Among the designs produced by local fashion designers. Image: Wardi Wasil

A group of local fashion designers has banded together to create the Fashion Designers Alliance with hopes to elevate the local fashion industry collectively as marketable businesses that are sustainable both within and outside of Brunei.

The newly-formed alliance brought together individuals from various backgrounds, achievements and specialties in an effort to unite and develop the local fashion industry.

“Brunei is well known to have good food, the wedding business is thriving however with fashion being one of the largest industries in the world, it is a market that is partially untapped, not by international designers, but local designers,” said the alliance representative, Farhanna Pura.

“With the formation of the alliance, it is high time for Bruneian designers to shine and show our capabilities,” she continued.

According to Farhanna, who is also the designer behind Brunei fashion brand, Na Forrér, one of the intended impacts of the alliance’s formation is to progress the industry’s ecosystem and heighten the perception of value for Bruneian made fashion in the local and international spheres.

Fashion Designers Alliance representative Farhanna Pura speaking during the showcase. Image: Wardi Wasil

“The current local mindset on fashion is equivalent to just your next-door tailor who does your baju melayu and kurung for $12,” she said, noting Bruneians’ habit of spending on online clothing from international fashion brands.

“So why couldn’t we do the same by marketing and positioning ourselves so that the transaction stays in Brunei?”, added the designer.

For the Fashion Designers Alliance, this can be achieved by firstly establishing “a common bond between designers” especially with those that are new to the scene or “are still trying to find their identity in this industry”.

By doing this, local designers would have a platform to support each other and promote healthy competition, but most importantly, the alliance would enable designers to share resources and help one another through their established supply chains respectively.

“I know that my fellow designers would agree that starting up has been difficult, especially since many of us had started from ground zero without any help or even a form of fashion education,” explained Farhanna.

Among the designs produced by local fashion designers. Image: Wardi Wasil

Speaking on the current state of Brunei’s fashion ecosystem, she believed that aspects of it are already in place, such as clothing manufacturers and tailors, that are fully capable of catering to the needs of the industry.

“You just need to find the good ones (tailors, manufacturers). The inexperienced ones just need to build their skills and have more exposure,” she explained, adding that Na Forrér is also actively working towards this.

“We have a dressmaker who is teaching interested locals to sew (so that) later they will be able to work for a designer,” she added.

This, however, she went on to say, is only a small chunk of the skills needed to truly create a strong and sustainable ecosystem for the local fashion industry, highlighting the importance of fashion or creative media, especially in this age of social media.

“Fashion, one of the biggest industries in the world is an ecosystem of its own from designers that do fashion and textile, jewellery, shoes and handbags, down to the manufacturers, suppliers, photographers, make-up artist, models and agencies, trend analysts, influencers, bloggers, the list goes on,” she said.

“It is high time that Brunei is able to create jobs based on this industry as well as not being overly dependent on imports,” she added.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin (C) as the guest of honour during the Fashion Designers Alliance fashion showcase with the alliance’s representative Farhanna Pura (L) in a group photo. Image: Wardi Wasil

In commemoration of the formation of the Fashion Designers Alliance, a fashion showcase was organised recently at the Karya Kitani Boutique in Jerudong.

The showcase displayed various pieces from womenswear to traditional menswear participated by designers; Na Forrér, Mahkota Designs, XOIA, Chantique, Little Dayang, Tapih Rancung, Rebels and Queens, Paperplane and TheaSeera.

Collectively, members of the alliance have won the Islamic Designs and Fashion Council Award in Dubai, have participated in international fashion shows abroad, featured in British Vogue, while some of the designers will be participating in the upcoming ASPARA Fashion Week via a virtual fashion show.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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