FOR years, Tom Abang Saufi has wowed fashion fans with her use of indigenous Sarawakian motifs in her designs.
Her signature pua prints and bright, colourful outfits are back this Hari Raya, as she returns for an exclusive 14-look collection for online retailer Zalora.
Here, Tom shares her thoughts on the collection as well as the ever-evolving Hari Raya fashion scene.
The collection with Zalora marks your comeback after several years away from releasing a Ready-to-Wear line. Why did you go away and what prompted your return?
I have always stayed active in fashion, especially with my batik collection. However, I have not been active with regards to online retail because if you plan to release a full collection online, the price factor has to be accessible for a much younger demographic.
I’ve also been very busy with some CSR (corporate social responsibility) work and mentoring, as a way of giving back after the all things that I have experienced in my career.
I decided to do a collection with Zalora because of the demand for user-friendly, fun Hari Raya-wear that also incorporates heritage elements.
Working with Zalora is completely enjoyable. I love the young vibes, especially in their production office.
Every day is a learning curve for me, so working with Zalora gives me fresh ideas to create and also twist Tom Abang Saufi classic motifs.
How has Hari Raya fashion changed throughout the years?
Hari Raya has changed from the 1980s because now everyone can get their hands on more than one outfit with just a click, at very affordable prices.
Fashion style and trends are also no longer confined within boundaries, and you can find combinations of global looks that are put into a Raya-compliant look, which are essentially a tunic and a long skirt. Anything that reaches the ankles like dresses and kaftans are also kosher Raya wear.
What is special or different about designing a Raya collection?
Designing Raya-wear for me is about reaching out to people of every age group and sticking to my no-zips, no-buttons philosophy, and still giving a hint of heritage in the design.
It’s also about designing for that month-long open house events, with outfits that are not tight-fitting but elegant enough and colourful enough to give confidence and comfort.
What is your inspiration for this collection?
My inspiration this Raya is figuring out how to rock a new man-made fabric with heritage-inspired prints. I’ve created a modern version of the baju kedah, and played with pesak to give it a 2017 feel.
What fabrics did you use and why?
I had to use (polyblend fabric for the) digital printing and consider the price factor of ready-to-wear, so I couldn’t work with my usual natural silks like crepe de chine, satin, silk, silk chiffon, etc.
Tell us about the prints and patterns that you use in the collection.
The prints and patterns are twists of classic Tom Abang Saufi motifs, which are inspired by pua Orang Ulu swirls. Twisting it makes it younger with a retro feel.
Which is your favourite piece from the collection?
My favourite piece is the Sonya top and the matching mermaid skirt in lime green and pink, with the big modern pua motif.
What is your rule for mixing colours and prints?
I don’t have any rules with colours. I have a feel about a certain group of colours, and I mix them all together against the human skin.
I can never design without touching a human body because sometimes the design looks like nothing on a chair or a hanger but as soon as it touches the body, it has life.
What are you planning to wear on the first day of Hari Raya?
I’m planning on wearing the Sonya lime set and the black and white kaftan from #TomAbangSaufiForZALORA.