Clothed in her­itage

Warisan Angsari Bu­sana Me­layu is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity here and abroad for turn­ing tra­di­tional Malay ap­parel into fash­ion­able state­ment pieces, writes Na­dia Badarudin

New Straits Times - - Focus - na­dia-badarudin@nst.com.my

We of­fer com­plete tra­di­tional en­sem­bles from top to toe. Our con­cept is mak­ing tra­di­tional wear more ver­sa­tile and prac­ti­cal in our daily lives.

Putri El­iza Me­gat Nazam

WHAT we wear is a re­flec­tion of our per­son­al­ity and ex­pres­sion. Our style or the way we dress has an in­flu­ence on how we are per­ceived or cat­e­gorised in so­ci­ety.

In tra­di­tional Malay cul­ture, at­tire as well as the choice of fab­rics and adorn­ments mark one’s so­cial sta­tus or sig­nif­i­cance.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the aris­to­crats wear baju sikap or baju layang (both are Malay out­fits for men) and pend­ing (or­na­men­tal belt buckle) as well as the tengkolok (head­gear) with its fold sig­ni­fy­ing the wearer’s hi­er­ar­chy in so­ci­ety.

In the past, the fold of the sampin (the sarong around the waist) worn by traders in­di­cated whether they were lo­cals or not.

In­spired by clas­sic fash­ion el­e­ments of the Malay archipelago, a home­grown fash­ion brand — Warisan Angsari Bu­sana Me­layu — is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the lo­cal fash­ion scene as well as in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries for turn­ing tra­di­tional Malay ap­parel into fash­ion­able state­ment pieces.

WARISAN ANGSARI

At Warisan Angsari, tra­di­tional Malay at­tire is be­ing made wear­able for more than just for­mal func­tions or cul­tural per­for­mances.

The la­bel rolled out its de­but col­lec­tion for men for Hari Raya last year, fea­tur­ing ready-to-wear baju sikap and cus­tom­made baju layang com­plete with rel­e­vant ac­ces­sories.

Rather than a typ­i­cal baju Me­layu for Hari Raya gather­ings, Warisan Angsari’s en­sem­ble is like a blast from the past: Imagine a pen­dekar (Malay war­rior) in an out­fit com­plete with tengkolok, a kris tucked into the front fold of the sampin and hand­made ca­pal (leather san­dals) to com­plete the look.

“We of­fer com­plete tra­di­tional en­sem­bles from top to toe. Our con­cept is about mak­ing tra­di­tional wear more ver­sa­tile and prac­ti­cal for daily life.

“We make the out­fits more fash­ion­able and af­ford­able as well as read­ily and eas­ily avail­able to those who love her­itage, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the age-old el­e­ments that make them unique in the first place,” says Warisan Angsari bou­tique man­ager, Putri El­iza Me­gat Nazam, 29.

Be­sides Hari Raya, the brand’s out­fits are also tai­lored for martial arts like silat and spe­cific sports such as horse­back archery.

ANTIQUE BE­GIN­NING

The story of the fash­ion la­bel be­gan from an antique shop, Kedai An­tik Warisan Angsari, in Jalan Ko­lam Air Lama in Am­pang, Selangor.

The shop, which opened in 2012, has as its founder Me­gat Te­lanai, the cre­ative mas­ter­mind and de­signer be­hind the fash­ion ven­ture.

“Vin­tage fash­ion ac­ces­sories and tra­di­tional cloth­ing sourced from all over the Malay archipelago are among the prod­ucts avail­able at the shop.

“The fash­ion busi­ness was born from a pas­sion and in­spi­ra­tion for antique items. Both busi­nesses are a per­fect fit,” says Perak-born Putri El­iza who holds Malay her­itage and cul­ture close to her heart.

The brand spe­cialises in men’s out­fits, mainly baju layang and baju sikap com­plete with bengkung and pants in clas­sic cuts like gunt­ing Aceh or gunt­ing Cina.

Cus­tomers also have the op­tion of choos­ing the rel­e­vant ac­ces­sories to go with each out­fit such as tengkolok, long neck­lace, sampin and ca­pal.

“We have ready-made bridal wear for women but it’s lim­ited to only ke­baya Riau with kain selisih and op­tional vin­tage

ac­ces­sories like veils with her­itage em­broi­dery such as ker­ingkam, dokoh (tra­di­tional neck­lace), gold-plated ban­gles, sil­ver belts and vel­vet slip­pers with songket em­broi­dery,” says Putri El­iza.

