AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017: Cambodia Auditions

By Irvin Hanni

AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017: Cambodia Auditions

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The AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017 recently made a pit stop to Cambodia in the lookout for young and innovative fashion designers.

Sashaying into its third year, the AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search (AARRDS) has expanded its audition rounds to all ten ASEAN countries this year, ending the 2017 leg with its tenth and last audition held in Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh on 16 June.

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Joining familiar fixture Andrew Tan (Founder of KL Fashion Week RTW) for this round of auditions were Pornpun Ratanapitakkul (Marketing Manager Indochina for AirAsia), Tan Hooi Min (Head of Buying for FashionValet), Natacha Van (Cambodian Fashion Designer), and Don Protasio (Creative Director for Fashion Lab magazine).

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The same process flow was applied here, just like in Vietnam and Myanmar auditions. Participants had a chance to impress the panel of judges with their design during Round 1, covering aspects such as mood board, a collection of three designs, and fabrication. The finalists were then narrowed down to the top nine, proceeding to Round 2. This was the part where more practical details were discussed, and questions such as target market, pricing, and sustainability were put into consideration. And after a final round of discussion and point tabulations, two fashion hopefuls were chosen to represent Cambodia at the Grand Finale of AARRDS 2017 in Kuala Lumpur this August.

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Both finalists are currently pursuing undergraduate studies in Fashion Design at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology Cambodia, and look up to Alexander McQueen as their idol. 21-year-old Leach Savunthpenghuy fell in love with the world of fashion when he was 10, pumped up by the flashy runway shows that he religiously watched on television. Though only on the third semester of his course, he showed a lot of flair in his monochrome collection that was inspired by the traditional Rama-Khmer shadow art.

Meanwhile for 22-year-old Kong Sothea, who titled his collection ‘Nation of Power’, spending almost 2 months working on the digital flowery patterns and imbuing them onto his mod chic design didn’t feel like a long time, considering he has been sketching fashion and other things in his free time since he was just 6 years old.

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Both finalists stand a chance to win 150,000 AirAsia BIG Points; MYR 25,000 (approximately USD 5,800) to produce a capsule collection to be sold on; a six-page fashion spread in AirAsia’s in-flight magazine, travel 3Sixty°; AirAsia flights and mentorship from the KLFW RTW, as well as a confirmed slot to showcase their full collection in KL Fashion Week RTW 2018.

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Closing the auditions leg of the competition, Andrew Tan touches on the significance of AARRDS, “This is not a normal contest, not about getting a trophy or certificate. It is a uniquely designed competition that has the capacity to develop the winner into the business of fashion. What’s exciting is that the prizes can help grow the winner.” It certainly is true, as not only will the winner be coached by a local designer assigned to each country as they work on their final collection for the competition, they can also utilise the 150,000 AirAsia BIG points to travel and be inspired by different sights, cultures, and experiences.

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The AARRDS 2017 Grand Finale will take place in Kuala Lumpur on 18 August, in conjunction with Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week RTW 2017 event. For more info, visit the AARRDS 2017 website or you can also check out AirAsia’s YouTube for webisodes featuring the journey of all participants for AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2017.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Phnom Penh from Kuala Lumpur and various destinations. For lowest fares and flight info, visit

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About the Author

Irvin Hanni

She is happiest when cycling in a foreign destination, rubbing noses with a cat, or napping by a lake. Her goal is to touch every owl, monkey, puppy, tiger, and turtle that she meets on her travels.

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