Saturday, May 26, 2012

Where do I shop for abayas these days?

Back when I lived in Canada I bought most of my abayas online from places like & . didn't exist back then right.

Now, surrounded by many places to get gorgeous abayaat from, I shop in majority from the local Omani tailor shop designs. I have quite a few favourite tailors, 3-4 in the BACK of the famous Mutrah souq, 2 in the Seeb Souq (1 from the Seeb mall, and one along the highway near a Turkish restaurant), 1 in Al Ghubra near the Bank Muscat down a little back alley who can basically copy any thing you give him a photo of beyond hand embroidery... There's alot of choices. If you know your fabrics and how to barter, and are up to speed on your abaya fashions and finishings, you can get an abaya as good as the designer brands for 1/4 of the price when you deal with a tailor give or take hand embroidery. You DO HAVE TO know about prices for fabrics and the cost of the latest designs though, because bartering is a must, and most tailors will guage you until you become a repeat customer unless they instantly like you;). We Canadian girls seem pretty lucky with this, poor Boxie aside.
My second favourite places are Boutique brands. These abayas often DO have handwork and are in the latest styles and are priced according to the work plus around 10-15 rials more than souq abayaat just because they usually don't stock anything "so 2007" in way of abayas. My favourite shops?: Abayat Al Princessa in Al Araimi complex in al Qurum even though it doesn't look like much from the outside, the boutique shops in Al Bahja... and Wala Boutique in Barka on the way to barka souq in the same strip mall as the Ajmal perfume shop (the only out of Muscat shop I like so far---Barka is famous for tailoring). I also love "Abayaat Al Shamkha" in Madinat Qaboos area of Muscat. I AM SORRY though, my Omani sisters, an abaya from Seeb Mall in the Seeb Souq IS not a Boutqiue brand just because the tailor shop has delusions of grandeur. Boutique shops are about the finest in quality and design. They don't make cheaper versions like tailor shops do though maybe they can make without beading in places to get the price more to your range or less crystals ect. .
I DO like the shaylas from Muscat's branch of Emirati brand "Al Ghatwa" but the guy who works here is a jerk, unlike the fellows from the Abu Dhabi store, so I just don't get my abayas from him,, whether I like them or not. AND he overcharges saying "we're a branch of Khunji". Like that means wearing Al Ghatwa is on par with wearing Khunji. NOT.
I really do love the quality of the handwork on Al Motahajaba abayas and shaylas but because of the prices, tend to go boutique for similar designs and quality workmanship. I can't live though, without Al Motahajaba shaylas and niqabs. I buy the 10 rial niqab here. And wear it too much. Al Motahajaba in Oman is located in the Seeb City Center Mall. They are also the only branded store that sell "gashwa" veils.
I often peruse the plain black abayas at Hanayen as well as the colourful logoed shaylas. Everything else is either too expensive, too blingy, or too tacky, for me. Staff are efficient and not rude here though;), Seeb City Center Mall.
While I haven't bought anything from "First Choice" in years, they still have lovely shaylas, and super nice customer service, Seeb City Center Mall. I don't usually do "Khunji" because their abayas are way overpriced but they often have innovative cuts. I promise to highlight more abaya brands that I love but I will start with Muscat's oldest favourite darling:
"Dar al Princessa" is located in Al Araimi Complex shopping mall in Al Qurum. Their abayas carry a heady price tag but are worth it for the fabrics, cuts, and quality of any handwork. My dream abaya of each season always lies here, hauntingly unaffordable. Their customer service is super friendly despite their success (an Omani thing) and they can always offer one less expensive options on a favoured design. Their in house Iranian tailor is amazing. One I recommend.

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