UNIQUE­NESS

Warisan Angsari of­fers out­fits that do away with the fea­tures or fac­tors that make wear­ing them a has­sle.

The clothes come with af­ford­able price tags and ex­cep­tional qual­ity. For in­stance, a ba­sic ready-made baju sikap made of cot­ton re­tails at RM230, while a ba­sic cus­tom­made baju layang of Baron-weaved fab­ric re­tails at RM300.

“To make the out­fits more prac­ti­cal to wear, we use com­fort­able ma­te­ri­als such as Baron and cot­ton. We also work with fab­rics fea­tur­ing mod­ern mo­tifs or pat­terns.

“Rather than ask­ing cus­tomers to learn the tech­niques to roll or fold the sarong, we of­fer im­pro­vised ver­sions — like an in­stant tengkolok or ready-made kain selisih — to make them eas­ier to wear,” says Putri El­iza.

Most of the fab­rics are sourced from In­done­sia. The fine work­man­ship is car­ried out by ex­pert seam­stresses from Malaysia and In­done­sia.

Putri El­iza says they make sure that the unique el­e­ments of tra­di­tional fash­ion mas­ter­pieces are well-pre­served in each de­sign.

“We carry out thor­ough re­search, even re­fer­ring to ex­perts in his­tory,” she says. tra­di­tional her­itage and

To main­tain the brand’s ex­clu­siv­ity, the com­pany is very selective in tak­ing or­ders.

“There are cus­tomers keen on mak­ing out­fits from our ma­te­ri­als but in­sist on their own de­signs or cuts.

“We don’t cater to that be­cause what mat­ters most to us is the orig­i­nal cut and pat­terns. We value the prin­ci­ples or phi­los­o­phy be­hind ev­ery de­tail. That’s the beauty of tra­di­tional at­tire,” she adds.

CU­RI­OUS CUS­TOMERS

With In­sta­gram and Face­book as its main mar­ket­ing plat­forms, Warisan Angsari’s cus­tomer base is grow­ing pos­i­tively de­spite be­ing barely a year in the fash­ion scene.

“More young cus­tomers are com­ing to

our bou­tique. Many of them are just cu­ri­ous about how to wear tra­di­tional out­fits — which is a good sign,” says Putri El­iza.

“To ed­u­cate our cus­tomers about our cul­ture and her­itage by mak­ing tra­di­tional mas­ter­pieces trendier and more ver­sa­tile is al­ways at the core of our busi­ness.

“At Warisan Angsari, we do our best to teach cus­tomers the art be­hind tra­di­tional

out­fits and the proper way to wear them,” she says.

How­ever, the busi­ness is not free from cyn­i­cal re­marks es­pe­cially from tra­di­tional fash­ion purists.

“There will al­ways be haters and we take that as a chal­lenge to im­prove.

“We know we have done some­thing right when we see happy cus­tomers shar­ing snap­shots of them­selves in Warisan Angsari on In­sta­gram or Face­book, or hav­ing re­peat cus­tomers ea­gerly wait­ing for new col­lec­tions.

“At the end of the day, we just want our cus­tomers to be happy and con­fi­dent in what they wear, and proud of their own her­itage,” she adds.

Pic­ture by hAf­fiz­zsyAzwAn PhotogrAPhy Pic­ture by Arif budimAn PhotogrAPhy

Classy at­tire for a wed­ding. The out­fits are also tai­lored for spe­cific sports such as horse­back archery.

Antique ac­ces­sories to com­ple­ment the tra­di­tional out­fits.

Pic­ture by nAzrAn JAmel

Putri El­iza show­ing a vin­tage ker­ingkam veil.

pic­ture by arif budimaN photography

A tra­di­tional take for this year’s Hari Raya.

pic­ture by yob dabai photography

Malaysian rep­re­sen­ta­tives don­ning Warisan Angsari oufits at the 2016 In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val for Drums and Tra­di­tional Arts in Cairo, Egypt.

pic­ture by Shabri Saad

A model at the 2016 Run­way Fash­ion Songket Fes­ti­val in Kuala Lumpur.

pic­ture by NazraN Jamel

Among the cre­ative de­signs to de­ter­mine size of clothes.

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