Contemporary Abaya Designs – Hidaya International

By Shereen Shabnam

Hidaya International Pic.jpg

When I look for abayas from abroad, my go to brand is the Malaysian fashion brand, Hidaya which does contemporary Abaya designs for the powerful, glamorous and beautiful women looking for traditional, timeless and interchangeable fashion pieces that set their own new trend in the fashion industry globally.

Initially launching straightforward abayas with lace trims and appliques for the Malaysian market, the brand is now aiming to meet the needs of the modest wear clientele globally, starting with the Middle East market.

According to designer, Hidayah Wan Ismail, it was necessary to start the journey with conventional styles for Malaysians, as they do not traditionally wear abayas. To attract them to the black robes meant that some embellishments were necessary and to appeal to the Arab region, she has added a little twist to the standard abaya to bring out the confidence and sensuality of the wearer.

Hidayah was inspired by the way women dressed in the 1930s during the economic downturn, which resonates with our present economic climate and how the economic situation is reflected in the way women dress. Frills and trims were reduced, cuts were more modest and the frivolity of the 1920s was replaced with practicality.


The collection I love most is a mix of practical and simple with a slight touch of elegant glamour. It is an ensemble of full looks, the components of which are interchangeable and can be worn separately to celebrate individuality and reflect the wearer’s unique taste.

My favourite piece in this collection has to be the Charlotte dress (named after Charlotte Bronte the poet) and the Keller abaya, named after Helen Keller.

Combining the culture and traditions of the Muslim world with forward looking international trends means each Abaya piece is designed to stand out and make a statement.

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