Spanning months of searching for the best of the best out of ASEAN, the AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017 finally came to an end on the 18th of August, 2017, at the Grand Finale held during Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready to Wear 2017 in Pavillion, Kuala Lumpur. In addition to that, the winner of AARRDS 2016, Anuruk Jaidee of Thailand, also had the opportunity to reveal his collection on the runway.

Twenty finalists from across all ten ASEAN countries came together in one extravagant event, as all of them showcased the fruits of their labour in front of the judges as well as invited guests and the media. However, there can only be one grand prize winner!

Bringing home the grand prize for the fifth year of AARRDS was Vietnam’s very own Tran Thi Tu, whose collection was inspired by her hometown of Hanoi, specifically the culture of pottery and the patterns and textures it evokes. Her designs were bursting with colours and amazing detailing, enough to sway the judges to her favour at the end of the day. The grand prize not only includes a confirmed show segment to showcase their full collection at KLFW RTW 2018, but also a fund of MYR25,000 sponsored by FashionValet to produce a capsule collection to be sold on fashionvalet.com, 150,000 AirAsia BIG Points, a six-page fashion spread in AirAsia’s Travel3Sixty inflight magazine, a special feature in Female Malaysia magazine and a pair of AirAsia return flights. Aside from that, Ms. Tran has also won a year-long mentorship from the KLFW RTW team to aid her as she reinvents her collection to be more ready-to-wear for its launch on Fashion Valet.

PHOTO: AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017 | Tran Thi Tu of Vietnam and her winning collection

Tran Thi Tu, whose seemingly quiet and soft demeanour belies a true confidence, states that she entered the competition with the intention to win, same as any normal contestant. Despite the financial hardships she faced and the difficulties of finding the materials for her designs as she had to order most of them from overseas, she continued to press on and merely hoped for the best, having to rely on her own throughout the process. When asked of her future plans, she hopes to further her studies in order to one day create her own brand.

Andrew Tan, founder of Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready to Wear spoke of the untapped fashion potential in the different countries, and how the AARRDS serves as a gateway for these designers to showcase their talent on an international scale. “Going to all these different places, learning of the culture and the struggles that each place has in terms of the fashion industry, I was emotionally affected by it all. To me, we have a mission to make sure the top two winners for each country, to see the potential of how they will grow in the future for fashion.”

Aireen Omar, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Bhd, said, “It was a rather emotional journey for some, because not all of the countries could provide the opportunity to display the talent and create the awareness of how these designers could create something so beautiful, interesting and relevant for the entire region. The whole idea was to connect everybody, not just through flights, but also through lifestyle and fashion.”

PHOTO: AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017 | Ms. Tran Thi Tu’s collection

Finally, Vivy Yusof, Co-Founder of Fashion Valet, divulges that as the collections from the winners will be sold on the site, this would be their opportunity to introduce and display their work on a regional scale. “That’s why I feel this synergy is so beautiful. AirAsia lets us travel to discover them, KL Fashion Week allows the chance to showcase them and Fashion Valet lets us sell them.”

Once again, our heartiest congratulations to the winner, Ms. Tran Thi Tu, as well as all the finalists that participated in the Grand Finale!