WINDS OF CHANGE A conversation between Khoon Hooi’s oldschool luxe and Ezzati Amira’s new age coolness – taking on the past, current, and future ideals. By Amy Yasmine.
I think readyto-wear collections have become increasingly accessible over the last several years. Khoon Hooi: That’s true. Looking back 15 years ago, when I first launched my label in 2000, there were very few designers around. But now, our clientele has become increasingly open to new ideas and new designers. EA: They are also a lot more progressive. To put things into perspective, there’s an abundance of fashion courses readily available now, even specific ones like accessories design. Although, it’s quite an expensive course to take … KH: (To Ezzati) How much? EA: Around RM90,000? It’s a lot more expensive than a fashion design course, that’s for sure. KH: Wow, yes, that’s really expensive. Back in my day, I only had to pay RM680 for one semester. I don’t think I would’ve been able to pay RM90,000 for a course if I had to take it all up again now. But back then, I paid around RM3,000 to study fashion design. That was probably around 1990 … 25 years ago! Q. What do you think are the biggest challenges for designers – new and established ones?
Ezzati’s minimalistic approach to her recent Spring/ Summer ’16 collection “I’ve become a lot more level-headed from when I first started. I’m a lot more urban and minimalistic now compared to then, which was all rock ’n’ roll.”
– Ezzati Amira KH: At the moment, finance is probably our biggest threat. More often than not, we’re left to our own devices, with very small support from any organisations to push our brands further. EA: It would be great if we could get more buyers into Malaysia during fashion week as well, because that would really drive our industry to international status. I think our seasonless weather poses a huge challenge to us. That removes the need to change your wardrobe every so often. KH: Yes, people don’t have the need to switch up their wardrobes for a new season, to invest in a new coat, to consider layering … it’s timeless. And it’s definitely something we have to factor in when we’re designing for a collection. EA: But still, there are designers such as myself and Khoon Hooi who still take seasons into consideration, especially as local designers are now trying to break through the international circuit. Q. Does this mean your style has changed drastically over the years? KH: When it comes to aesthetics, most of the change happened internally. Over the years, you become a lot more mature and realistic about what you actually put out there. There used to be a time when all I wanted to do was to listen to my own voice, but at some point, you have to take things into perspective and take a step back. EA: I’ve become a lot more level-headed from when I first started. I’m a lot more urban and minimalistic now compared to then, which was all rock ’n’ roll. I was just a 23-year-old, trying to find my place within this sea of noise. Q. What do you wish to happen right now? KH: More buyers at the moment, even on a domestic level. EA: Now, I feel like there’s a clear step towards progression. It’s pretty amazing to see how fast the industry has grown in just a few years.
Khoon Hooi’s Autumn/ Winter ’15 collection
Ezzati Amira’s first
collection, which debuted in Spring 2013