December 09, 2018 02:58 PM | by Ola Moheb
Lojain Alrefae on Her Path to Creating the First Sportswear Abaya
Fitness instructor and fashion designer Logain Alrefae wanted to break the limitations women feel in Saudi when it comes to working out and having a comfortable active life...and so her brand MULU aims to give women a healthy fitness lifestyle without any restrictions when it comes to the clothes or how they look. She designed the first sportswear abaya.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Lojain Alrefae. I’m a fitness professional and a fashion designer, a wife and a mother of two girls. I grew up in the states and moved to Saudi in 2012.
What came first in your career, fitness or fashion design?
I did my bachelors degree in fashion design. However I grew to love fitness and it became a major part of my lifestyle and a profession that I love doing all the while still being very aware of and into the fashion industry.
What made you realize your passion for fashion design?
It started simply because I love drawing and I was very intrigued by the different trends and how fashion makes every person’s personality stands out.
From where you get the idea of a sportive Abaya?
When I moved back to Saudi after living in The states for so long, I felt restricted every time I wanted to go workout outdoors with my husband or take my kids to the playground and thus I got the idea of creating something that would be acceptable within our community while focusing on style comfort and functionality. Having been very involved in fitness and following the fitness fashion trends, I knew exactly the type of material and fabric formulas I needed, to make the perfect lifestyle Abaya.
What does your brand name MULU stand for?
The name originated from the first two letters of my husbands name and my name which is MOLO. However, we substituted the U in place of the O because we just felt that it flowed better.
How did Muslim girls, especially in America and Saudi Arabia, respond to your product?
The response has been great! We are blessed to have launched our brand with the perfect product at the right time. During our launch Saudi was going through some major changes such as women’s driving, increased focus on health and fitness, officially licensing female gyms, and increase development of outdoor parks and walkways. All of this served as the perfect scenario for us to offer our product to women who enjoyed being active and less restricted.
Can you tell us more about the fabric of the abaya, design and how does it make training easier?
The fabric is a formula we formulated with our manufacturer specifically for MULU. Our focus was to create something that is breathable, soft and cool to the touch, stretchable, Dri Fit, and of course most important appealing to look at.
Do you have new designs for the sportive abaya planned?
We currently just launched our new collection with lighter improved fabric , additional colors, and two different styles, high arch and low arch, to serve multiple activities such as running, biking, hiking, or just lounging.
Did you face any challenges when you started this project?
It is never smooth sailing and there are always major challenges when first launching a business or brand. Our first challenge was figuring out how to bring our idea to reality by finding the right illustrating expert and manufacturing facility in different parts of the world and after that going through multiple sampling phases and having the product be created to our exact specifications and within the our standards.
Who encouraged you on taking this step and were you worried that the Muslim community might not accept it?
Our family and specifically my father was our number one supporter and he really pushed us to take the risk and move forward with our idea. Deep down we were always confident that we are bringing something great to our community, that will enable the lives of women in Saudi and other conservative countries towards being more active. However, the concern was always there, that it won’t be accepted as it is a major shift from the traditional Abaya.
MULU is an athleasure wear brand we aim to inspire an active and healthy lifestyle within communities and families. The Free Flow Abaya is our first piece and the perfect product to launch our brand with. As for the coming future, we will be launching a female, male, and kids line to inspire the whole family to lead a healthy lifestyle.
All Image Credits: Photographer Mokhtar Chahine Via Instagram @mulu_athletics
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