Malaysia Fashion Week takes centre stage

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Dresses at Intrade & MFW 2014 Hard Hat Tour

WITH Paris Fashion Week having ended just a fortnight ago, some of us may still be having the fashion-week “fever”. For the inaugural Malaysia Fashion Week (MFW), however, it is only just beginning.

Launched during Paris Fashion Week itself to herald the potential of Malaysia’s fashion industry as the “world’s next fashion destination”, seven local designers were handpicked to showcase their collections — Bon Zainal, Fairuz Ramdan, Melinda Looi, Khoon Hooi, Joe Chia, Hazree Wahid and Radzuan Radziwill.

The glamorous kick-start signals the four-fold collaborative effort between Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and fashion event organiser Stylo International. Supported by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti), MFW 2014 marks a significant government and private sector partnership.

MFW 2014 began last Friday and ends on Wednesday and it incorporates the annual International Trade Malaysia (Intrade). Matrade chief executive officer (CEO) and MFW chairman Dr Wong Lai Sum pointed out that the event “is aimed at positioning Malaysia as the region’s number one destination for leading fashion brands, accessories, textiles and lifestyle products”.

Now in its 8th edition, the Intrade exhibition at Menara Matrade, Kuala Lumpur, this year introduces a segment called Facit (Fashion, Art, Cosmetics, Interiors and Textile), which will be one of MFW’s special highlights to boost the lifestyle sector of the international trade event.

Comprising 412 booths with exhibitors from over 12 countries, the business-to-business driven event will also be open to the public on Wednesday from 2pm to 10pm.

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Yeoh (centre) and Matrade deputy CEO Susila Devi (second from left) at the media briefing last week.

On the fashion showcase side, Stylo International CEO and MFW co-chairwoman Datuk Nancy Yeoh introduced a Malaysia Fashion Showcase, which she told the media during a behind-the-scenes tour, was to aim the spotlight on emerging and leading designers.

This is in line with Yeoh’s plans for MFW 2014 to help develop and nurture local fashion talent, one of the ways being to feature student designers who are partly sponsored to showcase their collections.

Going beyond Malaysian designers, Stylo International’s long-time partner, Mercedes -Benz, will be co-hosting a Mercedes Benz Stylo Asia Fashion Week showcase, which will feature fashion designers from Asean and the wider Asian region.

The exclusive fashion show — ranked as the 30th official fashion week in the world — will take place tomorrow and on Wednesday at the Matrade hall. Some 65 designers from 15 countries, including Australia, Japan, Myanmar, the Philippines and of course, Malaysia will be featured.

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Some fresh faces from our local fashion scene include the likes of blogger-turned-fashion-maven Joyce Wong (of kinkybluefairy.net) and Sakura Malaysia (known for its one-of-a-kind bag creations). Not to be left out are the likes of award-winning menswear specialist, Joe Chia, who will represent Malaysia along with veteran Melinda Looi, as well as a host of other local designers: Yona, Amelia Hassan, Radzuan Radzwill, Illiza Ho, Kinslager, Hazree Wahid, Fairuz Ramdan, Cheetan, Su Gee, Bon Zainal and Max Mak. TV host and actress-cum-designer Sazzy Falak will also be showcasing her apparel on day two of the show.

International designers and labels that have made their way to MFW 2014 include Keraia and Chung Ting Liu (Taiwan), Stephany (India) and Pleatation (Singapore).

Undoubtedly, a special highlight will be Rafi Ridwan — an up-and-coming young designer who hails from Indonesia. Not letting his hearing disability undermine a bright future, the lad will be the youngest designer to showcase at age 12.

Islamic and cultural fashion will also take its place at MFW 2014, represented by the House of Sabah Batik as well as trendy “Muslimah” fashion and swimwear such as Pearl Haya and Saraya Zahret.

To top off the ambitious all-round fashion event, the digital frontier is also covered, as Asia’s top social media fashion app from Japan, WEAR, is also featured.

Nancy, who is also Mercedes-Benz Stylo Asian Fashion Week chairman and MFW co-chairman, said the digital frontier was not forgotten at Intrade and MFW, as for the first time in Malaysia, Asia’s top social media fashion app WEAR will be featured.

MFW is led by Wong as chairman and Yeoh as co-chairman. Miti secretary-general Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria is the adviser of MFW and Datuk Prof (Dr) Jimmy Choo is the honorary adviser. For more information, visit intrademalaysia.my and mbstyloafw.com or follow the social media pages by searching for Stylo International and MBStyloAFW on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 20, 2014.