Abang Johari: Be bold in giving new life to traditional fashion

Abang Johari (right) admiring the work of a designer being exhibited at the forum. Also seen is Ong.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Nov 8: Young designers and artists must be bold in exploring new frontiers in the fashion industry and give new verve to the traditional designs and cultural identity.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said over the years, Sarawak has seen a resurgence of local crafts and traditional designs.

Government agencies and NGOs are working with the local communities to evolve and mondernise traditional crafts into products that appeals to the trend in the global market.

He cited collaborations with the Penan in their basketry, the Malay ‘kain songket’ and ‘keringkam’, which has been revived with innovative weaving, as well as the Orang Ulu beads work to become fashion accessories.

“When it comes to dresses and cultural identity, it is timely to explore this topic at this time and age.

“In Sarawak, our communities are concerned about this and several forums have been held to discuss the matter. It is going to be very interesting to hear from our international speakers about this subject.

“What constitutes a people’s (costume) or national costume has always been debatable,” he said when opening the World Crafts Cities Network Forum and the 10th Biennial World Eco Fiber and Textile Forum at the new Sarawak Museum complex, here, today.

The forum from Nov 8-10 attracted delegates, fashion designers and international players from 20 countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Oman, Iran, Japan, United States, China, Thailand, Laos, United Kingdom and Australia

The forum is looking to discuss on global network, sharing experiences and established cooperation on the role to promote crafts in tourism, culture, education and economic activities.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Society Atelier Sarawak president Edric Ong, who is also president of the Asean Handicraft Promotion and Development, were present. — DayakDaily