Celebrating Hari Raya Wakanda-style: Families go gaga over T'Challa outfits
Demand for Black Panther-inspired baju Melayu has been overwhelming, even as the Geylang Serai bazaar winds down
Three months ago, Madam Malika Abdul Rawoof had just started selling replicas of the regal embroidered black robe Chadwick Boseman's King T'Challa wore in the hit Marvel superhero movie Black Panther.
One viral image later, that replica ended up becoming a bestseller at her Tekka Centre fashion boutique Al Ain Fashion.
And since The New Paper's March 20 report on it, Madam Malika has introduced 14 different colours of the Black Panther-inspired baju Melayu as well as a variety of sizes suitable for young children and even the burliest of men keen for a slice of Wakandan style.
Two weeks ago, she introduced a new ensemble inspired by the design of T'Challa's vest that the character sported in Avengers: Infinity War.
Just like Boseman's Wakanda accent in the movies, demand for the outfits has been strong, with her stall at the month-long Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar attracting throngs of shoppers, especially with Hari Raya around the corner.
The 47-year-old told TNP yesterday: "For my stall at the bazaar, I ordered 4,000 sets of the Black Panther outfits. As of this week, which is the last week of the bazaar, I have only about 500 sets left.
"I managed to sell 330 sets last Sunday too. There's just been a tremendous public response. Honestly I didn't expect the Malay community to be so receptive."
A complete set is priced at $69 at her bazaar stall.
They are imported from Mumbai and are also cheaper than the versions sold at the boutique (ranging from $170 to $450), as the materials used are different - wool-blended Raymond fabric at the boutique and Thai silk and cotton at the bazaar.
This was to cut down costs for a certain segment of customers, Madam Malika said, since families would visit her stall to purchase multiple matching sets, including elderly grandparents.
She said the most popular colours were green, navy blue, silver and red.
She said: "There was even a family who bought 12 sets, because they wanted to give some to their relatives in Johor Bahru when they go over to celebrate Hari Raya."
According to Madam Malika, Malaysians have also been bitten by the Black Panther bug, with many coming during weekends to make purchases.
She has seen customers from as far as Penang, while others buy for relatives overseas.
Women have not been left out either, as Madam Malika also offers a $120 replica of the sleeveless white dress worn by T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) in Black Panther.
It needs to be specially tailor-made, so measurements have to be taken on site.
With the bazaar winding down, Madam Malika expects a surge of last-minute shoppers. Her stall closes at 3am each day and will run till 4am on Hari Raya morning.
She said: "It was a big challenge to fulfil such an overwhelming number of orders.
"I'm very pleased that we managed to meet them, although I can't wait to finally rest once the bazaar is over."
She added that this period has been even busier for her than Deepavali last year when she replicated outfits from the Telugu film franchise Baahubali.
"I'll definitely be taking a short break after this. It has been nothing short of overwhelming (in) the past month," she said.
"After that, I'll be looking to new films for inspiration and coming up with new designs."