Lay­ing down the law

> Af­fendy Ali de­votes his smarts for the arts

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FASHION - BY RACHEL LAW

FASHIONABLE kids are typ­i­cally the cool kids, but when it comes to law, it’s not pop­u­lar to be in fash­ion. Not here and not yet, at least. Un­like en­vi­ron­men­tal and hu­man rights, fash­ion law is vir­tu­ally un­heard of in Malaysia. But on the fore­front of a move­ment to raise aware­ness on the need of le­gal sup­port within the lo­cal fash­ion scene and cre­ative in­dus­try, is Af­fendy Ali.

“In most ma­jor cities in the west, they have law firms that ad­vise re­tail­ers, fash­ion brands, emerg­ing de­sign­ers, and in the United States, the CFDA (Coun­cil of Fash­ion De­sign­ers of Amer­ica),” Af­fendy high­lighted.

Sure enough, law schools in that part of the world of­fer fash­ion law pro­grammes that ed­u­cate as­pir­ing bar­ris­ters on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty, busi­ness and fi­nance, in­ter­na­tional trade and govern­ment reg­u­la­tion, as well as con­sumer cul­ture and civil rights.

The Univer­sity of Malaya grad­u­ate did not set out to make fash­ion law his niche; rather it was a call­ing that he chanced upon, one that also hap­pens to com­ple­ment his own ded­i­ca­tion for sar­to­rial ex­cel­lence.

Prior to his cur­rent stint at govern­ment in­vest­ment arm MyCreative Ven­tures Sdn Bhd, Af­fendy op­er­ated be­hind the scenes for Tsyahmi. For a year since the fash­ion la­bel’s in­cep­tion, he man­aged its le­gal af­fairs, pub­lic re­la­tions, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and even (ca­su­ally) pho­tog­ra­phy. When the op­por­tu­nity arose to tran­si­tion to a cor­po­ra­tion that “aims to spur the coun­try’s cre­ative in­dus­try”, it made per­fect sense to make the switch.

“At the back of my head I thought, why help one en­tity when I can ex­pand and help the cre­ative in­dus­try as a whole?” the 28-year-old le­gal man­ager re­counted.

Essen­tially, MyCreative Ven­tures in­vests in vi­able Malaysian cre­ative busi­nesses – their na­ture of which varies from per­form­ing arts, cre­ative tech­nol­ogy, to lit­er­a­ture and of course, fash­ion and de­sign – via eq­ui­ties or loans. Af­fendy’s role comes in at the con­trac­tual stage.

“My job is to ad­vise the com­pany on our in­vest­ment and fi­nanc­ing re­lated mat­ters. Ba­si­cally, I vet through the terms of the fi­nanc­ing agree­ments and make sure that the in­ter­ests of MyCreative Ven­tures are best pro­tected in all as­pects in its con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ships with clients and ex­ter­nal par­ties we have col­lab­o­ra­tions with,” he di­vulged.

Apart from that, the Kota Kin­a­balu na­tive also takes care of the in­ter­ests of MyCreative Ven­tures’ clients – when they en­ter a con­sign­ment con­tract with a re­tailer, for in­stance. Some of MyCreative Ven­tures’ clients in the fash­ion cat­e­gory in­clude Pearly Wong, Nelissa Hil­man and Off The Rack Asia.

The chal­lenge is help­ing th­ese cre­atives un­der­stand the ne­ces­sity of un­der­go­ing cer­tain le­gal pro­cesses, but Af­fendy as­sures that it is also the most re­ward­ing part of his job.

“When I was in law school, my lec­tur­ers would al­ways say that one day we’ll be­come lawyers, judges, or work for the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Cham­bers, but to never for­get to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety. So I feel very much obliged to make peo­ple un­der­stand the law and le­gal jar­gons be­cause it’s im­por­tant, es­pe­cially for peo­ple with­out a busi­ness or le­gal back­ground,” he re­it­er­ated.

Prac­tis­ing law in the cre­ative in­dus­try may not be as lu­cra­tive as in con­struc­tion, oil and gas, or lo­gis­tics and trans­porta­tion, but Af­fendy be­lieves that the for­mer needs just as much sup­port. Like any in­dus­try, the cre­ative trade thrives on a dy­namic ecosys­tem.

“In fash­ion, it doesn’t end at the de­sign­ers – there are man­u­fac­tur­ers, re­tail­ers, PR agen­cies, stylists and the me­dia. MyCreative Ven­tures fills in the gap that fash­ion de­sign­ers have, which is fi­nanc­ing.

“I’ve got lawyer friends who are for hu­man and en­vi­ron­men­tal rights, and I re­spect them for it be­cause those are causes. But I also tell bud­ding lawyers and law stu­dents that there’s an un­tapped in­dus­try that re­ally needs pro­fes­sional at­ten­tion, not only from lawyers but ac­coun­tants, fi­nance ex­perts and so on,” said Af­fendy.

Af­fendy was in le­gal prac­tice for two years be­fore as­sist­ing lo­cal fash­ion de­signer Tengku Mo­hamed Syahmi then tak­ing the helm of le­gal man­ager at MyCreative Ven­tures.

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