Oct 28 2011
I’ve already covered international clothing labels available in Phnom Penh, but did you know there are local designers, too?
There are a number of Cambodian designers and Cambodians raised abroad who have come back to Cambodia and are now designers: SCT (Sar Chantho) is a Cambodian designer based in Phnom Penh outfitting locals and expats; Lady Penh Designs on Sisowath Quay offer a selection of casual cotton dresses, tops and handbags; and Romy Daketh, who runs Ambre, is a favourite among well-heeled Khmers and expats.
Also jostling for position in the market are a number of foreign-born designers now based in Cambodia and working with Cambodian artisans and textiles to create their unique styles. KeoK’jay‘s fashion-forward designs compliment their green business practices and goal to offer employment to women living with HIV. Wanderlust features brightly-coloured cotton dresses, casual tops and shirt-dresses; while they’re Siem Reap-based, they do have a store on Street 240 in Phnom Penh. Madagascar-born designer, Eric Raisina, has been based in Cambodia for 10 years, creating “haute texture” out of Cambodian silk.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Cambodian fashion industry, and not just the part that takes place in garment factories, consider attending Cambodia Fashion Week’s Fashion Exhibition. Taking place on November 5 and 6, the fashion exhibition will feature Cambodian designers from abroad as well as expat designers based in Cambodia (designers Ambre and Wanderlust mentioned above will not be featured, but all other designers listed will be.)
I talked to Caitlin Padgett, the producer of the event. “I’m really excited about the exhibition because it provides the opportunity for people in Phnom Penh to access designers that don’t usually have retail spaces here. Some will actually be selling their collections from the fashion shows, a whole season early,” Padgett said. “The exhibition brings a really interesting and innovative group of designers together in one space, and includes runway shows that feature more accessible day wear and ready-to-wear looks.”
And while Cambodia Fashion Week might be a polarising event — some think it’s in poor taste and not representative of “true” Cambodian fashion, which favours bold prints and pyjama-like pieces over couture — even the skeptics will appreciate the fact that CFW’s Fashion Exhibition will feature a showcase of items from Cambodia-based socially responsible businesses and NGOs, including Friends International, Good Krama, Push Pull Cambodia, Keok’Jay and La’Or.
“The ethical fashion showcase merges fashion and socially responsible designs and production,” Padgett said. “These designers maintain the importance of preserving traditional techniques in interesting and modern fusion fashion.”
The two-day event will feature runway shows, music, canapes and champagne.
Cambodia Fashion Week Fashion Exhibition
November 5, 10:00-17:00
November 6, 11:00-18:00
Canadia Tower, 6th Floor
St 110 and Monivong Blvd, Phnom Penh
Entrance fees are $15 for one day, or $25 for both days.
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