PETALING JAYA, Aug 19 — As Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) celebrates its 10th anniversary this week, Malaysia’s most prestigious fashion event has been dogged by allegations of backdated model payments.
As the event entered its second day at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur yesterday (August 18), top Malaysian model Alicia Amin was seen holding up a sign in a one-woman protest highlighting the matter.
“All models this year to be paid within the day.
“Those still waiting for Andrew’s payment from previous years, come speak to me,” the sign read, in reference to KLFW founder Andrew Tan.
Alicia said she was moved to stage the protest as the issue had remained unresolved since 2019, when she first took up the cause on behalf of other models.
“I didn’t set out to start an ‘association’, I simply asked who needed help (regarding their unpaid invoices),” she told Malay Mail via phone today.
“I had a conversation about this with Andrew after KLFW 2019 concluded — they came up with a sort of monthly payment plan, and it seemed to me that we came to a conclusion.
“But months later, I was still receiving messages from models; some had been paid, some were still waiting,” said Alicia, who was a contestant in the fifth cycle of Asia’s Next Top Model.
Alicia staged a single-woman protest at KLFW to highlight yet unpaid models from past runway shows. — Screenshots via TikTok/ yelamango
She added that she had experienced delayed payment after walking KLFW’s catwalk in 2013, but subsequently received her dues after threatening to sue.
After the pandemic hit, Alicia said she took in good faith that “everyone was struggling to sort things out”.
However, she was irked by Tan’s comments to the media ahead of KLFW 2022 this year.
Last week, The Vibes reported Tan as saying: “I can tell you now that they (models) cannot claim we do not pay at all. We may be late, but we do and will pay.” He added then that the backdated model payments were due to delayed payments from sponsors and clients.
Alicia claimed that Tan had contacted her last Friday (August 12), and promised to settle all unpaid model invoices within a day.
“I understand the realities of the industry, of sponsors being late with payments themselves.
“But I can’t help notice that models of a ‘higher status’, those who have a name, have not had to deal with such delays,” she said.
She added that she neither “hates” nor wishes to “cancel” KLFW, as it had an important role within the local fashion industry.
“I just feel like we need to hold people accountable for the promises that they made,” she said.
“Truthfully, I have nothing to lose by doing this, so I would never shame nor force anyone else into doing things my way,” she said.
Commenting on the protest, Tan said everyone had the “freedom of expressing themselves”, and reiterated that he will personally oversee all aspects of KLFW’s finances.
Tan said that models will be paid upon completing their show for the day. — Picture via/ Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week
“Payment will be made in full to my Model Casting Director in advance to the Fashion Week and all models are paid upon completion of the day,” he said in a statement to Malay Mail via WhatsApp today.
“Having said that, KLFW has a bigger role to play for the Malaysian fashion industry.
“The 10th year just mark(s) the beginning, we have a lot more to develop in terms of a fashion eco-system for the industries.”
He noted that he started KLFW “with nothing”, saying that it was his vision to “make a name for our country’s designers and I am extremely thrilled to see them grow and prosper.”
“Social media is a great way to attain information but everyone needs to have discernment when they are on social media,” he added.
“The more time spent on social media can lead to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, cancel culture and more social ills.”