Fitness meets fashion as Saudi designer launches first sports abaya

JEDDAH: Meet the certified fitness trainer who holds a BA in fashion. Lojain Badr Al-Refae has merged both her passions in a brand called MULU athletics.
Al-Refae had her father’s support when she decided to get her BA in fashion design, never thinking that she would find another passion alongside her husband, Mohammed Dakhil, in college — fitness.
“When I developed an interest in fitness, I decided, you know what, I think that I want to do fitness fashion, such as gym clothes, working out, atheletics wear … I found myself.
“From then on, I decided I wanted to focus on this aspect of fashion.”

Al-Refae and her husband lived in the US for many years. They bonded through training and exercise, but when they came back to Saudi Arabia, they were unable to work out together.

The abaya had always been an obstacle for her, while working out outside. “It wasn’t comfortable, neither in movement nor when taking the kids out to play. I decided that we wanted to launch MULU.”

MULU is named after both her and her husband, who is also a fitness trainer. It’s a touching name to them — “very personal and close to the heart.”

“I decided to come up with this design, an abaya that is comfortable and not clingy. The material is made specifically for MULU, from abroad.”

The material is made for working out. It has flexibility, absorbs sweat and controls overheating.

There are two versions of the abaya: The first, which has a low arch, and the second, newer version, which has a higher arch, and is bike and running friendly. “The new high-arch abaya is great for hardcore runners,” said Al-Refae.

“At first, we focused on the abaya, which we called free flow, because it helps you flow into your activities, whatever they are, working out, or taking your kids to the park, running out with your husband and much more,” she said.

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