Ramadhan is just about three weeks away and Hari Raya preparations are already in full swing for most people, especially women who have been sending material to tailors nationwide for their custom-made 'Baju Raya' as early as March, in order to avoid disappointment.
Some tailors have been flooded with materials and orders for Hari Raya clothing so far in advance that some have stopped taking additional orders since May in light of the tremendous work load in ensuring that all current orders will be ready on time.
In Islam, it is considered 'sunat' or encouraged to wear new attire on the first day of Hari Raya if a person can afford it, however, in Brunei, it is usually a mad rush to get not one, but a number of dresses per person.
A long-established dress making shop in the capital that has been operating for many decades, Linda Dressmaker, have also received a lot of work orders for the upcoming festivities.
Employees at the shop have been working over-time nightly, including Sundays, in an effort to meet the dateline.
Nora, a young parent told the Bulletin that she usually needs a minimum of seven dresses for the festive occasion. But this year, it seems that she is going to require a lot more as she is currently reviving her entire wardrobe, and she needs a baju kurung for work as well.
The charge for making a Baju Kurung can range between $12 to $700 depending on the workmanship required. Plain and simple attires usually costs between $12 and $50, while additional detailing such as the inclusion of embroidery, beads and iron-on crystals usually start at the $50 mark. There have been instances however in the past, when irresponsible customers don't collect their outfits because they ran out of money, which then leads tailors to auction off these outfits in order to recover a part of their losses.
This year I am turning over a new leaf and will not spend a significant amount of money on Baju Kurungs.
Material and textiles can either be bought from the wide array of choices here in Brunei or from abroad. Another popular way of obtaining materials is ordering them via 'small-time importers' on the social networking site Facebook - many of whom import their materials from Dubai, China, Italy and France just to name a few.
Now, regarding the tailor of your choice, many women prefer to go to establishments with cheap work order fees, while some pay great importance on comfort and the cut of a certain dress maker.
Despite Linda Dressmaker's more expensive prices, I have developed a sense of loyalty to their creations as the comfort and the cut of the outfits I place orders for always satisfy.
The manager of Linda Dressmaker, Minah who is in her 30s, said that the business has over 35 years of experience in tailoring and that the shop actively follows the latest trends and styles in traditional and modern Baju Kurungs from contacts all around the world, as well as a team of 25 seamstresses, sewers, embroiderers and other employees who continuously strive for the best for all their customers.
The team comprise nationals of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and some locals who began working overtime in May where workers finished work at 9.30pm instead of the usual 6pm. But with Hari Raya's imminent arrival, the team of tailors are putting in even more overtime where this month employees can expect to work until around 11pm.
Minah also shared that the current fashion trends that has captured Bruneian women include 3D patchworks, lace patchworks, beadworks and the new Baju Kurung skirt.
With Ramadhan around the corner, it is safe to say that this remarkable tailor shop will be able to cope as it has the experience servicing at least four generation of Bruneian women.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin