On the 29th July 2017, the top 20 finalists chosen from 10 ASEAN countries embarked on a journey to Kuala Lumpur to prepare for the Grand Finale of AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017.

Every finalist competing in the Grand Finale in Kuala Lumpur will be vying for the chance to win a number of prizes worth at least RM350,000: a fund of MYR25,000 to produce a capsule collection to be sold on fashionvalet.com, 150,000 AirAsia BIG Points worth RM300,000, AirAsia flights to selected destinations, mentorship from the KLFW team, a six-page fashion spread in Travel3Sixty, a special feature in FEMALE Magazine Malaysia and finally, a coveted confirmed slot to showcase their full collection in KL Fashion Ready to Wear 2018.

The top 20 finalists gathered at Hotel Maya in the morning at 9:00 am for a fitting session of their designs, before their final runway presentation at Grand Finale this coming 18th August. The fitting session was significant as the finalists needed to fit their designs to models assigned to a specific country, as well as getting feedback from Andrew Tan, founder of KL Fashion Week, for any improvements on their designs.

PHOTO: AARRDS 2017 Fitting Session

This was not their first meeting with Andrew as prior to the fitting session, finalists flew to Kuala Lumpur in May for consultations and mentorship in finalising their designs before beginning the execution for the fitting session.

Humaira Zakaria, one of the top 20 finalists from Brunei Darussalam revealed that the constructive feedback from Andrew after seeing the actual garments made from her designs served to improve them before the final show at the Grand Finale. She also added that she needed to be less restricted in her designs. With her designs, the challenge was to find something that represented Brunei, while also being out-of-the-box at the same time. Her design collections involve street-wear pieces inspired from the traditional ‘baju kurung’ silhouette of the white dress commonly used for school uniforms in Brunei Darussalam.

PHOTO: AARRDS 2017 Fitting Session

Nazy of KAVA states that her main objective for competing in AARRDS was to showcase their brand. KAVA focuses on minimalist street-wear designs with a touch of modesty. She also added that this was also a way to express the modern side of Brunei as she included famous landmarks of Brunei in her designs to showcase the Bruneian identity. While competing in AARDS, her expectations rest not solely on the results of the competition, but rather on the exposure to advertise their brand to the global fashion market.

According to Andrew Tan, with the partnership of KL Fashion Week and AirAsia, the expansion of the third AARRDS to 10 ASEAN countries will support their idea of making Malaysia as a fashion hub, especially for ASEAN countries. Coincidentally, the first expansion of this event to all 10 ASEAN countries for 2017 also coincides with the 50th anniversary celebration of ASEAN.

For the Grand Finale, the judging criteria will  be based on 5 factors, with the first referring to the design, creativity and the originality of the collection. Another criteria to be considered is the consistency throughout the collection by the designers. The collections will also be judged if it adheres to the ASEAN theme, with notable influence of the theme in their designs. The fourth factor for consideration is the practicality of the collection, focusing on the ready-to-wear element of the designs. The last criteria of judging is the runway presentation. Eighty percent of the judging will be done before the main runway event in the morning of the Grand Finale, and the other twenty percent will be done during the runway show itself. All guest judges from each country will be invited to attend the Grand Finale.

In AARRDS, AirAsia and KLFW provide a platform to discover and build future fashion designers from each Southeast Asian nation. From following through the fashion careers of the designers before and even after the competition, it is part of the means to expose them to the global market. Follow the official Instagram of KLFW for more details on the designers’ journeys to AARRDS!