Monogatari (Japanese: 物語, [monoɡaꜜtaɾi]), to put it simply, is the translation of ‘kisah’ in the Japanese language. As the founder and creative director of Kissahh, I choose to name my latest collection ‘MONOGATARI’ because it tells a lot of stories that resonate with Japan including my personal story, and how the designs are inspired by the Japanese culture and philosophies.
Let’s start with my personal monogatari. The ancestral history that, until today, remains a mystery. My late grandmother is believed to be Japanese. Although there is no solid proof to this, and even after her passing, the truth still remains a mystery. I grew up listening to stories about her being a Japanese girl being adopted by a Malay family before the World War II. I learned how back in the 1930s, there were already quite a number of Japanese settlements in Malaya - most of them were said to be military spies. My grandmother’s given name was Halijah, and she was my father’s mother. She was adopted in Kajang, but in her teens, she was married off to my grandfather, who was a Tok Sidang of village in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. My grandfather lost his first wife due to sickness, and married my grandmother in his second marriage, and they were blessed with 12 children.Throughout her life and as long as I knew her, my grandmother kept mum about her origins. We tried to ask about her origin, but she avoided the questions and refused to talk about it even to her own children. Nobody knows why.
Although we don’t know much about her history, and the truth still remains a mystery, this is as much as we know. Back then, my grandmother looked different from the locals, and because she was also still young when she got married, she couldn’t really adapt to the local culture. I don’t blame her though, because the Minang/Negeri Sembilan culture and traditions can be quite complicated too! Given that my grandmother was a ‘foreigner’ who married the Tok Sidang, she was not well accepted by the villagers. Everyone in the village called her “Lijah Jepun”, and they were apparently not very welcoming. I guess it was really tough back then to be different and ostracised for being an outsider. My grandmother didn’t have many friends in the village, so she spent most of her time at home. She chose to be alone and she kept herself busy by raising her children.
Being raised by a Malay family, my grandmother carried the values of humility, accommodating and politeness throughout her life. Although she didn’t speak any Japanese nor did she practice the traditions, I could see some Japanese values in her for being pragmatic and embracing harmony, order and self-development for herself, her family and her surrounding community. The values that my grandmother carried, were passed down to my father and his siblings, to my generation and hopefully to the next generation. These important values make who I am today, and through Kissahh as my medium, the MONOTAGARI collection is a tribute to my grandmother and my interpretation of Japanese pragmatism and values in fashion.
The MONOGATARI collection is inspired by the Japanese minimalistic culture and values. In the fashion and style context, this collection is inspired by a cosmopolitan citizen who seeks functionality and practicality without giving up sophistication. Try imagining yourself in Tokyo and feel the sensation you get while trying to navigate your way through the Shibuya Crossing. Metaphorically, just like our busy and noisy life, this is a phenomenon that demands to be explored and discovered. In the midst of our navigation in this (noisy) life, a minimalistic wardrobe is the most practical way to go. Cliche, but “less is more”.
Aligned with Kissahh as a brand, the MONOGATARI collection is centred around timelessness and simplicity. The pieces are designed with clean, complementary lines that are sculpted with a bit of an architectural flare. The collection sticks to a monochromatic and neutral colour palettes to maintain as something low-key, and we believe that being low-key isn’t a bad thing at all. The philosophy behind wearing something subtle and low-key is that it actually allows you to express your individuality, and a good basic item will make the individuality of the wearer stand out. Parallel to Kissahh’s values, the minimalistic features of the MONOGATARI collection are meant to make you, the wearer, the main star of your style and your story.
Despite being basic, this collection is far from being plain and boring. As an extension to our first collection STORYTELLER, the MONOGATARI collection continues to advocate subtle and sophisticated styles with muted colours and high quality fabrics. For this collection, we are also offering individual pieces that also come in coordination sets. Either wear them as a monochromatic set, or crossing the colours, or match it individually with your favourite wardrobe essentials, our chosen neutral palette will never go wrong. We highly believe that muted tones are easier on the eyes, and with a softer and relaxed look, it gives a more mature and sophisticated image. We also believe in adding a little bit of fun in our designs, because for Kissahh, fun is equally important too. In MONOGATARI, we maintain our signature embroideries and also explored colour blocking while adding some subtle quirky features such as random button threads and details.
It took us a while to curate and launch this collection after our Raya22 collection back in March 2022. As a practitioner of slow fashion, we took the time to carefully and consciously develop, source and produce good quality pieces for you. We hope our MONOGATARI resonates with you and your lifestyle, and we hope you’re as excited as we are! As it’s also one of my main purpose in Kissahh, I personally hope my collections are able to bring out your true personality and individuality, and most importantly make you look and feel good. Look no further, your MONOGATARI starts now. Explore the collection in our website, subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on our social handles to be the first to know about our updates on Kissahh. Enjoy!