Kuala Lumpur Asia Fashion Week a.k.a. KLAFW 2005 (klawf.com), an event showcasing 90 designers from 17 Asian countries was held November 23 to 27 under the apt theme of “Tropic of Asia.”

The sun provided a warm backdrop in which designers from Australia, Malaysia, Cambodia, China, Japan and Thailand among other countries, showed their spring/summer 2006 ready to wear collections.

The annual trade event aims to highlight Asia’s diversity and catwalk shows were held at the shopping mall avenue K, in addition to evening gala events at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The event kicked off with a home-grown affair, “Made in Malaysia” and designers included Andy Sulaiman, Beatrice Looi, Donna Chew, Frank Lai, Jonathan Cheng, Kapas, Key Ng, Nazleen Noor, Salikin Sidek and William Liew, all relatively well known by domestic consumers.

Aside from collections KLAFW aims to be a trade event in which designers, media and buyers are brought together, fully supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Malaysia and by MIFA to foster Asian fashion.
While the event will never compete with the Big Four (New York, Paris, London, Milan) in terms of catwalk offering or conceptual design, the event will become increasingly important to 60% of the world’s population, which reside in Asia. Since the fashion week also supports Muslim talent with some of the designers creating looks that appeal to consumers who wish to cover up but in fashionable apparel, the event finds a niche not yet discovered by Western brands.

In addition, KL, with its annual subtropical climate also caters to a large section of the globe including Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and parts of Australia among other countries who really have no need for fall/winter apparel and heavy, wool fabrics.

Standout shows included Thailand’s mysteriously named T-R, whose label Rabbit Habbit was a visual feast of pared back, contemporary Scandinavian-inspired prints on wearable swingy skirts and cropped jackets and Japan’s Gaku Tsuyoshi, whose label Fundamental Agreement LUXURY specialized in what Japan does best, graphic T-shirts and denim streetwear.

For retailers and designers hoping to break the South East Asian region, KLAWF would be an ideal opportunity to study firsthand what consumers are wearing and what sells in a region that absorbs trends and adapts them to local customs and climate differently to European and North American markets.

Enquiries: 603.2143.3098

— Nicole Fall, Correspondent