A combination of Malay, Bahasa Indonesia and English, Iris Rasa offers viewers a glimpse into the complex intersectional identities of Singapore’s diaspora. Fluid, ambiguous and multi-layered – these are some words that come to mind whilst reflecting on this.

Similarly, there are various ways to interpret Iris Rasa. When read in Bahasa Indonesia, the first word Iris [ɪrɪs] means to slice, unveiling the layers within, our reference to the multilayered nature of identity.  Whereas Iris [ˈaɪərɪs] in English means the coloured portion of the eye, which refers to the aim of our project; to give the reader a view into one's layered identity.  

The second word, Rasa [rasa], is taken from Malay and Bahasa Indonesia, meaning one's feelings, as we believe feelings to be the primary drive when it comes to one's identity.

Together, Iris Rasa means the slices of feelings. It hopes to lend a lens which glimpses into the complex nature of intersectional identity in Singapore's diasporic.

The history of Singapore as an immigration hub in Southeast Asia has made it a key migration corridor, especially among the diaspora from Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia. Post-colonial Singapore is home to a microcosm of diasporic communities that have adapted and assimilated into Singaporean society. While diasporas tend to be grouped together in broadly held conceptions, they are not monolithic. Rather, they should be recognised for their distinct cultures and traditions that are expressed through various means such as dress. Dress, which includes modifications and supplements to one’s body, is not only a medium for self-expression but also a response to one’s socio-cultural environment.

Since new generations have been formed within or even across different diasporas, people have now come to embrace a multitude of identities despite sharing the same ancestry. This, coupled with globalisation, has lowered the borders and boundaries of cultures, which has led to traditions being shared, emulated and reinterpreted by a wider community. As Singapore’s cultural identity continues to evolve, it is worthwhile to question how diasporic communities can meet the demands of globalism as well as the desire to preserve one’s heritage through their self-expression. In doing so, it is possible that they are able to offer a new, more diverse vision of Singapore’s fashion identity.