Digital revolution: Animal prints in demand at Dubai’s Diva Abaya Couture

The latest flourish to the abaya comes in the form of digital animals prints and bold splashes of colour. Narain Shewakramani talks about championing the trend.

 A customer chooses decor to have her Abaya customised at the Diva Couture Boutique at the Wafi Mall in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

By definition, a diva is a ­single-minded woman with a reputation for getting what she wants. This season, in the world of fashion, what that woman wants is digital cat prints adorning her abaya, fabric and apparel entrepreneur Naren Shewaramani says.

He, along with his parents and brother, have just opened their first abaya boutique – Diva Abaya Couture – at Wafi Mall, Dubai.

What sets his boutique apart is a collection of playful prints that have been digitally imposed onto conservative garments.

“We’re into offbeat abaya trends,” says Shewaramani. “We play with colours, fabrics, finishes and embellishments to give abayas a twist.

“People seem really keen on the digital range because the technique is still not commonplace in the region. We’ve found that mixing up prints and putting them on traditional abayas is working out brilliantly.”

Diva’s digital prints portfolio is updated with new designs each month. Only a handful of each size of the abayas is produced to ensure a degree of exclusivity.

Compared with the more common practice of machine- embroidering abayas, digital printing leaves the garments silky smooth to the touch, with vibrant colours and sharply defined lines.

Trending this month are paisley prints in rich blue and mustard, while more muted pieces have kimono-esque ecru-coloured sleeves with splashes of gold and black. Bolder creations feature prints of tigers, zebras or cheetahs overlaid with polka dots.

Customisation is an option, should a client desire, for example, a dog motif print instead of the amber-hued cat that is a current best-seller in the store.

“Ladies can come to us with a specific print and we’ll put it onto the abaya,” says Shewaramani. “This provides us with great insight into what our clients are looking for, without us second-guessing. Some customisations and alterations can be done in as little as two hours.”

Prices for Diva’s digital abayas range from Dh799 to Dh999, while items from its couture line can go up to Dh2,499. There are also some more understated and modest abayas, with prices starting at Dh399.

“Tastes in the region are still quite conservative, and our black-on-black abayas with Swarovski crystals will always be popular,” says Shewaramani, who adds that about 80 per cent of his clientele is from the GCC and Mena regions.

“For the new generation, who are more open to experimenting, we have plenty of colours.”

Adorning the necklines, hems and cuffs of Diva’s non-digital abayas this winter are shades of salmon pink and cyan.

Silhouettes are soft and billowing, with selected abayas cinched at the waist with belts.

The fabrics, which include luxurious and lightweight georgette, chiffon and satin, are hand-picked by the Shewaramani family.

“The boutique was a natural progression for us as a family because we’ve been in textiles for more than 40 years,” adds Shewaramani. “My dad’s been in the business in Dubai since 1992 and in Saudi Arabia for 14 years before that.

“We deal with every fabric you can imagine, and lots of linens, lace and jacquard.

“After we select them, it’s our hugely talented team of artisans who embroider, hand-bead and work with crystals to create the range.

“They look fabulous and that’s how we want our clients to feel when they put them on.

“We want our pieces to reflect a woman’s inner beauty and perhaps even help bring out her ‘inner diva’.”

Diva Abaya Couture is on the ground floor of Dubai’s Wafi Mall. Visit or call 04 3207 040