Over the weekend, a Dutch designer based in Malaysia came under fire for her “crusade” of wanting to “see Malays dressing beautifully again”, sparking accusations of cultural appropriation.
Netizens took issue with comments made by Nala Design founder Lisette Scheers who said “my dream is to see the baju kurung return, to see Malays dressing beautifully again. Growing up this country was full of beautiful fabrics and colours,” in a South China Morning Post article.
At the time the feature was published, it was titled, ‘Shocked by Kuala Lumpur’s commercialisation, a designer set about creating products that celebrate Malaysian heritage’. However, it has since been edited to a less sensational headline – ‘How Malaysian culture inspires a Dutch designer’.
Netizens were irked by the designer’s comments, with some saying there’s nothing wrong with how Malays dress, and that our baju kurung heritage is well and flourishing. While many went on a rampage, one Malaysian decided to show exactly how our heritage is thriving.
Facebook user, Ashira Fahra compiled a series of amazing batik work and other traditional craftsmanship, dedicating it to Lisette.
Ashira wrote, “Let me show you the real people who is on a ‘crusade’. Who actually left the city for it, who actually don’t make a lot of money out of what they’re doing like you do. Who is actually living in kampung houses (not in Bangsar), who make ends meet to uphold the culture, who spend their blood, sweat and tears to make those ‘no quality, no pride, shocking to see’ products”.