Amid a pandemic, the local fashion industry spreads love, kindness and empathy

  • Style
  • Monday, 23 Aug 2021

Players in the Malaysian fashion scene was seen turning their attention to help out the needy, as well as lift spirits during the pandemic. Photo: Mimpikita

In rough times, we are often reminded of the need to be compassionate. Helping out others does not require grand gestures, and instead can take the form of just a simple assistance or show of support.

For the local fashion industry, the pandemic has spurred various acts of kindness. Brands and labels have come together to provide for those in need, especially when Malaysia experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases this year.

Modestwear label Mimpikita launched a food bank initiative on its website, whereby fans of the brand can purchase a box (or even more) of food supplies for donation. Each contained necessities like rice, flour, cooking oil, sugar, salt and more.

Over 350 boxes were distributed when July came to a close. Mimpikita worked with various organisations to help ensure they reach those in need.

According to the founders, sisters Nurul, Amirah and Syahira Zulkifli, it was a matter of spreading love, kindness and empathy. They started the initiative to help the less fortunate.

“We understand that people have been struggling for more than a year now. The Covid-19 latest outbreak has caused immense stress and undermined psychological well-being for many. Some lost their jobs and never regained employment,” said Nurul.

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“Those who did regain work are still just trying to catch up. Sometimes, we are told the hardest part is not giving people food, but having families work past their financial insecurities and show up to ask for help,” she added.

While their business has been impacted, the sisters view it as a passing challenge. They instead turned their focus onto helping others.

According to them, the label’s community (dubbed #TheKitaGirls) has shown solidarity. They feel that the fashion industry has stepped up when needed, as well.

“Every day, we saw glimmers of hope, with news that immunisations were rolling out nationwide. As the crisis presented a sense of what is possible, we were compelled to imagine new ways of being with one another. We also had the opportunity to rethink our values and intentions,” commented Amirah.

“Most importantly, at this current stage, we must focus on individuals and families, particularly the most vulnerable, who require our assistance now more than ever,” she added.

Show of support

Other local brands have also pitched in to do their part. Oxwhite has been lending support to the frontliners with hopes of raising their morale.

The fashion label sponsored 800 T-shirts with the slogan “I’m a frontliner, our work saves lives” to volunteers at vaccination centres across the country via a partnership with online telemedicine provider Doc2Us.

A subsequent independent Oxwhite campaign gave away an additional 1,000 T-shirts to doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and more.

For founder CK Chang, it was the experience of getting his Covid-19 vaccine jab that opened his eyes (and heart) and made him want to help.

“I witnessed how tirelessly these volunteers work, and they still managed to keep good spirits while doing their job. This is truly something that warms my heart and that is also the main reason why I have agreed on this sponsorship,” he explained.

Giving away a T-shirt may look like something insignificant, but he feels the very act of acknowledging someone’s contribution can have a long-lasting positive emotional effect.

“Our frontliners have been working very hard and they are undoubtedly the heroes of our country. And this is a small recognition for the heroic acts that they’ve done for all of us,” Chang said.

Oxwhite also gave out 5,000 reusable face masks to the public in June this year. Another 1,500 were donated to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia.

Jewellery brand Wanderlust + Co, on the other hand, focused on helping out children whose wellbeing may have been affected by the pandemic.

Project Happy Bags distributed items like sanitisers, wet wipes, toothbrushes, toothpastes, cookies, cups, toys, stationery, books and masks. In other word, items that can help out with a child’s happiness and general well-being.

Hand-written creative messages were also included to cheer up kids under lockdown, and keep their spirits up.

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The project has reached children far and wide, from those in shelter homes and orphanages to others with long-term illnesses staying in hospital paediatric wards.

Founder Jenn Low said that she felt the need to help as she is a mother herself. Together with her daughter, she packed some of the bags that were donated.

“What started out as a personal project with my four-year-old, Olivia, turned into a public fund raising when I received queries on Instagram from Malaysians, which included those residing overseas,” she noted.

“Within 24 hours, we received more than 400 pledged notes from Malaysians and raised more than RM10,000 – tallying up to more than RM62,000 (at the end of July).”

Low added that she sees the project as an add-on to food-aid initiatives others have started. To her, it has highlighted the Malaysian spirit of giving and generosity.

“While food aid is essential, what I wanted to do was to provide a source of motivation and encouragement for those who are going through a hard time,” she said.

Read more about how Malaysians come together to help out in Malaysia’s Covid-19 journey in a special pullout on Merdeka day.

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