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8 lessons I learnt at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week

Tan Win Shean

Tan Win Shean

Tan Win Shean

Tan Win Shean

Daphne Lim Wen Sin

Daphne Lim Wen Sin

A-Jane

A-Jane

A-Jane

A-Jane

A-Jane

A-Jane

A-Jane

A-Jane

Billy

Billy

Harper's Bazaar

Harper's Bazaar

Jimmy Lim

Jimmy Lim

Kong

Kong

Kristopher Toon

Kristopher Toon

Lau Zhong Xun

Lau Zhong Xun

Liza Azulkarnian

Liza Azulkarnian

Maatin Shakir

Maatin Shakir

Nabil Volkers

Nabil Volkers

Nabil Volkers

Nabil Volkers

Neonate

Neonate

Neonate

Neonate

Paraluman

Paraluman

Sean Sheila

Sean Sheila

Sean Sheila

Sean Sheila

Images via KLFW
Words by Tara Smith

Incred.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending KLFW (that’s Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, for those playing at home).

While we’ve all heard of the heavyweights – NYFW, LFW and closer to home, MBFWA – KLFW is still relatively new. But despite only celebrating its sixth year in action, the event has wasted no time in catching up with its international counterparts. Acquainted with the calibre of events like MFW and VAMFF, I’ll admit I thought this level of expertise would be hard to replicate.

This all changed as soon as I attended my first show. It was good. Like really good.

Everything from the production to the designers to the gift bags were taken care of with precision. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking Kuala Lumpur was a fashion week veteran.

Turns out, there were many more observations to be made during my four-day voyage. So, for outsiders looking in, here are 8 lessons I learnt at KLFW.

You’ll up your follower count(s), because everyone is so damn friendly

I’ve attended many fashion weeks in the past where I’ll be lucky to get a side glance from the fashion blogger seated next to me. But things are different here. In KL, your seatmate will strike up a conversation and be genuinely interested to hear what you have to say. Better yet, you’ll exchange business cards, Instagram handles and mother’s maiden names. They’re THAT friendly.

Transport is bigger and better

Uber = GrabCar in Malaysia (which I soon learnt was infinitely better). Drivers DM you on arrival, you can pay by cash OR card, and the map won’t take you on some convoluted route to your destination. It will even let your driver know when there are cars stopped on the highway ahead of you.

On top of that, Air Asia has the monopoly in KL, and for good reason. My flight over consisted of delicious meals, excellent movie choices and super helpful staff (even when I asked to pay for my food in AUD like the tourist I am).

Fashion Week CAN take place in a shopping centre, without being super lame

Hear me out. Pavilion KL is unlike any shopping centre you’ve ever seen. For one, it’s gigantic (250,000 square feet across seven floors), and Fashion Week takes place in the very centre of it. It’s strategically placed at the lowest floor, so crowds of onlookers can gather around at every level to watch the performance taking place below. Genius.

You can have a runway dedicated to watches and smartphones

I was cynical at first, but yes, this happened. At one point I almost considered swapping out my outdated iPhone 6 to a shiny red Huawei Nova 3i. Then I remembered I probably shouldn’t purchase a Malaysian phone plan.

The hospitality is unparalleled

At hotels like the Sheraton Imperial, helping yourself to a buffet breakfast of curry, spring rolls and fried noodles isn’t frowned upon. In fact, it’s encouraged. This was great for me as each day I loaded up my plate with all the waffles, curries, spring rolls and roti bread my body could handle.

From the room, I enjoyed very Instagrammable views of KL Tower, which I’m sure my followers got sick of within one day of me checking into the hotel. Too bad, mates.

Of course, my last objective included checking out the pool (arguably the most important part of any hotel) where I proceeded to spend majority of my free time, and maybe some of my work time (don’t tell my boss). It’s hard not to when it’s 34 degrees outside and all you need to do is press a button for service.

Slumming it up in a five-star hotel does have its advantages.

The designers are a force to be reckoned with

Just like any fashion week, you can expect to be blown away by the standard of local design talent. Malaysia’s top designers weren’t afraid to push boundaries – menswear emblazoned with symbols of the devil, slinkies (yes, the toy) carried down the runway with colourful ensembles, Space Age headpieces and models waving full-sized flags during their final walk. Every show brought something different, just like these models who decided to lay down halfway through.

Street style is insane

Equally as intriguing as the designer showcases was the street style. The bloggers were out in force at Pavilion KL, which proved to be a very interesting people-watching exercise for me. Monochrome co-ord sets, big, Ellery-like silhouettes with dramatic draping and colourful graphics were embraced by the blogger army. And refreshingly, there wasn’t a single Gucci logo belt in sight.

Punctuality is not Malaysia’s strong point

A lesson I learnt the hard way, when I arrived at Fashion Week embarrassingly early on day one. It’s normal for a show to start 40-50 minutes after the scheduled time, which was saved by the fact that it’s situated inside a gigantic shopping centre.

After four huge days of runways and people-watching, I flew back home to Aus and accepted I wouldn’t be getting a spring roll for breakfast any time soon. Seriously, it’s been a week and I haven’t been offered a single one.

See you in 2019, KLFW.

Tara Smith was a guest of Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2018.

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