Making a ‘green’ statement with fashion
There are scores of fascinating islands and exotic forests yet to be explored but sadly they are all taken for granted in the face of a growing and widely expanding economy, said fashion designer Shazmin Hashim Zainal.
“When I was given the theme Asean, instead of going for the wonders of the region I looked at the major issues surrounding it. I did my research and figured out that what makes Asean so beautiful from other regions is that we are rich in natural resources.”
Unfortunately, the 23-year-old fashion designer also discovered that one of the major ‘not-so-nice’ sides of Asean was deforestation and that Malaysia had one of the fastest deforestation rates in the region.
“With passion for art and skills in fashion I combined the two-art medium to express my frustrations into my collection,” said Shazmin who won the first runner up title of AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2015 with her collection that was inspired by the issue of deforestation and the beauty of nature in Sarawak.
“I take inspiration from art such as paintings, philosophy, nature and most importantly the way in which human beings behave in life. I think if a collection can portray the feelings of the human psyche, it supports the collection in embodying a mood and solid emotions and so I figure, where else could it be a better place to share it out.
The first competition she’d participated in, she credited it for providing a great platform through Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2015.
“It is a great platform for young designers to showcase their talents and share creative minds with one another and also to the society. It also helps me to build trust from the fashion companies and clients due to the participations and achievements I experienced.”
The competition was a great journey for her not only in the making of her collection but also in preparing herself mentally and emotionally for the industry.
“I do know that many other young designers will do anything to showcase their creations on the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready To Wear (KLFWRTW) runway,” said the Bachelor of Art and Design (Hons) (Fashion Design) graduate from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam.
Despite her impressive skills, Shazmin said that coming up with designs for her theme was her greatest challenge.
“I thought of what kind of image would be a good message to send out so that the audience could have a better understanding, and also on how to create the intended mood.”
Her second challenge was sourcing for materials.
“It took me a while to get everything going from choosing the suitable fabrics to experimenting with dyes and ink to paint with. After days to weeks of consultations I finally came up with the best technique that I can produce,” she explained.
With a lot of talented young designers from different universities and colleges competing with her, she didn’t even think she was going to pass the judging round.
“I was quite shocked when they called out my name when they announced the 10 finalists! I literally said to my friend, Andy, who was also one of the finalists, to pinch me because it felt surreal.”
The real surprise came later when she was announced the first runner up.
“The first thing I saw were my parents standing up and cheering for me. What could be better than to see your parents proud of your achievement?”
Shazmin, who hails from Subang Jaya, said that her first brush with art was when she was 5 years old.
“I was influenced by my father’s creativity and fell in love with art ever since until it become a passion of mine.
“However, I built my interest in fashion when I had my Diploma in Fashion Design from UiTM Seri Iskandar in Perak and made my first outfit,” she said of her proudest moment because she had zero experience in sewing, styling or any kind of fashion-related skills. The excitement of completing the garment, however, was satisfying.
“What drew me into the fashion industry was the art of application of design and aesthetics or natural beauty, to clothing and accessories of certain cultural and social latitudes,” she added.
In her early studies, she handled a senior’s fashion show as head of wardrobe and later she had a really good backstage experience in one of the Islamic fashion shows in Kuala Lumpur.
Recently, after working on her internship under a visual merchandising department, she worked as a fashion stylist.
She opined that what was lacking in the fashion industry in Malaysia was the business opportunity for local designers to grow with big fashion brands leading the pack.
“We as designers are stuck and kept for only special occasions like weddings, award nights among others.
“I hope one day there will be more room for everyday wear made by local designers in departmental stores, major malls and shopping streets,” said Shazmin, who also wishes to dress celebrities and run her own fashion shows in the future.
She pointed out that for the fashion industry to be sustainable economically, it must be sustainable socially and environmentally too.
“These provocative scenarios challenge all of us to look beyond the short term and use our collective power to work to create the kind of positive world we’d like to see.
“Alhamdulillah, after the competition, many have given me a lot of support especially AirAsia through this competition to do so much more in the fashion industry,” she said.
Currently, Shazmin is slowly starting her career and working to set up a studio workshop for her brand in not just apparel but also art pieces.
“I am currently working on creating my own line with my team,” she said. “It hasn’t been revealed yet but soon.”
She sees 2015 as a start and learning stage, and is ready to take on the journey starting next year.
“Within five years I hope I am able to establish my own studio workshop and keep my business running, and within 10 years, I really look to grace international fashion runways with my collection. That would be a dream come true,” she added.
She also planned to expand her line in various types of merchandises not only in apparels.
“Art has always been the only thing I love to do so I’m probably going to still paint and draw just as much as I sew and design. The best of both worlds,” she said.
AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search is a young designer search programme initiated by AirAsia in collaboration with Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready to Wear and aims to provide a platform for aspiring designers to showcase their talents and help catapult them into the fashion industry.
A total of 10 young designers – mainly university students – that include Syamil Fazwan, Muhammad Nur Hazimin, Liew Suet Yi, Ong Pei Ying, Ter Mei Ching (2nd Runner Up), Lee Bao En (Grand Winner), Nur Irsalina Sulzaily, and Andy Yeo Kai Seh, Foo Yee Ming and Shazmin were given the chance of a lifetime to showcase their creations on the prestigious runway of the third KLFWRTW at Pavillion near Jalan Bukit Bintang on November 16.
They were judged based on their originality, creativity, design, stage presentation and consistency in their proposed collection.
Shazmin received return flights to Sydney, along with 60, 000 BIG Points, a trophy as well as a Dell Inspiron 11 3000 laptop..
Follow the journey of AirAsia Runway Designer Search 2015 on AirAsia’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/airasia for webisodes, behind-the-scenes and exclusive interviews with the judges and more, as well as follow www.facebook.com/AirAsia and www.twitter.com/AirAsia for other activities and updates about the airline.