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.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - The News Bazaar -

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

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