The traditional garb of these dolls are all hand-sewn by a retired award-winning local fashion designer. This is Adrian’s Collectibles, which feature traditional wear of our country’s multicultural races and wedding designs. Each doll showcases the talent of an expert.
His favourite piece is a miniature of the Malacca Nyonya Baba wedding outfit.
The doll is dressed in a heavy embroidered ceremonial outfit with broad sleeves and a cape of small knit flaps. The cape represents the feathers of a phoenix’s neck, symbolising the union of yin and yang.
It’s one of many creations by Adrian Ong, a designer with history in the entertainment and fashion industry.
He has designed clothing for notable local artists like Siti Nurhaliza, Vanidah Imran, Dato’ Malik Mydin and Mustafah Kamal during his early fashion designing years in the 1990s.
After stepping out of the fashion spotlight, he now uses his talent and skills in a different way to help single parents.
Making it mini
By day, Adrian is a full-time operations manager of Parents Without Partners (PWP). When inspiration strikes by night, he picks up his needle and puts his skills to work.
His miniature craft started 8 years ago, with the purpose of establishing a unique trademark product for Jumble Station, which is a community outreach initiative by PWP.
The initiative collects second-hand household items like old books and clothing. These are then resold to raise funds for single parents living in poverty, usually at a cheaper price.
His passion for doing what he does comes from knowing firsthand the difficulties of being a single parent. “I myself am a single father of 4 lovely girls. I have been fostering them since they were babies, so I more or less know how tough single parents’ lives can be,” he shared, “From bringing up their kids to playing dual roles as father and mother. It’s not easy.”
Turning trash to cash
Just like making clothing for humans, he pays particular attention to ensuring that the cuttings fit well on the dolls.“Depending on the design, it takes me about 3 days to a week to complete,” Adrian said.
The attention to detail seen in Adrian’s Collectibles is one that would amaze anyone who sees them on a shelf.
“I do plenty of homework to get my ideas from the internet, visit museums, and flip through reference books,” he shared. Some of his designs comprise miniaturised versions of his family members’ wedding costumes.
In an interview with New Straits Times, he said that the idea of creating traditional clothing for dolls actually came from his eldest daughter, Farah Nisha.
As no one was buying the second-hand dolls being sold at Jumble Station, she suggested that he put his designing skills to dress up the dolls before selling them. All the fabric meticulously sewn together is cut from real clothing that was donated to the store too.
“People used to send clothing which were no longer usable. So, I get to reuse them for my dolls, turning trash to cash,” he said. The only items he buys are the accessories and shoes worn by the dolls, which can cost up to RM50.
What he earns goes straight to charity
Adrian’s Collectibles is sold at a minimum of RM150 per doll, while pairs are sold at RM300.
“I have customers all throughout Malaysia and Singapore. They are mostly collectors from government sectors and doll lovers,” he shared. “Some buy them for display, others for birthday and wedding gifts.”
All of the proceeds go to PWP’s funding activities, which include monthly aid for groceries and education for the children of these single parents, to name a few.
Editor’s Note: Parts of the above paragraph have been edited to reflect greater accuracy of the statement.
Besides raising funds, the collection also functions as a revival of Malaysia’s forgotten art.
“My goal is also to educate younger generations about our beautiful costumes in Malaysia as most have forgotten it nowadays,” said Adrian.
In line with that motive, he hopes to one day display his craft in a big Malaysian art exhibition.
- You can learn more about Jumble Station here, and Parents Without Partners here.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Adrian Ong