Tanoti – A Beautiful Story From Sarawak

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The rich brocade tapestry that Tanoti is weaving is not your grandmother’s songket. The hand-threaded treasures from the Sarawak-based boutique songket atelier preserves its culture and heritage, but it also melds science with traditional art to bring about a much needed innovation for the 21st century. Their goal? To make songket a luxurious fashion fabric while retaining its soul.

Tanoti is a community of female artisans who are fine-tuning the art of this traditional handicraft for contemporary times. Established in 2012, the brand which had its starts in 2008 under the Tuanku Nur Zahirah Foundation of the ex-Malaysian Queen, has gone on to win the World Craft Council Award of Excellence 2014 and 2016. Not only is it preserving the ancient art of songket weaving, it has also empowered rural womenfolk with skills to generate viable income.

In conjunction with Tanoti’s debut at Malaysia Fashion Week, we spoke to the Director of Tanoti, Ms. Jacqueline Fong, and the Creative and Technical Director of Tanoti,

Associate Professor Dr June Ngo from the Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak for an insider’s glimpse into the brand.

Tell us the story behind your design inspiration.

Tanoti’s collection at the Malaysian Fashion Week (MFW) 2016 Global Launch in Paris is called ‘Luminesque’, a projection of glow and radiance. Gemstone motifs like sapphire, citrine, diamonds, peridot, sandstones and aquamarine, flirt with the finest silk and dance with shimmery beads to emit luminescence from within in this exciting range of Luminesque shawls, collars and necklaces.

Who are your inspirations or role-models in the industry?

The idea of adding more dimensions and turning songket into exclusive fashion-wear for formal occasions is mainly inspired by the Nuno textiles created by the NUNO Corporation from Japan. By fusing science and technology into the Japanese traditional textiles, the NUNO Corporation has successfully created a range of innovative textiles.  

Based on the same principles, we have produced our Luminesque Collection which showcases our success in manipulating and exploiting the relationship between textile design and science to produce exquisite and high quality songket applicable to contemporary fashion.

Why is it important for you to manifest your heritage in your design?

Women of the younger generation are no longer interested in songket weaving as it is thought to be time-consuming and boring. Besides that, some weavers have stopped weaving after marriage while some have moved to the city hoping to land a better job. The rise of songket production costs due to price increment of silk, cotton yarns, dyes, and the metallic threads have affected the demand of songket as well.

The art of weaving songket may one day diminish. It is crucial to find ways of educating the younger generation and to innovate the process of songket weaving from traditional songket to contemporary songket weaving so that more interesting songket products can be produced to cater to today’s market.

We feel that there is a need for new dedicated songket weavers to give the craft of songket weaving a new zest of life. Hence, it is important to think of various approaches to value-add and innovate the Malaysian songket to broaden its usage to cater to today’s local and international market. For example, the traditional use of metallic threads in songket render the fabric rather stiff thereby causing it to be rather uncomfortable to be worn. So, its usage is limited. It is a pity that such a beautiful and unique fabric is not popularised as quality fashion-wear that can be worn on all occasions.

In order for songket to increase its usage as quality fashion fabrics and to capture a broader market base, it has to be innovated and transformed into a more comfortable songket as light-weight songket for apparel use.

Do you face any challenges in promoting your design inside and outside of Malaysia?

Yes, we do. The cost of producing a songket shawl is high as it is handwoven and depending on the types of threads, complexity of the designs and textile techniques used, the duration taken to complete a shawl will take at least 5 weeks or longer to complete it. Thus, songket shawls are premium and considered luxury products, a very niche market due to the high cost of production.

How receptive is your design outside of Malaysia? 

During the 2-day exhibition at the Maria Callas Suite at Hilton Paris Opera, we received very positive feedbacks especially regarding the textile designs and colours used for our collection. We received comments that our products are suitable for South of France e.g. Cannes. One potential buyer has advised us to use cashmere wool instead of silk threads.

What do you observe in the fashion design trend among Malaysian fashion designers?

There is a trend where Malaysian designers are using traditional handcrafted fabrics such as batik and songket fabrics in their fashion outfits. For example, during the Malaysian Fashion Week (MFW) 2016 Global Launch in Paris, fashion designers such as Bill Keith, Bon Zainal and Toi, used songket in their clothing line and Sakura, a Malaysian handbag brand used Tekad in their collection.

