Fashion world, watch out! Asean designers are coming for you

The Council of Asean Fashion Designers is tasked to propel the region’s fashion industry forward


Asean designers are set to make inroads into the global multitrillion-dollar fashion industry with the establishment of the Council of Asean Fashion Designers (CAFD).

CAFD — the first and only Asean secretariat-recognised fashion trade council — is tasked to propel the region’s fashion industry forward onto the global stage via strategic collaborations with international organisations for greater market access.

For a start, CAFD has forged partnerships with the world’s leading music company and TV networks, including Universal Music Group, China’s Hunan TV Network Co Ltd and Vietnam-based Yeah1 Network, to open up opportunities for fashion designers in the 10 Asean countries to work with international celebrities.

Concurrently, CAFD initiated the #WEARWHATSFAIR campaign which is aimed at democratising and promoting the sustainability of the Asean fashion industry via financial, marketing and technology support for designers.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said the supply chain and demand of Asean fashion are expected to become stronger with the setting up of CAFD.

“CAFD shall create a wider market access for Asean designers and improve the demand and supply side towards sustainability with international standards that include fair pricing and wages for industry players,” Ong said at the launch of CAFD in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

The #WEARWHATSFAIR campaign, among others, supports responsible designer wear to combat fake goods, a fair living wage for apparel makers by reviving the tailoring industry and tailored clothing for quality and long-lasting apparel to reduce textile waste. 

CAFD honorary chairman Datuk Kenn Yam said the region’s fashion industry requires a reinvention to remain relevant and gradually phase out its image as a low-cost purveyor of clothing.

“We want to create a special niche of Asean fashion that is neither high or low, making it a reachable fashion made by original designers with high quality. The most important thing is that we want to champion for our designers to have a fair living wage,” he said.

Presently, he said Asean fashion captures about 24% of the global market which is projected to reach US$3 trillion (RM12.6 trillion) by 2020.

CAFD president Remy Hou, a renowned Cambodian fashion designer who has worked with Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, is optimistic that Asean designers could be catapulted to the international scene with the advent of social media platforms and celebrity networks provided by the organisation.

Hou said the partnership with Universal Music will give Asean emerging designers access to the world’s celebrities such as Perry, Taylor Swift and Martin Garrix.

He added that Hunan TV, with more than seven billion viewers in China and globally, would provide exposure and promotions for regional talents in the China market.

CAFD is also working with Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) to provide an avenue for Asean designers to pitch their designs to the top five fashion and style key opinion leaders from China with a combined 30 million followers for prospective commercialisation in China’s market.

Additionally, CAFD has partnered AFAB Asia Sdn Bhd to develop a creator-to-consumer platform, the world’s first fashion trading mobile app that can take measurements via camera and create an international marketplace for Asean fashion.

The app is expected to be launched in the first quarter next year.

The launch of CAFD featured a Victoria’s Secret style-runway show by 18 rising Asean fashion designers such as Fiziwoo from Malaysia, Chanchai Suwannachaya from Thailand and Michelle Bernardo from
the Philippines.