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Masidi's dare to local fashion designers

Published on: Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun on Sunday threw a challenge to local fashion designers - design fashion based on local ethnic motifs that are wearable daily and at the same time sought-after throughout the world.

He said Sabah has the best of local motifs, judging by the rich cultural heritage including traditional designs of 32 local ethnic groups it has, believing these can be modernised and made as the basis for high-end fashion.

"I think we need to perhaps look at the rich cultural heritage that we have in terms of design like that of the Murut, Rungus and so on, which are very beautifulÉthe challenge is how to transfer the cultural design into something that wearable daily and at the same time become much sought-after designs in the world," he said.

"That is how we would be able to compete with the rest of the world, in terms of fashion.

"I believe the motifs of Sabahan ethnic groups can be modernised to become the basis for high-quality fashion that can be recognised throughout the worldÉwe have 32 ethnic groups in Sabah who have their own unique cultural heritage including motif, only that we need to translate them into something that can be accepted internationally," he added.

Masidi told reporters this after he attended as guest of honour at the RJ Couture "Ready-To-Wear" fashion show at the Magellan Sutera here.

On promoting Sabah as a fashion show destination, Masidi said: "We need to be honest about where we are the moment. We have yet to break the level, probably can attract the best in the fashion industry (to come to Sabah).

"But tonight is actually the beginning to it. Over time, the works of our local designers would be recognised throughout the worldÉwhen the time comes, maybe they would be able to converge here to hold such an event like the KL Fashion Week."

"But I think we will need to go step by step. But I am sure there will be a time when we can say that Sabah is also as good as anybody else including in terms of fashion industry," he said.

Congratulating Datuk Rahmahjan Khan for the fashion show displaying her RJ Couture and Jkhan collection which are homegrown names that have penetrated the international fashion design market, Masidi said he believed in future the shopping industry for branded fashion can be made as another tourism product for Sabah.

"If we can develop this properly definitely Sabah can become another shopping destination for branded fashion Émany Malaysian fashion designers have made it globally, including Rahmahjan who I believe would attract others to emulate her move," he said.

He hoped those doing so would strive on to achieve their ambition and not easily give up in facing great competition. Masidi during the event had also conveyed to Rahmahjan his wish that she would also assist in promoting the local traditional motifs as basis for her future designs.

Rahmahjan, meanwhile, said she would seek the collaboration of Sabah Tourism Board (STB) in turning Masidi's aspiration into a reality, while promising to try her best to have such incorporation in her future designs and fashion show, here and outside the country.

"I treat this as a challenge and accept it," he said, adding her products especially handbag collections, locally and internationally, are doing well despite the economic uncertainty, particularly in Europe," she said.

Some 60 of her dress and handbag collections were displayed during the event.