Malaysian Students Impress At Seoul Fashion Week With Traditional Songket Outfits

You can take the girl out of Malaysia, but you can never take Malaysia out of the girl.

Cover image via Amirah Tan (Provided to SAYS)

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Not being in the county didn't stop these Malaysians from going all out to celebrate Malaysia Day this year, as they rocked up to Seoul Fashion Week all decked out in traditional outfits

Malaysian student Amirah Tan and her friends, Nurin Athirah and Imran Rafick, wowed the crowd at one of Seoul Fashion Week's recent 2024 Spring/Summer shows at Dongdaemun Plaza, which took place from 5 September to 9 September.

As it was close to Malaysia Day, the students decided to showcase their patriotic spirit by attending in traditional outfits.

Amirah Tan

Image via Amirah Tan (Provided to SAYS)

Nurin Athirah

Image via Nurin Athirah (Provided to SAYS)

Imran Rafick

Image via Imran Rafick (Provided to SAYS)

All three focused on a traditional Malay handwoven fabric called songket, with Amirah donning a stunning green and gold baju kebarung, Athirah dressing in a striking red baju kebaya with colourful flowers, and Imran proudly rocking a full cream-coloured baju Melayu set that featured gorgeous details on the songket part.

What's extra cool is that Imran's baju Melayu set was actually provided to him by Malaysian brand Songket Dunia, after he wrote to them expressing his hope of collaborating to showcase songket to an international audience.

In an Instagram Reel posted by Amirah, the trio can be seen happily making their way to Dongdaemun Plaza via subway, already dressed in their outfits

Upon arrival at the Seoul Fashion Week show, despite not attending the runway show itself, they are seen attracting the attention of a crowd of photographers, who are eager to snap photos of their outfits.

Amirah's caption in the video even states that many were curious about the origin of their clothing.

How cool to see traditional Malaysian clothes getting attention at one of the biggest fashion events in South Korea!

Watch the video below:

"We thought it would be a good idea to showcase our traditional costumes as our way of embracing our roots as Malaysians living abroad," said Amirah in a conversation with SAYS

"We might not be able to join the Hari Kebangsaan parade back home, but this is the least we can do to preserve and proudly show our heritage to the world.

"Seoul Fashion Week is not restricted to fashion brands, so it's a great opportunity to showcase our costumes due to a saturation of international photographers here to shoot for their portfolios, and fashion designers and investors from Korean brands will also be roaming the venue.

"If we played our cards right, perhaps they would notice the beauty of songket and would be interested in a collaboration. Maybe someday, songket will be distributed internationally," she shared.

This is actually not Amirah's first time attending Seoul Fashion Week, having previously gone for their 2023 Fall/Winter shows this past March

She has been studying in South Korea for two years, pursuing her Master's in Environmental Engineering at Korea University. She is also an ambassador for the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Tourism Association, and attended Seoul Fashion Week as a Social Networking Service (SNS) reporter to promote the event.

Amirah at one of Seoul Fashion Week's 2023 Fall/Winter shows.

Image via Amirah Tan (Provided to SAYS)

The Fall/Winter shows were Amirah's first time attending a fashion show, and even then, she incorporated Malaysian elements into her outfit. After brainstorming ideas on what to wear, she finally decided to mix modern fashion elements with a twist of tradition by wearing a little piece of batik on her outfit.

Dressing according to the theme of the show, 'newtro' (a combination of new and retro), Amirah rocked a batik graphic tee with a matching batik scarf tied to her handbag. She paired it with a maxi denim skirt and added a mix of leather to complete the look.

When asked about their thought process behind their innovative idea to showcase Malaysian traditional outfits at Seoul Fashion week, the trio had this to say:

Imran: "I aim to introduce modest fashion to Korean fashion enthusiasts."

Athirah: "Having lived in Korea for so long, I miss my culture and heritage. Wearing these costumes allow me to reconnect with my roots and cherish them in a foreign land."

Amirah: "I want to see songket achieve the same level of fame as hanbok."

In the spirit of Malaysia Day, check out these other stories to instil a sense of patriotism:

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