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Kuching, 3 December 2021 – The Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture; Yang Berhormat Dato Sri Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; today officiated a gala dinner, featuring a unique runway fashion showcase at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching. The event presented fashion collections using handwoven material produced by weaving communities across Southeast Asia, using traditional handlooms and employing techniques handed down from generation to generation.

The event marked the culmination of the inaugural TENUN Fashion Week, which was presented virtually from 15 to 17 October, and saw the participation of 45 weaving communities across countries in Southeast Asia, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Dedicated completely to these handweaves while reimagining their continued relevance by exploring their use in modern fashion, the TENUN Fashion Week was organised by the Maybank Foundation, through its Maybank Women Eco-Weavers programme, in collaboration with the ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA); and Tanoti – a Malaysian social enterprise dedicated to heritage craft preservation, women empowerment and rural community-building.


A fashion showcase quite unlike any other

In Southeast Asia, where textile weaving is traditionally taken up by women, hundreds of weaving communities make up a virtually untold but vital part of the region’s traditional fashion, culture and shared heritage. With humble hands, these women meticulously produce intricate fabrics – from exquisite material produced for royal courts to vivid cloths encompassing a tremendous range of imagery, demonstrating considerable technical prowess. Although these beautiful works of art continue to stand the test of time, the women who create them find it hard to survive in modern times.

As such, the TENUN Fashion Week and ensuing live gala fashion showcase truly stands out from other typical fashion events, in that it emphasises a particular focus on the creation of handwoven textiles in Southeast Asia, while shining a large spotlight on the participating communities that produce them, along with their unique stories.

In many ways, the unprecedented nature of the TENUN Fashion Week and live gala fashion showcase not only marked the first-ever coming together of these weaving communities, but also the visual representation of their unique works and stories. This unprecedented endeavour was symbolically manifested at the live fashion gala event, in the form of the “Weaver’s Anthem”, a distinctively special musical performance produced using weaving instruments.

“While Malaysia’s unique cultural legacy truly stands out and is celebrated all across the world, I believe we can play a unique role in championing our shared heritage with other countries, especially within Southeast Asia. In this regard, I would like to congratulate the organisers of the TENUN Fashion Week and this fashion show for presenting what I truly believe will be a catalyst towards the furtherance of the regional weaving industry,” said Dato Sri Haji Abdul Karim at the live gala fashion showcase.

During the evening’s programme, three participating weaving communities were announced as award winners for their winning collection of textiles which were showcased in the TENUN Fashion Week.

These were Tohsang Cotton Village from Thailand who were awarded the TENUN Best Collection Award and Rumah Rakuji, together with the weaving community of Tunas Mekar Batubura from Indonesia, who won the Lakumas Most Innovative Weaves Award. Both these awards were judged by a prestigious panel of adjudicators, including Rocco Gaglioti, founder of International Digital Fashion Week; Marianna Miceli, founder of Mad Mood Milano Fashion Week; and Aidarkhan Kaliyev, founder of Aspara Fashion Week.

The Bengkalis Community of the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM), Indonesia was awarded a People’s Choice Award determined by public votes based on their choice of the best collection among those featured over the course of the TENUN Fashion Week.

The winners in all three categories each received cash prizes and six kilograms of Candimas Tencel yarn, sponsored by PT Lakumas, who also sponsored the cash prize for the Most Innovative Weaves Award.


Setting the stage

“We set out to organise the TENUN Fashion Week, chiefly to create awareness towards the unique handweaves of Southeast Asia by bringing them out into the open, thus improving their marketability and subsequently, their profitability. Seeing this inaugural event reach the scale and magnitude that it has is truly rewarding, particularly for the participating weaving communities. But it also shows the promising potential of the TENUN platform,” said Jacqueline Fong, Co-organiser of TENUN Fashion Week and Director of Tanoti.

Already, plans are underway to make TENUN annual event.  Undeniably, the stage is set for what has become an instrumental platform in presenting Asian handweaves to the world.

“I think it was a very unique experience in that everyone that participated were very excited to be in this project. Many of these communities had never previously participated in any fashion showcase outside their own countries! The other notable experience was the learning of their stories, their textile traditions and ancestral weaving techniques, and conveying them to TENUN’s audience,” added Fong.

All the collections showcased by TENUN are available for purchase via its e-commerce platform on the TENUN website, which will also feature promotional videos and contact listings of the participating communities.

More details are available at


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