In 2015, I began this series to explore the intersection of popular culture with traditional garments and fanart as a means of storytelling. Each baju design is a representation of a character or idea from the source material - a love letter to the stories which have inspired me. I’m interested in how the process of translation, adaptation, and reimagination adds to the original work while also raising new questions.

 
  • A Higher Order (The Lord of the Rings)

  • Power Play (The Hunger Games)

  • Vigilante Justice (Watchmen)

  • World’s End (coming soon)

  • True Heart (coming soon)

  • Space Opera (Mass Effect)

  • Dawn and Dusk (coming soon)

  • Robots and Monsters (Pacific Rim)

  • Desert Rage (coming soon)

  • Faith and Fortune (coming soon)


Literature


A Higher Order (The Lord of the Rings)

Based on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien.

FIREWORKS
Fill the skies with the finest rockets ever seen in this silk baju kurung.

An update to the baju gives it tab sleeves that reveal a lighter interior lining.

THE BROWN
Care for the earth in this rough cotton baju kurung with selendang.

The selendang can be used for multiple purposes, including covering the head and carrying infants.

SHADOW AND FLAME
Dwell in darkness in this fiery outfit.

The Minangkabau horned headdress, tengkuluk tanduk, is made from folded fabric and can be ornately decorated with gold jewellery.

THE WHITE
Step forth wreathed in many colours.

Sarong printed with the batik wax resist technique are common in the region, worn for casual and formal occasions.

 

Power Play (The Hunger Games)

Based on ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins.

WHITE AS SNOW
Walk spotless and pure in a white silk baju Melayu with songket.

Floral and geometric patterns are commonly woven into songket with gold or silver threads.

PLAYING WITH FIRE
Draw all eyes to you with an embroidered Punjabi suit and jagged, slashed, dupatta.

The dupatta is a shawl-like scarf worn over the shoulder.

FASHION WITHOUT FEAR
You don't need to shout to make a statement with this understated look.

Baju Melayu can be worn with or without the samping, in formal and casual occasions.

 

Vigilante Justice (Watchmen)

Based on ‘Watchmen’ by Alan Moore and Dave McKean.

WATCHMAKER
Move puppets on strings as you float past in a silk áo dài.

A blend of Eastern and Western sensibilities, the Vietnamese áo dài has evolved over the years to its current tight-fitting form.

THIS CITY IS AFRAID OF ME
Black and white vigilanteism is often gruesome; come dress for the work.

The kebaya is worn all over Southeast Asia, combining a delicate sheer blouse with a wrap.

QUEEN OF QUEENS
Build your empire for others to look upon and despair.

Modern versions of the baju kurung abound, featuring shorter and form-fitting cuts.

I AM PAGLIACCI
Tell a joke in this printed and embroidered Punjabi suit.

The Punjabi kameez is also paired with jeggings instead of the looser salwar.


Video Games


Space Opera (Mass Effect)

Based on the Mass Effect trilogy by BioWare.

SHEPARD
Save the galaxy in a baju with black velvet ornamentation and red and white embroidery.

The Cekak Musang style of baju features a standing collar with buttons.

SCIENTIST SALARIAN
Be the very model of a scientist salarian in an embroidered baju kurung.

The simplicity of the baju kurung lends itself to adaptation and ornamentation.

OMNITACTICIAN
Command with ease in a modern kebaya.

The sheer, intricately decorated kebaya is traditionally worn over kemben and now camisoles or other undergarments.

SHARPSHOOTER
Rack up some headshots in this fine gold and silver-woven baju with selendang.

Gold and silver threads are woven into kain tenun for a dazzling effect.


Film & TV


Robots and Monsters (Pacific Rim)

Based on ‘Pacific Rim’ by Guillermo del Toro.

ALL SUITED UP
Get down to business in a leather and pleated chiffon ensemble.

Fashion meets function for the forward-looking pilot.

HUNTER
Pilot 20,000 tons of awesome with all the pockets you need on a crushed silk bolero.

Wearable LEDs are incorporated into a layered baju kurung for a controllable effect.

CREATURE COMFORTS
Destroy fashion fads in a soft asymmetrical hoodie with wearable LED strips.

Wear it at home, on the bus, at school - when you’re a monster no one can tell you what to do.

CAPE CALM & CHASM
Stay focused and warm in a thermal-blocking cape and ombre scarf.

Keep out the cold and rain during the yearly monsoons.


 

The aim of this series is not to directly convert a character’s existing clothing into baju, but to incorporate the idea - their personality, beliefs, themes - through textiles, patterns, buttons, trims, shawls, garment cut, and so on. I explore and work with the visual language that's already been established for each garment, while taking liberties where necessary.

The Geeky Baju Project has been featured on Poskod.my and Mashable Asia, and I spoke about the process of designing them during a radio interview on BFM 89.9’s I Love KL segment. More to come in December 2018!