple but stylish,” she says.
AmarAmran started as a tailor company in Kota Baru in 1975, before it expanded and became a manufacturer and boutique. Qamila’s grandfather, Abdullah Abdul Rahman, then 33, opened the shop with a paid-up capital of RM300,000 in the year that his son, Amar Amran, was born, hence the moniker.
Amar inherited the business in 1999. Through stylish designs and exclusive quality, he established a successful Muslim fashion label at a time when the competition was not so keen.
Amar was aggressive, creating trendy designs like the slim-fit Muslim men robes, fashionable baju kebaya with a zip in the front, bell sleeves and Victorian-cut Muslimah robes.
In 2010, he set up shop at Jalan Masjid India and, for the next four years, AmarAmran became among the major brands to capture the Islamic fashion market with its robes, baju kurung, baju Melayu and Abaya range. Next, Amar injected RM400,000 to secure a wide-range of premium materials, including Italian cotton, specially designed for his label from a supplier in Indonesia.
He also made special orders for trademark AmarAmran buttons, zips, lace and thread. In addition, he hired 10 tailors who were all stationed in his factory in Kota Baru.
AmarAmran became a trendsetter, with its characteristic simple, exclusive and stylish looks.
The boutique moved to its present location in Shah Alam in 2014. By then, the 41-year-old businessman-designer had already launched himself as a regional player with the brand having a presence in Britain, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Turkey.
“AmarAmran is known for simple, exclusive designs that are stylish and unique,” says Amar. “Over the years, we have made this our trademark and we try to stay true to our brand image.”
These days, Amar mostly concentrates on his property business, having passed the baton to his eldest daughter Qamila.
She says her father still helps out with the design.
“Somehow he’s always had a winning touch,” she says, adding that he is always spot-on when it comes to trends and palettes.
“He predicts navy blue will be the new craze for this Raya, just like how he predicted emerald green for last year. He also introduced the fashionable zip on the front of the short kebaya, which has been a hit so far,” Qamila says.
Qamila, who is pursuing a degree in Sharia, believes fashion is a passion.
“You should not restrict your creativity just because it has to adhere to Islamic guidelines. My father taught me how to exercise creativity so that I could explore new grounds in Muslim fashion, and I’m trying to create a few designs of my own,” she says.
It’s the unmistakable style of AmarAmran that makes it so popular. Apart from their own label, they also take on OEM consignments for other Muslim labels.
“We do private label designs with special labelling and branding. We also take custom-made and bulk orders. In fact, some of our OEM clients are established brands now,” says Qamila.
AmarAmran also offers customers bespoke tailoring, as all its tailors are well-trained and professional. Its customised tailoring services has clientele which includes VIPs and celebrities – many are long-standing customers.
“They like our workmanship because we give individual interpretations and adhere to their personal tastes – something my father was good at. He has advised me to stay true to the design orders and the details our customers’ request. It’s important to ensure customer satisfaction,” says Qamila, who is taking to social media to stay current.
She connects with 60,000 followers via Instagram.
According to Qamila, revenue recorded satisfactory growth last year, though she declines to give figures. This year will be even better, she says.
For her, Muslim fashion should be universal, comfortable and not overpriced.
With the younger generation having taken a liking to wearing robes, AmarAmran makes it a point to cater to this demand. From slim-fit to true-to-size fit to loose-cuts, the label sells more than 1,000 robes a week through its stockists.
“We offer the perfect combination of contemporary and traditional tailoring. We have a few robe designs, like the Moroccan Jubba, Omani style and typical traditional robes. The satisfaction of wearing a well-tailored robe is really amazing.
“You can’t actually attach a price tag to comfort. If you find a good fit, you just grab it,” she says.
“Though we have high-end consumers, it doesn’t mean you have to pay a premium to get quality items here. Besides our boutique in Alam Avenue, Shah Alam, our products are also available through our stockists and agents,” says Qamila.
“The Muslim fashion industry is evolving, and consumers now have more choices. For me, this is not just a money-making opportunity. I put my heart and soul into AmarAmran because it is a huge responsibility.
“It will be years before I can fill my father’s shoes, but I’m trying my best. My father has laid down a strong foundation and reputation for AmarAmran, which is known for its quality and exclusivity, so I have to work hard to maintain this brand image,” she adds.
Even though her father now takes a back seat, Qamila feels AmarAmran still needs his personal touch when it comes to the designs.
“Our customers love his styles because he is very creative. So, in a way, he is still our designer. I concentrate more on marketing. What’s important is I want my father to know AmarAmran is in safe hands,” says Qamila.