“TO much of Cactorian is the origin of the fabric, “says Majdah Fareed. The creator of Kuching launched the historic brand in August last year to tell multicultural stories through clothing and accessories.
Cactorian prides itself on traditional fabrics such as batik and songket, synonymous with Malaysia’s cultural art and national identity.
By transforming these elaborate fabrics into timeless blazers, Majdah said: “When you wear the pieces, you are essentially telling a story and showing the identity of a long-standing legacy. I think it’s safe to say that fashion for many people is a form of self-expression. “
How much has your experience abroad influenced you?
Living in Cuba and Romania made me understand a different way of living and somehow translated into my passion for clothes. When you live in a foreign land, it is only natural that you see the differences in your culture and theirs, whether in clothing, language or food.
Whenever there was an opportunity to represent Malaysia, such as attending international cultural bazaars, I would wear my traditional Iban clothing and promote the culture of our country.
My favorite part of those events was watching people in their traditional goodies. They are so culturally rich and unique that they make me want to learn more about the country.
I think that historical fabric patterns are definitely an art worth exploring.
How did you come to found Cactorian?
On many formal occasions abroad, I would dress elegantly but I would try not to repeat the same baju kurung that I have worn many times.
I would think about how to pair a white shirt with pants and still represent my culture and my country. So I thought an outerwear made of batik and songket would do just that.
I had my first songket blazer made in 2014, using a fabric that should have been used as a sampin. The final product was exactly what I imagined: a mandarin collar blazer in the grandeur of songket fabric.
After wearing the piece to many events and receiving compliments, I suggested the idea to those around me, hoping someone would turn it into a business but it didn’t catch on.
I let it sit until January last year, when I decided to make myself three blazers to wear in Fridays batik. It was then that the idea came back to me. One of the seamstresses told me it was a unique idea and that I should start selling it.
How is Cactorian associated with the identity of “Storytelling Heritage”?
The most significant part of a piece of fabric is the identity of its origin and time-honored techniques: the values, beliefs and stories that are intertwined (in songket) and the elements of flora and fauna in batik.
The occasions when these traditional dresses are worn are all part of history.
What is the procurement and creation process of prints and the release of a collection?
We don’t currently make our own variations of batik and songket motifs, but we’d love to someday. Initially, my partner and I looked for prints that fit our tastes and what we think others would be willing to wear. Now that we have a growing customer base, we often seek feedback from customers and the people around us.
Releasing our first Fleur collection was the most difficult. We didn’t know if there was a market, we had doubts and we didn’t know what to expect. But we ended up stocking the collection due to the requests we got from our Instagram ads.
How has social media contributed to the brand?
Social media is our solution for almost everything, including advertising, content creation, and it’s also where we look for inspiration.
It helps us to get information on the articles that people like and, by operating online, we have been able to enter the international market.
The downside is that we’re competing with other more established brands with a large following.