Yes, you read that right. The popular children’s label is making clothes for adult women for this Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
I MET Syazana Sukiman, the brains behind upscale local children’s label Whimsigirl, a few days before Ramadan. She had sent me a message in the morning because of something we talked about more than a year ago — a clothes collection for women.
For those in the know, Whimsigirl is the go-to brand for children’s clothing because the clothes treat kids like kids.
Made of high-quality cotton and linen and generously cut so that little ones can run and hop in them in comfort, Whimsigirl has carved a name for itself and sells to customers around the world.
For three years, Syazana has toyed with the idea of designing a collection for women, specifically mothers.
“I’m not a womenswear designer,” she says as she sips a tiny cup of ginger tea.
“I have two boys (the youngest was born last December), I run around and I need clothes I can move in.
“I want Whimsigirl to have a purpose and the same goes to our women’s collection. I don’t want to just make clothes, you know what I mean? I want something that lasts, something you can wear every day and, most importantly, something comfortable for everyone, of every size.”
After much contemplation and trials, Whimsigirl released its first line of clothes for women this year, a capsule collection of baju kurung Kedah (“because that’s what I wear”) crafted in 100 per cent cotton fabric in an overall low-key silhouette.
A DEEPER MEANING
But the clothes have a deeper meaning than just a collection for Hari Raya. “We’re offering women’s wear as a tribute to strong females who march to the beat of their own drums and to the gentlemen who support them,” says Syazana.
Inspired by iconic females who have shaken and shaped the world we live in today, all clothes are designed to have soft structures to represent the brand’s idea of someone who defines her own destiny and does so with guts and grace.
With everyday women in mind, the pieces are modest, practical and versatile which make them suitable for Eid and beyond.
The three designs are named after Malaysian director Yasmin Ahmad, boxer Laila Ali and artist Frida Kahlo.
The first drop (some have sold out) is more traditional with dreamy and laid-back pieces in a fusion of cooling muted tones and fresh pastels while the second comprises more structured and modern pieces in richer colours and monochromes.
There is also a range of unisex pieces for kids and babies, which is the brand’s classic move. Some of the girl’s clothes match those made for women.
There are also substantially more designs for girls than boys this time around and this was deliberately done to highlight the campaign.
“We need to continuously lift and support each other to be comfortable in our skin. It is so important for women to be confident with their choices, be they parenting or career, and not for recognition or validation but for themselves. It is equally if not more important for men to support this. Ultimately, we want to raise strong females and gentlemen,” says Syazana.
A FRESH TAKE
In a sea of polyesters and mixed fabrics that are flooding the fashion market, it is a breath of fresh air that Whimsigirl’s line for women retains the fabric quality it is famous for.
The Laila kurung, for example, is made of cotton soft fabric you can live in, unlike the Vietnam version that’s often dubbed as English or Japanese cotton. This one’s really cool and comfortable.
But the best part is the cut is generous. Enough space for the hip is given so you can move around even in a kain sarung selisih without having to stretch the seam when you sit on the floor.
And the top, which gives space around the chest and tummy (so pregnant ladies can wear it too), can also be worn with jeans and pants.
The Yasmin kurung Kedah (the plain ones have all sold out) comes with wraparound sarong generous enough to be worn across a growing tummy without exposing your legs when you walk.
The Frida kurung in lace is feminine and beautiful with generous space for arms and hips.
A HIGHER PURPOSE
I think it’s safe to say that judging by the response, the capsule collection will grow into a full-fledged line.
Syazana says mothers buy less for their children to slot in a pair for themselves.
“Some customers tell me that they want to buy three pairs but their budget doesn’t allow it. I tell them to just buy one. I think clothes should serve a purpose and we should not be looking at volume when we buy. Get something that will last and something that you will wear often,” she says.
Despite being in an industry that thrives on speed and choices, Syazana doesn’t want Whimsigirl to grow too fast, too soon.
“More than anything else, I want this brand to have social values and to stand for something. Otherwise I find the business to be hollow,”
“I know it’s ironic, being in a business to make money yet not going all-out to do it, but there has got to be a higher purpose in things and I hope to strive for that,” she says.