The home-grown brand has established its style statement across the region while expanding its geographical footprint and leaving its imprint on leading global icons such as Disney and Marvel.
Rajan Trading Company embarked on its journey in 1983 when its distribution division began supplying ladies and children’s nightwear and loungewear to leading department stores in the UK and the Middle East. That journey got more interesting when Rajan Gill began taking an active interest in the family business run by his father.
“We made a strategic decision to launch our own label, drawing on our expertise in nightwear and loungewear for children and women – and Annabelle was born 2011,” recalls Gill, currently CEO of the Dubai-based company.
The Annabelle brand has been successfully established in the regional market over the last four years, with 20 retail stores across the UAE, Qatar and Oman. More new openings are scheduled over the next six months, including five in the UAE, two each in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt, and one in Qatar.
“Our strength is the experience we have gained in our product category – nightwear and loungewear – and our intimate knowledge of our core market,” observes Gill.
“Design is another strong edge. Our in-house design team, which is based in our London and Dubai offices, comprises internationally recognised specialists in product design. They create our cutting edge collections based on the latest global fashion trends, both for the European market and specifically designed for the Arabian market. So, in addition to our Annabelle brand collections sold in the region, we also supply many of the well-known high street stores across the UK and Europe,” he elaborates.
The in-house design team is led by Gill’s wife Aman, who is creative director of the company.
“Our core product is our range of pyjamas, which we have designed in different styles to cater to all age-groups. Our knitted nightshirts come in jersey and interlock and sport a collection of appliques, while our nightdresses feature embroidery anglaise in new designs every season,” says Aman.
She draws special attention to the white range – garments that include pyjamas and nightdresses, which are made from 100% white cotton, with hand-made lace and embroidery. On the other hand, nightdresses for mature customers are made from poly/cotton, while robes use polar, cotton or viscose polar fleece, yarn-dyed chambray, 100% cotton seersucker or textured double knit.
“We also have maxi slips made from 100% cotton with comfort in mind, while our leggings, both plain and printed, come in a wide range of styles and sizes,” Aman adds.
Loungewear comes in trend-led ranges every season and includes yoga pants, shorts and crop bottoms to match crew tops, t-shirts and tank tops, while the mix ‘n’ match ranges are also fashion-led as the seasons change.
Annabelle is the crown for Rajan Trading Company but it also holds the retail franchise for Disney Consumer Products (DCP) and Marvel Entertainment so it stocks the full range of Disney and Marvel nightwear and fashion loungewear for all ages as well as the full range of infants clothing based on Disney characters in its Annabelle-brand stores.
DCP is the number one global licensor, its retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide totalling $40.9 billion in 2013, up from $39.4 billion in 2012. Disney also ranks as one of the world’s leading fashion brands, with clothing ranges to suit every age-group from infants to teens to adults.
“We stock clothing that covers the entire Disney range at Annabelle, including old classics such as Winnie the Pooh and the latest Disney Pixar releases such as Tron and Cars. But we have a direct retail licence with DCP to develop our own collections featuring ladies’ and children’s nightwear and loungewear. So we use Disney’s extensive media centre and style guides to create extensive apparel collections for our customers – something for everyone in our stores, from kid’s pyjamas to ladies loungewear.” Gill explains.
“We were also awarded a licence by Marvel Entertainment recently to develop a range of boy’s nightwear and loungewear based on the brand’s comic and film characters. The Marvel portfolio includes some of the world’s best-loved super heroes, such as Spiderman, Iron Man, The Hulk Thor, X-Men and The Avengers,” he adds.