What is your objective in using MFW as platform for your brand?

As a songket atelier, we are grateful to MFW for the opportunity to expose songket to the world of high fashion. MFW provides Tanoti with the platform to debut our contemporary songket collection Luxe Handwoven; and offers us access to the relevant audience for our products, both locally and globally – from media to buyers to designers.

What do you say to the younger generation of fashion designers?

We hope to inspire many more students, young designers and songket weavers to value and cherish our cultural heritage by playing a more participatory role in preserving the craft of songket weaving.

We are proud to be able to present Tanoti to the global market and wish Tanoti all the best in their endeavours. You can learn more about Tanoti at http://tanoticrafts.com/.

Watch a designer’s imagination come to live through the collaboration between Epson and Toi – The Dressmaker.

homepage_1_1In the world of fashion, there’s a disruption happening. Although fashion traditionally treasures centuries-old cultivated practices passed down from master craftsmen, it has been unable to stay unaffected by the rise of technology that has revolutionised the way humans work.

In an age of 3D printing, virtual reality gaming, and social media livestreaming, where living is seamless and seemingly limitless, it’s no wonder that the classic world of fashion is also getting an upgrade. And there’s no better place to witness it than at Malaysia Fashion Week 2016.

Toi – The Dressmaker is a bridge line of Zang Toi, New York. Presenting for the first time at the Malaysia Fashion Week, Toi – The Dressmaker collection for Spring/Summer 2017 will feature a special dedication to women empowerment. Toi – The Dressmaker will showcase 18 looks of women in power suits for day and Epson digital textile print for cocktail and evening pieces.

1. A Fashion Line Melding The Past And The Present

Toi – the Dressmaker collection takes inspiration from Zang Toi’s New York Spring/Summer 1990 collection with the theme of traditional Malaysian heritage. There will be a total of 18 looks, showcasing a woman’s power suit for day to cocktail and evening pieces. Six pieces were custom-created to include unique wayang kulit prints that were digitally printed by the Epson SureColor F series printer.

2. No A4 Papers Allowed Near This Printer

In the past, creating prints would be done through the silk-screening process, which is costly, labour-intensive and limited to just six to eight colours. But through digital textile printing, designers can select patterns and fabrics to be printed easily in small runs with no constraints to design or colour.

“Working with the Epson digital dye sublimation printer was truly exciting. It’s just amazing that the machine uses the silk screen technique but works more like a photocopy machine,” said Zang Toi.

3. Toi – the Dressmaker and Epson Collaboration Marks The Future

“This collaboration will stand for unrivaled glam and unrelenting approach to perfection and craftsmanship. Life with technology has never been more fashionable,” added Toi.

The ease of digital textile printers allow designers to have an unprecedented level of control in producing their designs. Now able to have a quicker turnaround time with no compromise to quality, designers at Helmut Lang have used their own photographs of unlikely-sounding inspirations like subway walls and peeling paint, to create unique, abstract designs for the brand’s collection of tops and dresses.

The sky is the limit with this new technology, and Zang Toi is ready to fashion a new world together with Epson.

Come witness this cutting-edge fashion collaboration this 5 November at MFW2016. You can register for your free ticket to Toi – The Dressmaker fashion show at the registration counter at MFW2016. Tickets are given on a first come first serve basis.

Epson will also be providing live demos at their booth (B-51, Hall B) where you can experience their amazing digital textile printers and capabilities first hand.

There will also be exclusive limited edition Zang Toi t-shirts printed using Epson F2000 Direct-To- Garment printer for lucky visitors!

Register now for your free pass to Malaysia Fashion Week 2016 here.

Designers, we got the scoop on what buyers are looking for

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To the masses, Fashion Weeks are all about stunning couture, divine models, and mermerising stage set up. To the designers however, Fashion Week is serious business, one that could make or break their career. During Fashion Week, the most important group of people they need to impress, are the Fashion Buyers.

To the masses, Fashion Weeks are all about stunning couture, divine models, and mermerising stage set up. To the designers however, Fashion Week is serious business, one that could make or break their career. During Fashion Week, the most important group of people they need to impress, are the Fashion Buyers.

So who are these Fashion Buyers and what exactly do they do?

Fashion Buyers observe and predict new trends in the fashion industry. They will travel the world to visit trade fairs and fashion shows to make buying decisions on behalf of their brands.

Fashion Buyers will need to buy collections which are not only trendy, but appealing to their consumers – and at the same time, try to stay ahead of the trend.

Designers will need to impress Fashion Buyers during their shows at Fashion Weeks to secure sales for their collection.

Raschelle Lang, buyer at Isetan Singapore

Raschelle Lang, buyer at Isetan Singapore

“I look at a designer’s enthusiasm to forge a working relationship. I like designers who are humble and willing to listen to advice to work towards understanding our target customers.” – Raschelle Lang

To help designers prepare for the upcoming Malaysia Fashion Week 2016, we’ve gotten in touch with Raschelle Lang, a Ladies Wear Buyer for Young Adults from Isetan (Singapore) to learn what she’s looking for in a designer and his/her collection which will affect her buying decisions.

Q: What is your role as a buyer in Isetan.

I work with many different local and overseas suppliers. Every half a year, I would discuss about the upcoming key trends and fashion direction with my designers/consignment suppliers, in order for them to prepare the merchandise in advance for the next season. I also travel to Japan to attend trade exhibitions, exchange global information and purchase stocks for my stores. Other than that, I also plan for upcoming promotions and events pertaining to my department on a monthly basis as well as external events.

Q: What are the key things designers should pay attention to in order to meet buyers’ expectation? During a fashion show, how do you decide if a collection or a designer is worth pursuing? 

Designers should know that buyers are very aggressive about sales figures. Working for departmental stores, ready-to- wear collection is very important for me to push to my customers. The designs must be realistic, in-trend and suitable for the locals. On top of that, I’ll get a few pieces of avant-garde designs to entice customers who are just passing by to take a second look.

Q: Besides the designs, what other traits do you look for in a designer before deciding if you would like to work with them?

“I look at a designer’s enthusiasm to forge a working relationship. I like designers who are humble and willing to listen to advice to work towards understanding our target customers.”  I’ve met a lot of local independent designers and when they are keen, I’ve shown them around the different stores and inform them about our customers’ behaviors so they can get something suitable for me. It is also important for them to spend some time to educate me on their product information, coordination, and display setup.

Q: Any tips to our designers on how to make a lasting impression during a buyer’s meeting? 

The most important factor we look at would be your collections. But of course, if you are good at interpersonal relationships and able to make good conversations, it’ll create a good lasting impression.


For designers who are up for the challenge to showcase their collection to international buyers, register now for the upcoming Malaysia International Fashion Week this 2 – 5 November at Public Visitors.

Malaysia Fashion Week also has an exclusive signature one-on- one business matching meetings between designers and international buyers called International Sourcing Programme which gives designers a chance to connect and impress international buyers on a more personal basis. You don’t want to miss this opportunity!

For the public who wants a taste of an international fashion week up close, register now for entry at Public Visitors.

For Designers & Exhibitors Please Register here.

A Day In The Life Of A Runway Model

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With their beautiful faces made up and lithe bodies clad in the most expensive brands, it’s easy to buy into the belief that models lead an easy glamorous life. Having already won the genetic pool, they merely need to pout and strike a pose, as the glossy pages of fashion magazines and sky-high billboards seem to portray.

But behind the camera and off the runway, is an intense dedication and fierce competition in a notoriously fickle industry. Models train and fine-tune their walk, bodies and poses as if it were an Olympic sport, but unlike athletes, they rarely receive the same respect and recognition. We spoke to three working models, known simply by their stage names, Soo Xuze, Vika and Eleen Y, to get a look behind the perfect pout and the surprising double lives they lead.

Describe what a typical day is like for you.

Vika (V): Sometimes it is slow and relaxing. Other times it can be pretty hectic with back to back shoots and shows.

Eleen (E): I always start my day with a shower and a good breakfast. Sometimes I also do some stretches and exercise in the morning. If I’m free at night, I will go to a hotel lounge or good coffee places with a relaxing live jazz band, and read some books before I go to bed. On the occasion I have to standby for the whole day, I have a habit of using my phone to check the stock market, currency, gold price and property market.

