The songket is normally reserved for ceremonial occasions such as royal installations and Malay weddings but for local fashion designer Fuad Gapor, he is bringing those traditions to the modern audience.
The homegrown designer recently unveiled his new line of modern-heritage apparel dubbed the “Songket Bomber”, putting a refreshing spin on the traditional songket combining the modern silhouettes of the iconic bomber jacket.
Shimmering in gold and silver thread, the zipper-front jacket embodies the juxtaposition between tradition and modernity with its striking symmetrical and geometric pattern.
While the influence of the traditional Malay fabric is refreshing, the pieces also displayed the functionality of a jacket with a contemporary front zipper, a mandarin collar that also resembles the “cara melayu” design and two slash front pockets giving it an edgier look for customers who are looking to make a strong fashion statement.
The Songket Bomber collection which comes in blue, grey, red and green certainly speaks a lot about Fuad as a designer — one who is not afraid to step out of his comfort zone.
“I wanted to do something out-of-the-box and I thought of giving the songket a modern twist. So, I came up with the fusion of my favourite bomber jacket design and the beautiful patterns of the songket”, he shared.
According to Fuad, although the Malay songket may come at an expensive price, the craftsmanship and quality are what attracted him to fabric in the first place.
It is a reminder of the intricate art of weaving that was perfected and refined throughout the ages, he said.
For the designer, cultural elements have always appealed to him especially the songket; its intricate patterns, full floral arrangement, (susunan bunga penuh), scattered floral arrangement (susunan bunga bertabur) that symbolises the strong history and culture of Brunei.
The fashionpreneur hopes to represent the beauty and vibrancy of traditional fabric in a way that encourages people to embrace and celebrate the history and culture behind it.
Fuad shared that the works of Malaysian fashion designers were also one of his biggest sources of inspiration.
He explained that his collection was largely influenced by Dato Rizalman Ibrahim’s creative vision that celebrates both the classics and contemporary.
Fighting stigma with style
Starting his own fashion line was always thought for the budding fashion designer. Fuad discovered his growing desire for fashion when he was flipping through magazines but was not quite sure how he could turn his passion into a career.
He graduated with a certificate in Information Technology from Micronet International College in 2017 and over the last few years, he found it difficult to land a job. Then, he decided to look into his growing passion for fashion.
The 25-year-old was not exposed to fashion and had no prior experience with creating his own line but with the help of a local platform for designers, Karya Kitani.
That dream became a reality when he launched his very own first line, the “Songket Bomber” in February at Al-Afiah Hotel.
The collection is not just a milestone for the up-and-coming fashion brand but it also represents his new-found confidence towards reaching his desired goal as a fashion designer.
Moreover, what’s keeping him motivated are his former history teacher and founder of Little Dayang, Noor Efah Hj Emran and owner of Karya Kitani, Md Shahrul Azri Ramlan who are his biggest supporters and would help him look for fabric and materials.
But the process of making his ambition did not come without its challenges. Fuad recalled the trial and errors he faced to set up his own business.
For the fashionpreneur, the biggest challenge that he faced was the stigma attached to people with disabilities.
The negative stigma surrounding people with disabilities is still very much embedded in society, he shared.
“I want to change that (negative stigma) and prove to people that disability is not an inability,’’ said Fuad, who has lived with Cerebral Palsy since birth.
To overcome these challenges, he pushes himself every day to practice and learn more about fashion and design. Occasionally he would watch YouTube channels for extra support and guidance.
Furthermore, aspiring to establish himself in the local fashion scene, Fuad looks forward to the challenges that come ahead with a desire to grow his fashion brand both locally and internationally.
With an ever-changing and challenging industry, armed with a positive attitude, Fuad believes that having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, an open mind to accept that things may not go according to plan, is important.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN