Actress Siti Saleha, in collaboration with Poplook, has put together a limited edition collection to raise funds for Cancer Research Malaysia.

SITI Saleha Baharum is without doubt the most popular and sought-after young actress today. Starting with her first acting gig in television drama Nora Elena in 2011, she now has more than 50 dramas, telemovies and movies under her belt.

She is also the face of many local and international brands including Puma, Acuvue and Palmolive. To say that the multiple award-winning actress leads a hectic life is an understatement. But what many do not realise is that Siti Saleha is also passionate about humanitarian issues. Even before becoming a superstar, Siti Saleha (KL Zombi and Aku Bukan Spy) was involved in various fundraising activities and community programmes.

Among the organisations she has supported are Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society, Juara Turtle Project, Project WHEE!, Petronas’ Program Sentuhan Kasih and Malaysian Rare Disorders Society.

Therefore, it is no wonder that the 27-year-old was eager to work with Poplook for the brand’s Gives Back campaign that pursues philanthropy through fashion.

The collaboration supports Cancer Research Malaysia in conjunction with breast cancer awareness month in October. Thirty per cent from the sale of the limited edition collection will be donated to the non-profit research organisation dedicated to the prevention and cure of cancer-linked diseases in the country and the Asian region.

“I’ve always known about Poplook and its give back programmes. They have worked with celebrities before and that intrigues me. When Poplook co-founder Joanne (Low) approached me in April to work together, I quickly said yes. It is the first time I am collaborating with a fashion brand as usually I just get involved directly with the charity organisations,” says Siti Saleha.

However, the collaboration had to be shelved for a short time as she was busy preparing for her wedding in July. After the ceremony, she got together again with Poplook fashion designer Nik Amanina Liyana Nik Abd Aziz to discuss the collection.

“Since it was near October, we thought of coming up with a collection which would help raise awareness of breast cancer. We eventually decided to raise funds for Cancer Research Malaysia because it not only focuses on breast cancer but other cancers as well.”


Siti Saleha in Finnegan blouse with embroidery and ruffled cap sleeves in navy, matched with Emilio jeans, part of Poplook Gives Back collection.

CHRYSANTHEMUM FLOWER

The eight-piece collection comprises blouses, jeans and pants in black, white, dark blue and yellow. There are also headscarves. The central motif of the collection is the chrysanthemum flower. Symbolic of long life, good luck and hope, this flower that blossoms just before winter embodies the essence of this collection.

The pink ribbon — the symbol of breast cancer — is inserted in every piece. Earthy, neutral colours were chosen for this collection so that the wearer can mix and match easily.

“There is a lot of embroidery too because Amanina says it reflects my personality. We also included the pink ribbon in the embroidery which I thought was a great idea. These pieces are simple and sweet and can be worn either to the office or as casual wear. People love the collection and I was told it’s sold out,” says Siti Saleha.


The collection included embroidered scarves

While it may be the first time she is working with a fashion brand to raise funds for Cancer Research Malaysia, it is actually the second time she is helping the research body.

When preparing for her wedding, Siti Saleha was looking for the perfect door gift for guests and a friend suggested something related to cancer. It may seem like an odd door gift for a wedding but Siti Saleha loved the idea. Her manager found out about Cancer Research Malaysia and its work. Siti Saleha then met with its founder Professor Teo Soo-Hwang.

Eventually, each guest received “cancer pins”. Siti Saleha also donated to Cancer Research Malaysia under their names. “It was an eye-opening experience for me because cancer is hard to cure. It is sad to know there are people who are trying to survive breast cancer or any other type of cancer. I’m just trying my best to help.

“I want to work with Cancer Research Malaysia whenever I can because I think it is important to raise awareness. I have been using my social media platform to tag my friends and followers about it and they have asked me questions. It is a great start.”

 

GROWTH IN FASHION

Although she is not in the high risk group for breast cancer, it does not mean Siti Saleha is taking it lightly. She follows a healthy lifestyle, which includes a balanced diet, exercise and regular medical screenings.

“I’m not going to take my health for granted because it is important. I do a breast self examination every morning. It’s better to know rather than not know.”

While cancer may be a new issue for Siti Saleha, fashion is not. Over the years her style has evolved although she still likes to keep it simple. “I learnt everything about style and design slowly as there was no one to teach me. When I look back at my style during the beginning of my career, I can only say ‘what was I thinking!’. But thank God I never made it to the worst dressed list.

“Now, I finally know my style. I like to keep it edgy but simple. The fashion designers and stylists I have worked with know what I like and don’t like. But keeping it simple does not mean I don’t like embellishments. If there is a need for ruffles, for example, I’m fine with that but I keep it small and simple.

“Although I do have stylists, they are only for certain events. I prefer to style myself because I want people to see who Siti Saleha really is as opposed to what they see in dramas or movies. I know what works and what doesn’t.”

Her favourite local designers are Alia Bastamam, Nurita Harith and Ellie Norman, who is also her best friend. Nurita designed Siti Saleha’s champagne-hued gown for her wedding dinner reception. As for foreign fashion designers, she says the list is endless. She also likes the celebrity styles of Jennifer Lawrence and Vanidah Imran.

Siti Saleha loves everything lace and chiffon but no fur or leopard prints, please. “They are just tacky,” she says. And no skinny, torn and patchy jeans either. “They were fine when I was younger but not anymore. Besides, my husband would not approve.”

She loves pastel colours, and purple, though lately she has been drawn to fuchsia. “When I see clothes in fuchsia, I just walk into the store because I’m so attracted to them. I don’t like to be boring, which in my opinion is wearing black every other day. I don’t have favourite clothes as I like to wear whatever I’m comfortable with and is suitable for the events I attend. 

