KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 ― As a child, Siti Sumarni Suhaimi had often questioned what she saw as “modern” and “sexy” outfits that came with her “Barbie” dolls, and whether there were alternatives to these designs and narratives.
The 32-year old housewife said she had asked her mother whether she could dress up her Barbie with a baju kurung or other outfits, which were not necessarily steeped in Western influences.
“When I was little I had Barbie dolls and I would tell my mother I would like to dress them in baju kurung. There is no wrong in making other fashion designs that those from the West.
“Now, I have thought about preparing a Muslimah fashion for them. If kids go to stores they only see Barbie will sexy outfits, but now that there is a baju kurung fashion which represents our culture,” Siti told ProjekMMO, Malay Mail Online's sister publication, in an interview.
This led her to create Myhijabie, a Muslimah ― or Muslim women ― fashion concept for Barbie dolls that she said was garnering steady support from countries such as Brunei, Switzerland and Turkey.
“We are expanding the doll fashion with the diversity of the hijab,” she explained, saying that Myhijabie has been operating online through Instagram for the past two years and also offered baju melayu fashion choices for male Barbie dolls.
“Children are excited to see Barbie dolls and when we change it up with the hijab fashion, it makes them able to relate it to our culture.
“I have a customer from Singapore who gave it to her daughter for her birthday. Her daughter was so happy to get a mother and daughter set of dolls. To her it was like herself and her mother,” Siti said, referring to the doll.
According to the entrepreneur, more than 50 Myhijabie dolls are made every month, and she takes one day to sew outfits for five dolls. Each doll is sold for RM80, and customers are allowed to customise the designs and material of the doll's clothing.
“As a Muslim, we wear the baju kurung and hijab. It is a responsibility,” Siti said.