Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Seni Moda, a local fashion showroom studio, gives seven homegrown fashion brands and creative makers – Upsykl, KAVA, HZNO, YKS Crafts Paradise, Cho’s Bags, Kabajoux and Mahkota Design Bn – the needed space to showcase and sell their products without the hurdles of investing in an outlet.

Co-founders Naz Samad (Nazy) of Kava and Nabilah Jeffrey of Upskyl moved into the bustling Citis Square with the aim to create a venue that provides the opportunity for fashion brands that have been long confined to an online presence to now have their own prominent physical space.

Co-founder of Seni Moda Naz Samad (C) along with her team members at the studio. Image: Azrina Zin

The idea of opening a brick-and-mortar store was born from a realisation that many emerging local talents were not being seen by a wider audience, said Nazy.

Seni Moda aims to nurture and support local designers by showcasing local talents who take pride in their brand and designs with potential customers.

SMALL BEGINNINGS, BIG DREAMS

The fashion studio is committed to playing a role in developing fashion scene with its ultimate goal to give creatives a platform in the hope of building the sultanate as a fashion hub.

“The idea to place the brands under one roof was birthed from the notion that the fashion ecosystem in Brunei needs to be co-dependent in order to strive and local brands especially can benefit from mutual collaboration, ” she said.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

It gives local fashion designers and makers a chance to showcase their work to a different set of audience.

As a founder and also a designer for KAVA, Nazy also saw talented individuals struggle to find a place to sell their work in Brunei.

“Opening up physical store is quite a challenge, so by sharing a space together is a good start for start-up brands like ourselves,” she said.

She further added that the biggest challenge for local fashion designers is to find a space to commit to permanently as they might not have the resources to operate a full-time retail outlet.

Due to high rental, most fashion designers do not have their own outlets, adding that majority would rely on social media to make sales.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Nazy and Nabilah believed that having a physical store alone is not enough but one also needs to create a solid platform that benefits both maker and customer alike.

“We want to support local designers and makers and help them flourish, and we do this through regular meetings with our designers.

This is how we find out what challenges they faced and what opportunities they are looking for,” explained Nazy.

MORE THAN JUST A FASHION BOUTIQUE

In addition to being a space to showcase products and services, Seni Moda will also host specialised workshops and events.

The integrated, multi-use space, aligns with the understanding of consumers wanting a more holistic experience when they come to a store, whether it is the ability to interact with the designers or indulge in a hands-on activity.

“We are making it more interactive by conducting workshops like sewing classes and even product launch for participating brands. We can even host small events like a sharing session, fashion talk and so forth,” said the KAVA founder.

According to the designer, the new space will also be outfitted where customers can come to see the products from its initiation stage into production stages.

BRANDS FEATURED

The showroom offers a variety of stylish options from upcycled clothes that promote ecological awareness to versatile minimalist pieces, hand-made jewelry, customisable fabrics and more.

For the brand Upskyl, it features eco-friendly and sustainable local fashion where it uses mostly recycled materials to create classic pieces with fashion-forward craftsmanship.

Seni Moda also houses local up-and-coming hijab brand Mahkota Designs BN that is led by three friends – Adika, Mex and Nas.

Mahkota Design Bn is dedicated to designing directly for their clients and creating custom one-of-a-kind pieces based on their preferences, aesthetics, style and other important aspects.

“Each piece has a different story in their design that gives it a unique character,” said Adika, who has strong eyes for detail and makes pieces that are “very personal” to their clients.

Besides headscarves and patterned hijabs, men need not feel left out either – Mahkota Design Bn also makes patterned blouse for men.

Customers can now visit the showroom and directly purchase clothes and accessories .

CONTRIBUTING TO THE COMMUNITY

Furthermore, Seni Moda has dedicated a percentage of their proceeds towards the Family Empowerment and Economic Development (byFEED) initiative aimed at positively impacting the lives of economically-challenged communities to shape a meaningful and sustainable future.

The contributions will be in terms of conducting skills training, purchasing of equipment like sewing machines and gardening equipment, among others, to kickstart the participant’s businesses.

This article was first published on June 15, 2019 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 41

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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