By Yi Whan-woo
Three fashion designers ― Farhanna Pura of Brunei, Lia Mustafa of Indonesia and Paul Direk of Thailand ― say the past and present of Southeast Asians can be gleaned from fashion as much as from travel.
The three say this is because rich cultures and traditions are meticulously crafted to serve contemporary and up-to-date lifestyles of the people of the region.
Pura, Mustafa and Direk are among 10 Southeast Asian fashion designers who have been invited to the ASEAN Fashion Festival taking place June 15 at Seoul Plaza.
The seven others are Nou Veasna Alias Boranich of Cambodia, Somephone Phonepaseuth of Laos, Fairuz Ramdan of Malaysia, Ama Ma Pont of Myanmar, Lenora Luisa Cabili of the Philippines, Fock Ee-ling of Singapore and Do Trinh Hoai Nam of Vietnam.
The 10 were invited after their respective countries' embassies in Korea recommended them to organizers at the ASEAN-Korean Centre, a Seoul-based international organization mandated with promoting social and economic cooperation between ASEAN and Korea.
Featuring a fashion show, the festival will be the first fashion event here that will focus exclusively on Southeast Asian fashion.
It will be part of the ASEAN Week campaign, also to be held at Seoul Plaza in downtown Seoul from June 14 to 16. The three-day event is to raise awareness toward ASEAN on the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-Korea relations.
|Farhanna Pura of Brunei focuses up modesty for Muslim women's wear / ASEAN-Korean Centre|
Mustafa and Direk also had a separate email interview.
Mustafa said she wants to introduce the richness of Indonesian textiles and their motifs, adding Indonesia "wants to show that traditional cloth can be part of a dynamic and energetic youth fashion."
Direk said the ASEAN Fashion Festival will be "the chance to showcase the efficiency of Thai designers through my work for the Spring/Summer 2020 collection."
According to the ASEAN-Korean Centre, Koreans tend to associate Southeast Asian countries with traditional culture and that the festival may help deepen public understanding of contemporary ASEAN.
Pura will showcase clothes made of songket, a woven fabric originally for used for royal and formal clothes.
It uses threads of silver and gold that give a "luxury finer feel" and also it take months to weave each pattern.
|Lia Mustafa of Indonesia uses traditional Indonesian textiles and motifs for her design. / ASEAN-Korea Centre|
It is used for royal wedding dresses. But Pura has made designs with "a modern twist to traditional wear" for ordinary people's weddings.
Mustafa will promote contemporary designs using traditional fabrics ― lurik, kawung and sarong.
"I hope this dynamic and energetic design can appeal to the young people, who do not leave behind the cultural roots but still follow the fashion trends, have a noble heart built on the simplicity in the process of life, social interaction and in building their nation," she said.
Direk underscored his designs are "easy to wear" and that he has received good responses and support from customers in ASEAN countries.
Coming from Muslim countries, Pura and Mustafa said they hope to raise awareness toward Muslim women's fashion trends noted with modest designs.
"We have a growing number of modest fashion influencers around the world, whose designs show how to style clothing modestly and fashionably at the same time," Pura said.
She added the trend is even getting popular for non-Muslim women who want to cover their bodies.
|Paul Direk of Thailand underlines "easy to wear" design. / ASEAN-Korea Centre|
"Muslim fashion has become the current fashion trend, not only in Indonesia, but also in Western countries… Muslim fashion has inspired them, which they called 'modest' or 'decent' clothes, in the form of long-sleeved clothes without hijab or using a veil," she said.
She added this trend makes it necessary to invite Indonesian and other Muslim fashion designers to Korea.
In Thailand, fashion is inspired by the country's Thai handcrafts and textiles from natural fabrics, such as cotton, according to Direk.
The three designers said they hope to capitalize on ASEAN Fashion Festival to tap into the international market.
"I would love to collaborate with Korean designers and other ASEAN designers in any kind of projects," Pura said, adding the festival will be "fruitful" for her career.
According to Mustafa, Indonesia aims at becoming "one of the world's fashion meccas" and that she wants to "connect and cooperate with other ASEAN and Korean fashion designers."
Referring to his collaboration with an Austrian designer, Direk described fashion as "a bridge to strengthen a relationship between Korea and ASEAN countries" and that he would like to work with those designers accordingly.