Amira Abayas is a welcome addition to Bradford’s regeneration of independent retailers who are helping to steer the city into an exciting future.
Bradford born Zubair Khan is a young and passionate entrepreneur who has chosen his city of birth to open his exclusive store on Westgate. The temptation to open in another city was always there for Zubair, who previously owned a small shop on Morley Street in Bradford 7 where he sold fragrances and books, but he decided to invest in the city at a time when morale is on the up and customers are returning on the back of the opening of the Broadway Centre.
Zubair has travelled the world throughout his life and is proud to call Bradford his home wherever he goes. Born in the Little Horton area of Bradford, Zubair has lived an interesting life. He confesses to being a troublesome child growing up, but after embracing his faith later on in life, he is now wanting to show the world wherever he travels, of how Bradford is a thriving multicultural city and a fine example of cultural cohesion as well as to change the global misconception of Islam.
As I met him at his store, Zubair’s calming personality and charming appearance is both welcoming and serene. This relaxing ambience is apparent throughout the store with its lighting and layout of designer Abayas and other accessories. Asked to explain exactly what an Abaya is for those who may not be aware, Zubair says: “An Abaya is a modest over garment that covers you from the neck all the way down to the ankles. There are different variations of an Abaya. Some people like it closed and some people prefer open Abaya’s. For example if you go to Qatar, you will see more fancy designs.
“Abayas originate from the Middle-East and have been available in the UK for a while but there has not been a store in the UK that solely sells Abayas.”
After extensive research by travelling the world visiting countries such as Morocco, Dubai, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, Zubair realised that there was a gap in the market in the UK.
“My intention, when I opened Amira, was to offer our sisters an option of a more modest attire. As I was considering venturing into this business, I asked many women in the community why they do not wear more modest clothing. Most of the answers I received were that many felt the Abaya’s available were not fashionable and typical. Hence, I promised them that I would open a shop that would provide designer Abaya’s that would easily blend into the western fashion sense, but at the same time, keeping the Abaya ethos.”
Since opening the store in January, Amira Abayas has become the talk of the town and has attracted customers from all over the country. Regardless of faith and background, Abayas have been purchased by women from all cultures. With an eclectic array of Abayas, Joobas (men’s equivalent) fragrances and Burkinis (one-piece swimsuits that cover up almost all of your skin when swimming), Zubair plans to extend his premises as demand for the Abaya has been overwhelming and he is running out of space to display the increasing number of costumes that are being shipped in from around the world.
“The response that we have received since opening in January this year has been fantastic. Many customers, who have never tried on an Abaya, are now our regular customers who feel comfortable and confident whilst wearing the outfit.”
Another unique selling point for Amira Abayas is that they are the only store in the north of England who have permission to stock the exclusive Adviya London collection, a brand where each item is personally hand designed. Adviya London was shortlisted for a Shell LiveWire award for young entrepreneurs and is regarded by many as the leading brand for Abayas.
Prices for the designer Abaya vary from £19.99 – £129.99 (exclusive range). The excusive range are one-off designs that will not be designed again. Amira also stock a wide range of fragrances (alcohol free), which are also becoming very popular. They currently stock over 100 different fragrances that are attracting customers from as far as Manchester.
Asked why he named his store Amira, Zubair says: “Many people think that I have a daughter named Amira or something along those lines but in reality I just liked the name and the meaning. In Arabic, Amira means ‘Princess’ and it stuck from there.”
Amira is now on the verge of selling online and judging by the reaction of the store since its opening three months ago, Amira will no doubt go global in the very near future.
You can visit Amira’s Abayas at: 203 Westgate, Bradford, BD1 3AD