How do you seek to promote and further improve yourself?

S: I promote myself through social media and improve myself by researching and practicing before jobs. I also try to learn from every job I’ve done. V: The main thing in our business is to be seen. To promote myself, I have to go to fashion events and meet people. Photographers and makeup artists have to remember models for future jobs.

E: I promote myself through social media as I believe it is a platform where I can reach many people personally. I also build quality relationships through networking. I try to read a book, when I have difficulties in certain area. Regardless if it’s a matter of emotion or skill, I can easily get advice from books.

What are some of the challenges you face?

S: Figuring out different ways to socialise and deal with different clients.

E: For me, modeling is a very challenging career and the life span of a model is limited. First, I need to plan my finances well because it’s not everyday there are jobs as some periods are very quiet in the fashion industry. Therefore, it trains me to prioritise and save my expenditure. I also learned how to invest my money so that I can have some passive income. Second, I need to keep my body and skin healthy, slim and young. Sometimes it can be stressful because I need to think twice before I eat or drink something, and I also need to exercise regularly.

What motivates you in your career?

S: I enjoy new challenges from different jobs.

V: Competition and money motivates me. Haha! I am passionate about my job and that generally motivates me, as well as the strive to achieve success in whatever I do.

E: I like to push myself to become stronger and better so that I am able to give and help more people. I believe that everyone has their own value in life, and paired with purpose and human force, it is something very powerful.

Do you have other jobs on the side?

S: Besides modeling and acting, I also help my parents with the family business.

V: No. At the moment, I’m focused just on modeling work. But I’m also very fond of sports.

E: Yes, I teach catwalk and I have my own health and beauty business.

Catch the models in action at Malaysian Fashion Week from 2 to 5 November 2016! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates, and register for the event here.

Fashion and Faith: A Look at Muslimah Fashion Around the World.

There’s a new fashion trend taking over the world, one layer at a time. It’s not particularly showy, but it’s bursting with style, much to the fashion crowd’s delight.

Thanks to Instagram accounts like @hijabfashion, which boasts 2.3 million followers, and Tumblr tags like ‘muslimah fashion’, modest dressing is in its well-deserved place in the spotlight

Muslim Fashion

Photo: Yoray Liberman/Getty Images

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Photo: Mariah Idrissi

Muslimah fashion can be defined as a dress style typically worn by Muslim women. There aren’t many rules to it apart from the emphasis on the hijab, the headscarf, and clothing that usually covers the skin, for modesty. With only those two guidelines to adhere to, it’s no wonder that woman across the world have had a colourful time expressing their style.

Check out how modest dressing has been interpreted as it travels across the continents and taking into account each country’s nuances.

Europe
The rich history and secular culture of Europe has led to a varied take on modest fashion. Whether it’s reflecting the sunny beaches of Barcelona, or the creative streets of London, Muslimah fashion in Europe can best be described by one word – bold.

Colour and prints grab the eye through layering, for instance an oversized boyfriend button up top worn under a fur gilet over a pair of skinny jeans tucked into boots. Clothes usually skim the body without highlighting any specific area in a style illusion that perfectly encapsulates how modest dressing doesn’t just mean baggy unflattering silhouettes.

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Photograph: PR

The collaboration between popular London-based Muslim style blogger Hana Tajima with Uniqlo has further raised the profile of hijab fashion across the world.

Middle East

As one of the highest earning continents and largest consumers of fashion, women in the Middle East sway towards luxury fashion. Muslimah fashion in the Middle East may tend to be more conservative, focusing on looser forms that don’t frame the body, but the attention is in the accessories, particularly if they’re gold, chunky and… branded.

Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana made news in 2016 when they announced they were producing a collection of hijabs and abayas targeted to Muslim customers in the Middle East. The clothes will be created with modesty in mind, but still pack the flair of a typical D&G collection with jewel-encrusted embellishments and only the highest quality fabric used. The international brand may be the first to incorporate Muslimah fashion to their main collections, but they certainly won’t be the last!

