Stories of the fabrics

Tribally inspired designs

Each of the fabrics used has a meaning and story behind it. As we look to use fashion as a way of connecting with Sabahan culture here are some of the stories associated with the most popular fabrics.

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The story of our Inompoling fabric is one from the ethnic Rungus people from the north of Sabah. The story goes that a young lady was engaged to be married. Her fiancé went into the forest to hunt for provisions for their wedding feast. He took with him his inompoling, a traditional hunting weapon, which is the X shaped pattern. The young bride-to-be began to grow very worried as she waited for her fiancé. She went into the forest to find calmness and hoped to see her fiancé return as she waited, but after some time she began to lose hope and imagined the worst had probably taken place. She imagined he must have been bitten by a deadly tinugarang lizard. The young bride designed the vinusak pattern, the diamond and x, which was her depiction of the natural antidote, the vusak, to this deadly lizzard’s bite. As she finished up her weaving, she heard a noise in the forest. To her surprise, her fiancé returned safely with provisions for their wedding, so the story ends on a happy note.

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This Bunga fabric motif is used by many of the different people groups around Sabah. Our specific pattern this season was inspired by a craft made with the technique “linangkit”, the traditional craft of needle working. In modern times now, ladies sew these designs using cross-stitching, but in times gone by, this would have been an even more labor-intensive craft as the thread was essentially woven by hand on its own using a needle to create these designs. The lingankit handicraft is most commonly seen on the rungus sukolob, which is a black dress. The strip of patterned needling working is then sewn from the top to the bottom of the dress to add some design.

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Our kapas fabric this season is inspired by the Iranun tribe. This tribe generally hails from Kota Belud. Two of the designs that you’ll see on the fabric are called Sunding and Unsudagapas. Both of these designs stem from a plant called the kapas in Malay. In many of the Iranun motifs, you see shapes that come from the cotton tree, or kapas, as it was the traditional plant used to make thread. They would use the cotton fiber from the tree and twist it into a thread. After the thread was formed, they would dye these using natural dyes. Finally, they would use this natural thread to weave fabrics used as head dresses or samping.