Dutch designer under fire for wanting ‘to see Malays dress beautiful again’

Malay women are proud of their traditional baju kurung and wear it during festivals, as well as every day. Photo: 123rf.com

A Dutch designer based here has come under fire for her crusade of wanting to “see Malays dressing beautifully again”, sparking accusations of cultural appropriation.

Netizens took issue with comments made by Nala Design founder Lisette Scheers who said “my dream is to see the baju kurung return, to see Malays dressing beautifully again. Growing up this country was full of beautiful fabrics and colours," in a South China Morning Post article.

Netizens were irked by the designer's comments, saying there's nothing wrong with how Malays dress, and that their baju kurung heritage is well and thriving.

ALSO READ: Local designers who are already dressing Malaysians beautifully in baju kurung

Intagram user, @_sarahmad, said her problem with Scheers’ comments was that she was “culturally appropriating OUR traditional clothing for your own profit, ” and “the irony that you speak about authenticity and traditional Malaysian culture when you are in fact, part of the gentrification and commercialization of Malaysia.”

Another, @anchorsadrift said "I love your clothing and designs, but the tone of that article was really disappointing. It struck me as condescending, rather than uplifting the Malaysian culture that you profess to love so much."

Scheers, in a text to The Star, had this to say,"I’d like to apologise for the misunderstanding and for giving the wrong impression. I have always considered Malaysia as my home and I love this country like no other. Malaysia to me, is a source of inspiration and what makes it special are its people and I’m learning everyday."

She also posted an apology on Nala Designs Instagram page, but it was received with mostly angry comments.

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