Malaysian Designer Highlights the Uniqueness of Malaysian Heritage with Songket Handbags

Malaysian Designer Highlights the Uniqueness of Malaysian Heritage with Songket Handbags

BY: Michelle Liew

Classic, exclusive and at a reasonable price – These are the words used to describe the handbags made by Siti Noor Misro. Her designs have gained popularity over the years and remains the choice of the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The handbag is made of songket, a type of fabric that is rarely featured by other local designers. The combination of abstract patterns and flowers on the fabric with a combination of pastel (pale) and bright colours make the 50-year-old entrepreneur's handiwork look luxurious.

"I am really interested in sewing because through that activity I can highlight creativity. At the same time, I also like handmade products,” says Siti Noor Misro as quoted from Awani.

After more than 11 years in the field, Siti Noor is proud of her Ct N Honey brand which is increasingly gaining a place among fans of unique handbags including celebrities.

Looking back on her involvement in the career, Siti Noor said she started producing handbags in 2012 but only had the courage to sell the products she produced online in mid-2013.

"At that time, I used various materials such as cotton fabric, linen, canvas and synthetic leather. The design was also very simple with most of the handbags I made according to the customer's order and taste," said the mother of six children.

Seeing the favourable response, Siti Noor developed a website to market her handmade handbags and also sewing items for those who want to make their own handbags.

Despite not having any formal education in the field of sewing and only learning on her own through various videos on YouTube, it turns out that Siti Nor's handiwork is so striking that she managed to attract the attention of Dr Wan Azizah's assistant in 2019.

Speaking further, the woman said she was contacted by Dr Wan Azizah's officer who was the Deputy Prime Minister at the time, asking her to prepare a handbag froms ongket to be presented to the wife of Turkiye President Emine Erdogan who was scheduled to come to Malaysia to attend the KL Summit 2019.

"After hearing the purpose of the order, even though I have never used songket fabric, I tried my best to fulfil the Deputy Prime Minister's order at the time," she said.

According to her, that is where the history of using songket in the manufacture of her handbags began.

After receiving her first order from Dr Wan Azizah, she began to focus on making handbags from songket.

She described the move as a two-pronged, which is to highlight songket handbags and defend the heritage of songket which is less and less used by the general public.

According to the entrepreneur, making handbags using songket fabric in particular, is not an easy job because it requires precision, and it takes him up to two days to complete a simple bag.

"The production of these handmade bags is a process that takes a long time and is full of meticulousness. The first process is the selection of the design and material, then we will attach the stiffener to ensure the bag is stronger.

"A special sewing machine is used to ensure a neat finish," she explained, adding that the most complicated task is producing the bag's frame because the sewing work to join the frame is done by hand.

"It usually takes me one to two hours to complete the stitching," she added.