USA

Modest dressing in America has similar shades of creative layering as seen in Europe with the pairing of a boxy or billowy top with more form-fitting bottoms. What’s unique about the American take on Muslimah fashion is the varied styles borrowed from mainstream fashion from each coast. For instance, when it comes to topping off a look, Californians include a denim jacket, while New Yorkers will reach for a leather biker jacket instead.

Given the lack of specialised Muslimah fashion boutiques in America, locals have taken to mixing and matching high street brands for a modern take on a traditional outlook. The result is effortless while still being modest. Brands have also taken note of the growing trend with Swedish high-street brand H&M scouting and including a Muslim model in their 2015 ‘Close The Loop’ campaign.

Asia

With Indonesian designers like Dian Pelangi and Malaysian songstress Yuna being top Asian influencers, Muslimah style is at its richest in Asia.

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Facebook: Dian Pelangi

From traditional clothing to a genderless avant-garde collection, there is a wide range of influences to draw from and remix. What is favoured is usually a loose-fitting combo, both top and bottom, that is cinched in the waist. Whether it’s the pairing of a long sleeve top tucked into palazzo pants or a maxi skirt, or a traditional baju kebaya, this style trick is a classic.

At this year’s Malaysian Fashion Week, Muslimah fashion will be in the spotlight at the MODFASH@INTRADE fashion pavilion. This platform will showcase modest clothing by local and international designers from Indonesia, Brunei and others. Find out more about this initiative by MATRADE and STYLO here.

7 Malaysian Designers You Didn’t Know Are On World Stage.

Fashion is a universal language and one that speaks of craft, innovation and creativity. As the fashion scene in Malaysia grows rapidly, so does the list of designers whose designs speak volumes. Our homegrown talents have managed to make an impact internationally, and here are 7 of them that you absolutely need to know about!

1. Jo Disaya

When the words rebellious and quirky come to mind in the fashion scene, Jo Disaya is no stranger. With her unique take on fashion incorporating structure as well as a blend of the modern androgyny look, there’s no wonder that this brand has expanded to many countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, and most impressively at Tranoï, Paris!

2. Blancheur by Datin Haslinda Rahim

This brand is a game changer in Muslimah fashion. Focusing on showcasing how versatile muslimah wear is and how it can be both modern and chic, Blancheur is the brand that proves modesty can be modern too. With its wide range of choices and array of colours, it’s no wonder why this designer is making waves in the world stage. The most promising entrance being China and Dubai.

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3. Joe Chia

Joe Chia was a recipient of Asia’s Most Influential Designer by Mercedes-Benz STYLO Asia Fashion Week in 2013. It’s been uphill from there as his designs speak volume of his creativity and his understanding of fashion. This designer has presented his collections in Jakarta, Manila, Tokyo, Milan, and Moscow, and is now making his presence felt in Paris, the capital city of fashion.

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4. Ainee Suhaidi

Another designer that focuses on modesty yet able to take it to different dimensions is Ainee Suhaidi. Having just recently featured her collection in the prestigious Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada, she also showcased her work in Istanbul Modest Fashion Week. Practical, sensible with a hint of edge and boldness, Ainee designs clothes that she personally believes in and would wear as a modern day woman.

5. Yii

Yii, who joined Malaysia Fashion Week in 2014 kept moving up the fashion scale and was invited to participate in ON-OFF, a showcase for new talent in London Fashion Week in 2015. Yii lets his inner child out when it comes to designing, keeping it simplistic with clean lines and adding touches of fantasies to bring life to his creations. His designs are based on how kids would be inspired by their surroundings instead of looking at it from an adult's point of view.

6. Fairuz Ramdan

Inspired by the immaculate suits his father wore and dresses from his mother, Fairuz was no stranger to fashion. Having had an early taste of fashion and falling in love with it, there’s no questioning how this designer has had his ready to wear designs enter China, through Parkson. Fairuz continues to work his magic as he gets local, as well as international recognition for his work.

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7. Jimmy Wong

When it comes to clean designs, with sleek silhouettes in minimalistic white, Jimmy Wong is the go to designer. Setting a tone of confidence and style with his designs, the brand speaks for itself without having to try too hard. Jimmy Wong has showcased his work in MFW and is now on set in Beijing shooting for a reality show called “屋里变”aka Room Transformation - a show where each interior designer is assigned to a celebrity’s room and the mission is to transform it.

