RIYADH: The bisht is traditionally donned by Saudi men, a long cloak worn over thobes that is usually made of wool and available in neutral colors. But three Saudi women are putting a twist on the bisht by feminizing it and dialing up the glamor.
Jilbab_NR was founded in 2010 by sisters Nejoud and Nouf Sharbatly and their friend Rehab Mirdad. Together they combined their ideas and love for traditional Saudi garments and embarked on a cultural fashion journey. Their first collection? The bisht-abaya. They began with gold and silver embroidery on black fabric, later branching out into bolder colors and designs.
The business is based in Jeddah and has a thriving clientele base across Saudi Arabia, Nouf said. There may not be a store but they always showcase their latest collection on Instagram and in bazaars.
Their Instagram account has more than 35,000 followers and features distinctive garments for different tastes — pastels, pinstripes, and prints, belted, embroidered, zipped and floral.
“We are blessed to have beautiful and loyal customers that always give us their positive feedback and make us design the best for them,” Nouf told Arab News. They constantly seek the latest trends and styles for their clients “but with a jilbab fingerprint on it.”
The trio have created the royal bisht, which is a lush abaya, their signature bisht-abaya, which has the look and feel of an abaya but with the embroidery of a bisht, and the vest-bisht, which is sleeveless and made of sheer material and can be thrown over jeans and a top for a casual but elegant look.
The bishts come in different colors, from Tiffany & Co.’s signature duck-egg blue to maroon and black. The spectrum is one of the things that sets them apart from other brands, which have begun copying the trios’ style.
“Alhamdulillah, the jilbab has been in the Saudi market now for nine years. It is known and recognized from its design and styles that you cannot miss, no matter how many copies we see in the market. That’s normal and it makes us happy and proud because that’s the sign of success,” said Nouf.
Since then Jilbab_NR has expanded and created different abayas and jalabiyas. One of its more exquisite pieces is the Goyard abaya, which is beaded by hand and named after the French label. “We don’t have time to do a proper photo shoot, because whenever we post a picture on Instagram the abayas or thobes sell out.”
Jilbab_NR’s latest collection will be for Ramadan. Nouf said they were special and colorful abayas and jalabiyas with the holy month’s “vibes, spirit and style on them.”
Find them on Instagram: Jilbab_NR