Fashion enthusiasts with great penchant for tradition can look out for Tenun Fashion Week on Dec 3, which comes to life in the form of a runway show after its successful virtual showcase from October 15 to 17. Even though the event will be held in Sarawak only at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, fans of weaving and handicraft can still view it via a live stream on YouTube and Facebook at 7.30pm.
Organised by ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA) and Tanoti, the fashion show will highlight 35 weaving communities from Malaysia and around the region such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. The collections will mostly feature pieces produced on handlooms as well as techniques handed down from generation to generation.
Look out for pua kumbu pieces that are exquisitely made by the Iban community from Rumah Gare, or seek out the traditional backstrap weaving by Laos-based The Weaving Sisters. Those seeking to add to their Indonesian textile collection should not miss the offerings by TORAJAMELO, a community that seeks to end the cycle of poverty and violence suffered by indigenous women by creating a market for their traditional wares.
ASEAN weavers may not enjoy the same limelight as their foreign counterparts due to a lack of exposure. To create more awareness about these weavers and perpetuate their relevance in modern fashion, Maybank Foundation — through its Maybank Women Eco-Weavers programme — and Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak are supporting Tenun Fashion Week in their cause to preserve local crafts. The former has been aiding women weavers from marginalised communities by offering training and capacity building workshops.
"We were also aware that there were limited platforms for weaving communities in ASEAN to reach their desired markets, especially after a prolonged pandemic. The pitch for Tenun Fashion Week came at a right time, and all parties were happy that the project manifested many wishes," says Jacqueline Fong, director of Tanoti.
"Sarawak has over 40 sub-ethnic groups, and each one having their own ancestral skills and many having access to materials for crafting within their own environment. That makes Sarawak intrinsically very rich and highly purists in craft traditions. Craft producers do not generally possess the capabilities or have budgets to market and brand their products beyond their normal buyer demographics, but we are slowly and surely getting noticed. Indeed, Sarawak is well placed to brand itself the centre of traditional handicrafts in Malaysia.”
Apart from the main show, there will be other programmes on the agenda too including a musical performance produced using weaving instruments entitled Weaver’s Anthem; story reading, and announcement of recipients of the three awards: TENUN Best Collection Award, Lakumas Most Innovative Weavers Award and People’s Choice Award.
Online sales of the collections can be made here.