The heat from the just-concluded KLFW2022 (Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2022) is still not over. After the explosion incident at Pavilion KL and rich people getting over their heads, as exposed by Karl Shafek and Ning Baizura, fashion designer Kel Wen (楷文) has been getting a lot of berating from the Malay community online.
Kel Wen, the creative director of the Malaysian traditional modern apparel Behati, attended the fashion show and presented his brand on Sunday (21st August). He uploaded pictures of himself donning an oversized puff jacket with just a songket sampin underneath.
What triggered the netizens was that while he was practically ‘half-naked’, he also sported a songkok. The songkok is a tightly fitting brimless cap with a flat top and straight sides that is typically made of silk, felt, or velvet. In Southeast Asia, Muslim men wear it during formal religious functions or prayers.
The netizen’s comments regarding the issue are hard to chew on, especially when some accused him of disrespecting and appropriating the Malay culture. “Do you consider it stylish to go shirtless, with only shorts while wearing the ‘songkok’?” and “Stop using ‘songkok’ as your prop,” few comments read.
The designer then justified his attire ensemble on his Instagram page and explained he had no intentions to mock any religion with his fashion choice. He wrote that having growing up among Muslims in Malaysia influenced his art and style. “I’m not a Muslim, but wearing a ‘songkok’ signifies that I accept and learn the religion in my own personal lifestyle,” he said.
Kel Wen also explained through his post about his research on songkok and how the headwear is not solely used for prayers but also a formal cultural headgear. He added, “To show my knees while wearing a ‘songkok’ is the same concept as a Hijabi who wears a headscarf with her neck out.”
Celebrities such as singer Aina Abdul and actor Yusof Hashim supported the Melaka-born designer’s justification for his fashion choice. Kel Wen recently revealed his latest collection, “Peranakan” at KLFW2022 with DS Vida as his muse.
Anis Sharina contributed to this article.