“To me, you can follow trends but don’t let it drown your personality. If you like simple, keep it trendy and simple.”

 

IN MEMORY OF A CAT


Models at the launch of Poplook Gives Back with Siti Saleha. (Picture by Nurul Syazana Rose Razman

THE Poplook Gives Back campaign began in 2015 in memory of its office cat, Poppy. The brand created Thoughtful Pouches, and the proceeds were donated to SPCA Selangor and Melaka.

The second collaboration was with Tun Jeanne Abdullah and Landskap Malaysia. Poplook created the rainforest scarf, available in three shades. The proceeds were used to plant Anisoptera Scaphula trees in Malaysia.

Last year, Poplook collaborated with actress Lisa Surihani for a collection based on drawings by children of the Generating Opportunities for Learning Disables (Gold) Foundation.

This year, it has launched the eight-piece fashion collection with actress Siti Saleha for Cancer Research Malaysia.

Poplook fashion designer Nik Amanina Liyana Nik Abd Aziz talks about the campaign and its latest project.

 

WHAT IS THE IDEA BEHIND THE POPLOOK GIVES BACK CAMPAIGN?

The idea is to work with a celebrity and a charity organisation annually. This is our fourth Poplook Gives Back collection and the first collaboration with Cancer Research Malaysia, and cancer awareness in general.

 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SITI SALEHA?

She is popular and she stands for positive change and women empowerment in Malaysia. More importantly, Siti Saleha is very friendly, approachable and very easy to work with. A big part of the collaboration involves reaching out and leveraging off each other’s fanbases to create a bigger impact for the campaign.

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO RAISE AWARENESS ON CANCER, ESPECIALLY BREAST CANCER?

Cancer is still a taboo subject in our society and a much feared disease so it’s important to get more people to speak out and learn about it. Awareness can lead to early detection and treatment.

 

WHY IS CANCER RESEARCH IMPORTANT?

A lot of the research is done mainly in Western countries. It is good that we have a local research organisation looking at cancer among Asians and Malaysians specifically.

 

HOW MUCH DO YOU EXPECT TO DONATE TO THE RESEARCH CENTRE?

We expect to donate RM60,000 to Cancer Research Malaysia. We are donating 30 per cent of all proceeds from the Poplook Gives Back collection.

 

WHY IS IT A LIMITED EDITION COLLECTION?

All Poplook Gives Back collections are limited editions. This makes the collection more special. There is also more urgency to purchase pieces as they will not be restocked after they have been sold out.

HAND IN HAND

FASHION has always gone hand-in-hand with raising awareness on breast cancer. Every October, which is breast cancer awareness month, fashion brands raise funds for cancer patients and survivors as well as cancer research.

Here are some homegrown brands that are taking various steps to raise awareness of breast cancer as well as other types of cancer.

Gin & Jacqie

The Kuching-based bag maker has created a limited edition positively pink set which includes a pink Sereni & Shentel headband, and a pink Organize Jacq. Twenty per cent of the proceeds will be donated to the Sarawak Breast Cancer Support Group.

In addition, it also hosted a bag designing competition from Sept 6 to Oct 12. This year's theme was Creating Awareness Through Art. Each participant was given a plain black tote bag to decorate or redesign however they wished, as long as they included the breast cancer pink ribbon symbol.

Neubodi

The lingerie specialist brand held a fundraising activity for the Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia’s (BCWA) Hospital Angels programme.

Under it, trained specialists will visit newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and help them cope with the disease in an encouraging and positive environment. They also raised funds through the Pedal Forward cycling convoy and exclusive sales from their Go Pink collection, where RM10 from every pink bra purchased was donated to BCWA.

dUCk

As part of Harper Bazaar Malaysia’s Bazaar Pink Project 2017, Duck has exclusively created the Pink Ribbon Notebook. Part of the proceeds will be channelled to support breast cancer patients. The hard cover notebook features blank pages and the dUCk monogram on its inner covers.

Ash be nimble

The local activewear brand has relaunched its racerback high support sports bras that have been modified to be prosthesis friendly for breast cancer survivors who have had a mastectomy. It also has a range with back clasps to make it easier to wear and remove sports bras post-surgery.

Nelissa Hilman

The women footwear label in collaboration with the creative team of Oh Hello, Cari Siapa!, held fundraising activities through limited edition T-shirts. Proceeds from the sale of the T-shirts were donated to BCWA.

XIXILI

The lingerie brand launched the Stand Up For Pink breast cancer awareness campaign from Sep 28 to Oct 1. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of breast cancer and empower women to take charge of their breast health.

It is went into partnership with 11street to donate RM3 for every bra sold on the online shopping website throughout the month of October to BCWA.

FashionValet

In October, FashionValet gave out its IAMHOMEGROWN limited edition pink box for every order made from its website to support breast cancer awareness.

AirAsia

In 2015, AirAsia embarked on its long-term corporate social responsibility programme to raise funds for the National Cancer Council Malaysia (Makna) to aid underprivileged cancer patients.

Using the hashtag #AirAsiaMAKNA, it launched a collection designed by airline employees that reflect the uniforms of its pilots and female cabin crew. Each T-shirt was adorned with Makna's logo and tagline, “A Meaning To Life”. The collection is available at FashionValet.

To date, it has raised and donated more than RM650,000 through the sales of these T-shirts, as well as the Travelling Beruang Campaign and a 10 sen pledge initiative.

kasmiah@nst.com.my

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