Pink, yellow, red.... This Hari Raya Aidil Fitri the baju Melayu will certainly make a statement, going by the current trend for vivid colours, writes Sushma Veera
IT’S official. If the colours of baju Melayu seen hanging in stores in the city are anything to go by, pink is in.
With more men expressing their individuality through clothes, the colour pink seems to be gaining popularity in their wardrobes.
According to designer Salikin Sidek, pink, especially in bright, daring shades, is trendy this Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. More youngsters are opting for that tone. Other loud and vibrant colours like bright yellow and red are also in demand.
“They say pink is the colour of peace and it is no longer associated with women. Men too can wear pink. When I was young, my mum made me a baju Melayu in this shade,” recalls Salikin, who is known for his traditional wear.
“Today, many men prefer bright monotones to embrace the spirit of Aidil Fitri,” he says, adding that the more common shades of white, grey, silver and blue are still sought after.
His boutique in Ampang Park, Kuala Lumpur, stocks pink baju Melayu in shades from pastel to shocking fuchsia.
Salikin notices that colours and designs can be grouped according to the different ages.
“Those in their 20s will go for bold colours and classic black. They also like to be different and often opt for baju Melayu with stripes and chequered patterns or those with meticulously-sewn embellishments,” he says. “The middle-aged prefers autumn colours like maroon, jade green and royal blue while the older generation sticks to classic pastels and plain designs.” explains Salikin.
CARE AND COMFORT
Styled for comfort, Salikin’s ready-to-wear baju Melayu are made from lightweight fabrics such as silk, satin or cotton, and prints that give the wearer a unique look.
Salikin says that cuts of yesteryear — from the 1970s and 1980s are also the rage.
“For the top, the young prefer a modern cut, which is without the side panels or pesak, while the older generation prefers the traditional cut,” he says.
Instead of baju Melayu cekak musang with its raised stiff collar, more men are opting for baju Melayu Teluk Belanga from Johor, which is also worn by men from the East Coast states.
This has a collar hemmed with stiff stitching called tulang belut and ends with a small loop at the top of one side to fit a singular dress stud called kancing.
When I mention that baju Melayu looks good with jeans, Salikin agrees, saying that this trend is common among younger men.
“Several years ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000, the popularity of baju Melayu waned, especially among the young. But in the last five years, it has picked up, especially after the government encouraged men to wear baju Melayu on Fridays. Local celebrities wearing baju Melayu at functions also helps.” He says designers are also coming up with new designs to cater to evolving tastes in this traditional garment.
Salikin says a baju Melayu is incomplete without a kain sampin, often a finely-woven piece of songket or kain tenun. One can pick matching tones or contrasting ones.
In the last few years, he says kain tenun has become more popular.
There are different ways to tie kain sampin. With the baju Melayu cekak musang, he says kain sampin is often worn over the shirt, in the style known as sampin dagang luar.
With baju Melayu Teluk Belanga, it is worn under the top, in the style known as sampin dagang dalam.
But lately, men are seen to wear it under the top, regardless of the neckline style. But at formal functions or weddings, the sampin is still worn the traditional way.
He also says it can be tied in a variety of ways like pareo style, where the flow and asymmetrical draping is soft and artistic. It is normally up to the creativity of the wearer.
Salikin adds that men should complete their baju Melayu ensemble look with a songkok and capal in brown, white or black.
Tie it right
According to designer Salikin Sidek, kain sampin can be worn in various lengths — up to the knees, slightly below the knees, or up to mid-calf.
“Usually, single men tie it above or exactly at the knee, while married ones would tie the sampin below their knees.”