Conservative Chic: The Muna AbuSulayman Collection

Article by Marriam M Mossalli


We have all met Muna AbuSulayman, the TV personality, and we’re all fans of Muna AbuSulayman, the United Nations goodwill ambassador. While most know her today as Muna AbuSulayman, the current secretary-general at the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, it is her newest hat — or scarf, in this case, that has us talking.

The muhajaba personality we’ve all come to love is quickly proving there’s nothing she cannot do. Allow me to introduce you to Muna AbuSulayman: the fashion entrepreneur.
“I love creativity,” enthused AbuSulayman, whose passion and energy is pleasantly contagious. “Whether it’s writing or drawing, I always need to have some outlet of creativity in my life or else I feel my world is somehow stagnant,” she confessed.
It was this marriage of her creative side and her proactive attitude that got AbuSulayman thinking that that she had to do something to fill a huge void in the retail market. Born out of her own frustration, AbuSulayman decided to create her own clothing brand when she found herself returning back from countless shopping trips unsatisfied and unfulfilled. “I couldn’t easily find clothes that were nice, elegant, mid-casual and modest!” she stated.

However, AbuSulayman allowed her idea to gestate for a year before she finally launched her line. “I did a lot of research and it was a huge learning curve,” she admitted. “I wanted to make sure that all the issues other women and I had been concerned over were addressed.”
From transparent chiffon blouses, which force modest women to layer, to embroidery on the neckline, which often gets covered when a scarf is worn, AbuSulayman found solutions to with her own line.
“Finding the right materials to use, like a silk that wouldn’t be transparent, took a lot of trial and error,” she revealed. “There was a lot of experimentation.“ She went on to discuss how she even tested different jerseys, omitting ones that were too heavy in the warmer climates of the Gulf. “I wanted my pieces to be light-weight enough so you’re not sweating in your clothes,” stated AbuSulayman, who as a resident of Riyadh, is obliged to wear an added layer in the form of an abaya over her outfits.

“I want my clothes to be practical, as well as timeless.”  With a loyal following of fashionistas aged between 25-45, it seems the vivacious designer has done just that. Her wrapped coveralls are a hit among all aged women, while other pieces are aimed at more specific demographics. “I have things that my young daughter wears and other pieces that my older sister and sister-in-law have in their closets,” she added.
“A big part was that these pieces be comfortable, and not require too much thinking, which is why I made matching scarves,” said AbuSulayman. “So often I would get an outfit and keep it in my closest for a year because I didn’t have a head scarf to match it.” Other practical concerns, like making sure the clothes don’t easily wrinkle and wash well, were successfully addressed.

Her pieces are often based on styles that she herself has worn over the years. “I basically molded the designs after cuts that worked well on my body type.” The result is a line of flattering cuts and elaborate finishings of hand embroidery and appliqué of semi-precious stones. “I have these bamboo scarves, which are stretchy and cool, plus they’re beautiful on,” she says so enthusiastically that you’re suddenly convinced you need to own one immediately! “And, the best part is that it doesn’t move!” she added.

The world’s best hands in India do the embroidery of her pieces, from the evening gowns to the feminine tunics. However, her clothes are produced in the same factories as some of the leading luxury labels, such as Valentino and Blumarine, which reveal how AbuSulayman spared no expense when it came to the quality of her garments.
Yet, what really sets AbuSulyman’s collections apart from others is her almost OCD attention-to-details. She goes through several samples–sometimes six for one design, until it each is perfected. “I personally test them,” she added, referring to the fact that she’ll often wear the samples before giving production the go-ahead.
The quality and aesthetic are providing an unmatched line in the market. The fact that AbuSulayman, herself, is one of her biggest fans reveals her belief in her brand, while also being a testament to its lure. “I wear my stuff a lot,” she admits. “I think I have one shirt I’ve worn like 30,000 times! I love it!”

Women seem to love them too. Currently, AbuSulayman’s collections can be found in Turkey and across the Gulf, including in Jeddah’s I Love Hishma boutique in Ana Special and Harvey Nichols in Riyadh. Her collections will also be available for purchase online in the coming months.

Arab News article