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These designers all started from home, Malaysia, where the fashion scene keeps growing. This year at Malaysia Fashion Week 2016, there will be over 100 designers from all over the world including Australia, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam to name a few. Ranging from ready to wear, modest fashion, to couture and high street clothing, as well as giving us a taste of indigenous designs and culture, MFW 2016 is definitely an event not to be missed out on for any aspiring designer and fashion enthusiast!

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates, and register for the event here.

 

MFW2016 Is Returning & Here’s 3 Things You Absolutely Can’t Miss!

Get ready for the grand return of Malaysia Fashion Week this November! Happening from 2 to 5 November 2016, revel in design and style as they take center stage at the Matrade Exhibition Convention Center (MECC).

Over one hundred designers from Malaysia and abroad will showcase their talents over the four days at Malaysia Fashion Week 2016 (MFW2016) and everyone is invited to come witness this celebration of style. Whether you’re a design student, a foreign traveller, or a local Malaysian seeking to explore a whole new trendy side of the city, here’s three reasons why you must not miss the 2016 edition of this annual fashion fiesta.

1 – Backstage Action Like Never Before

With designs of incredible talents from Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, Indonesia, India as well as fashion capitals of the world like Korea and Australia exhibited at the event, it’s safe to say MFW2016 is bringing the ‘action’, to lights, camera, action!

Given the wide array of designers, you can expect a host of Spring/Summer 2017 styles to find inspiration from at the Trade Fashion Showcase, ranging from ready-to- wear, high street trends, to the rising modest fashion trends.

Prepare for a dose of culture as indigenous designs take the runway next to couture creations over a range of menswear, womenswear, and accessories. The designs will take to the runway from 3 November onwards, so don’t forget to register online for your passes here!

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Best of all, for the first time ever in Malaysia, you will get to witness the backstage frenzy through the specially-created aquarium-styled backstage cube! Have a real-time behind-the- scenes view to one of the most exciting fashion events in the country.

2 – Shopping Haven

Where there is fashion, there is shopping. The hotly anticipated PMO Sale will be happening on the grounds of MFW2016 with up to 80% discount for branded local and international items throughout the event. You won’t be going home empty-handed!

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You also do not want to miss the Lifestyle & Fashion Trade Exhibition where international apparel and jewellery, to curated home and interiors, as well as artisanal art and handicrafts will take over 10,000 square metres of dedicated space for you to shop to your heart’s content.

Amid the shopping, don’t forget to visit the tribute gallery highlighting the beautiful work of industry stalwarts, Professor Datuk Dr. Jimmy Choo, OBE; New York Fashion Week-regular Zang Toi; and the previous works of Mercedez-Benz STYLO Asia Fashion Week Award Winners. View the amazing works by emerging talents in the industry exhibited at the showcase too. If you’re lucky, you may even get to meet the young designers!

3 – Get A Selfie With Professor Datuk Dr. Jimmy Choo, OBE

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You know the name, and you’ve seen his shoes. MFW2016 is your chance to catch the legend in action and possibly, even have a conversation with! Known to be extremely friendly and obliging for selfie requests, Prof. Datuk Dr. Jimmy Choo will be visiting the fashion shows and trade exhibition throughout the week. So get hunting with your cameras and don’t miss your chance to meet this living and breathing international fashion icon!

An event not to be missed

MFW2016 will be 4 action-packed days of style coming alive. But apart from the three highlights listed, there’s also a lot more activities on the plate. For traders, fashion buyers or simply those interested in learning more about fashion buying opportunities, the International Sourcing Program will be right up your alley. With unfettered access to the best offerings from Malaysia and around the world, the wares displayed are your gold. In 2015, over RM100 million changed hands between buyers and the trade participants, a triumphant mark that the regional fashion industry is alive and well.

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Last but not least, pick up a new skill at the make-up and styling workshops available at MFW2016. It’s a chance to try out a new look under the guidance of industry experts, a unique opportunity to try your hand at being creative.

Stay tuned for more updates of the exciting annual style and fashion fest here, and on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!