Photography Paulius Staniunas | All Is Amazing

tourne de transmission streetcast the politically engaged youth of kuala lumpur

Steve Salter

As a generation of Malaysian people voted for change, the London-based label presented its spring/summer 19 collection at the inaugural Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur.

Photography Paulius Staniunas | All Is Amazing

“I had been considering my options and opted to break the show cycle,” Tourne de Transmission’s creative director Graeme Gaughan explains over email. The day before Vetements rejected the routine of fashion week once more by announcing its return to the couture schedule and a full two weeks before the new show schedule begins, Gaughan’s London-based label presented its spring/summer 19 collection at the inaugural Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur. “Each season I take inspiration from different parts of the world. Gaughan explains. “For autumn/winter 18 it was Haiti and this season is the ancient Lycian city of Patara in Turkey. I was looking at shooting an on-location photo essay but then received the call from Mercedes and the invite to show at its new fashion week.” So, Tourne de Transmission went on tour. Over 6,500 miles and a world away from London Fashion Week Men’s, the cycle was broken and the geographical, sartorial, spiritual and socio-political journey that continually pushes this label forward came to the fore.

“The scene in Kuala Lumpur was mad when we arrived because it was the day of the Malaysian elections,” Gaughan explains. After Brexit and last year’s UK general election, Tourne de Transmission has a habit of showing at moments of political change and spring/summer continued the trend. “The ruling coalition had been in power for 61 years and the people wanted change... which they got!” Keen to reflect this youth-powered movement, Gaughan took to the streets to cast his show. “We were initially presented with a particular aesthetic of model that isn’t us -- big, muscular and hegemonic masculinity -- and struggled to find the level of diversity we needed so we thought fuck it... let’s go out and see who we can find on the streets of KL.” Leaving the comfort and air con of the Chin Woo Stadium show venue behind, the Tourne de Transmission team braved the 35 degree heat and 90% humidity to explore the city and find the right faces.

“We found this 16-year-old punk fan who was on his way to a gig and looked insane rocking a shit ton of fucked up denim and patches. In fact, the place where we were staying and conducting the fittings didn’t even want to let him in at first. He made them nervous. That set the tone. We discovered kids like that across the city... and most importantly found the diversity we needed. Once we had got over the language barriers etc most of them were a bit nervous but all pretty up for doing it. Most of these kids have never been anywhere near a runway and they were buzzing from being given the chance to do something like that. Aside from the palpable political tension in the city, I’ll always remember this experience because of the energy of the kids we found on the streets.”

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.