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M’sian Creatives Group Calls Out Local Designer for Allegedly Appropriating Mah Meri Culture


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Source: Borneo Bengkel | Instagram

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It’s no secret that Malaysia is home to countless designers with endless creative ideas. Though, every once in a while, some of these ideas end up attracting backlash due to various reasons.

A local designer is currently being called out for allegedly appropriating Mah Meri (a Malaysian native ethnicity) culture.

Borneo Bengkel, a group that unites creatives from all over Borneo (Sabah, Sarawak, Kalimantan and Brunei), took to their Instagram Story to call out the designer for using Mah Meri traditional ceremonial masks and attire in their fashion show.

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Borneo Bengkel wrote, “An indigenous community as a fashion concept?”


In their Instagram Story, they also included various questions for the designer, surrounding whether the designer had included Mah Meri community members in the discussions and creations of the fashion pieces.

Here are the questions: 

  1.  Did you have members of the community in your design team?
  2. Did you engage community advisors about appropriate and correct usage of their cultural costumes?
  3. Did community members create the ceremonial masks or did you engage non-AO makers?
  4. Were any of your models from the community?
  5. Did you invite any Mah Meri community members to attend your show?
  6. How did you ensure your collection was respectful, appropriate and not an exploitative exotification of a marginalised community?


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Additionally, Borneo Bengkel had left a comment listing these questions on the designer’s post in regards to the fashion show, that has since been removed by Instagram.

What do you think about this? Do feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.


Also read: This Local Designer Will Be Representing Malaysia At The New York Couture Fashion Week!

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