Do you know that the official currency of Cambodia is Riel (KHR)? The colourful riel notes have been designed carefully to make sure they present the Cambodian identity. It’s been 39 years of the reintroduction of the Riel. More than that the riel notes are becoming a new fashion collection designed by a young designer lady, writes Va Sonyka.
It was last year that Heang Socheata started thinking about her new collection – the time when the new 20000-riel note was just published. The 23-year-old elucidated: “Back then I was only an intern at a fashion-related company. It was 20000 riels a day that I got as an intern,”
“I remember when my manager who is a foreigner gave me my salary, he seemed not knowing that the 20000-riel note is the local currency. When he saw me carrying the 20K riel note, he happened to ask me what the currency is? which took me by surprise,” the co-founder of Series Material recalled.
Socheata claims that the 20000-riel note has become an inspiration for her since then. It makes her think about how to make her national currency well known when some foreigners find it difficult to learn about Cambodian currency and some of local people don’t really want to accept Riel notes.
The 20000 riels note is among the more popular notes with the signature light pink colour. The picture of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and the picture of Preah Vihear temple have been printed on both sides of the note.
Inspired from the 20k riel notes, Socheata got an idea to print the notes on fabric and using Japanese styling. Socheata said, the colour of each outfit is based on Cambodian’s favourite which inspired from natural colour of the sun that about to set.
“I try to avoid using the picture of the King and the Preah Vihear temple which are symbols that Cambodian people respect,” she said adding that she uses the riel pattern only on the top wear while the bottom wear is plain fabric. It takes about three months to finish 6 cuts including 12 garments and accessories.
Socheata plans to produce more fashion collections showing more of Khmer identity. She said that she really wants to break some people’s mindset that downplays the Cambodian people’s capabilities.
Socheata is now trying to uncover more Khmer identity to promote it in the fashion industry. Stay tuned for what’s next, the new conceptual collection of Socheata will be coming more next year.