Stag­ing a come­back

> Prov­ing that age is just a num­ber, this de­signer pur­sues her dream re­gard­less of the digit

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FASHION - YEO CHIA HUI

DE­SIGNED for women who are am­bi­tious, de­ci­sive and strong, JN by Ji­uan Ng (JN) em­bod­ies the very spirit that its founder stands for. Ng Shuh Ji­uan (pix) is the woman be­hind this newly minted la­bel and her tale is one fraught with curve­balls and pit stops.

A trained com­puter en­gi­neer with a master's de­gree, she gave up a good pay­ing job at a multi­na­tional com­pany to pur­sue fash­ion de­sign­ing when she was 28 years old. At an age where one is ex­pected to set­tle down, many con­sid­ered her de­ci­sion as sense­less.

"It was a risk be­cause it was a plunge into un­cer­tainty. I was climb­ing the cor­po­rate lad­der well, but my heart was just not in it. In com­par­i­son, when I was study­ing in New York, I was broke yet happy," said the de­signer, who elab­o­rated that engi­neer­ing was a com­pro­mise with her par­ents who wanted her to be­come a doc­tor.

Upon her grad­u­a­tion from Par­sons The New School for De­sign – with hon­ours, no less – she in­terned and worked for Zang Toi be­fore be­ing em­ployed as a de­sign as­sis­tant at a wom­enswear com­pany, Worth. She then moved to Florida with her spouse and, months later, was short­listed as one of the five fi­nal­ists in the Made for Peroni Young De­signer Award.

While she was flown to the Big Ap­ple to present her Ital­ian-themed col­lec­tion, Ng found out that she was preg­nant and thus chose to pri­ori­tise moth­er­hood by putting fash­ion on the back burner.

"In hind­sight, I would have done the same be­cause it was my first

preg­nancy, so I didn't know what to ex­pect. I guess it was fated too, as I found out about it very early and cou­pled with the fact that I didn't win, it wasn't a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make."

Three years on, and in the midst of another preg­nancy, she is fi­nally ful­fill­ing her fash­ion de­sign­ing dream.

BET­TER LATE THAN NEVER

Launched in Jan­uary this year, JN al­ready has two cap­sule col­lec­tions un­der its belt. The first is the Re­defin­ing Clas­sics se­ries where Ng took a cau­tious ap­proach by opt­ing for clas­sic sil­hou­ettes. "They are mostly work-ap­pro­pri­ate de­signs that could be styled for ca­sual wear too. In a way, I was try­ing to be safe with this line, hence those are clas­sic pieces that are in­jected with sur­prises and twists. Since there are not many con­tem­po­rary and min­i­mal­ist la­bels in Malaysia, I de­cided to fo­cus on this as well," ex­plained the 34-year-old. Her sec­ond col­lec­tion – as is sug­gested by its name, Bor­rowed From The Boys – is her take on menswear as she com­bined fem­i­nine sil­hou­ette and tra­di­tional menswear el­e­ments to pro­duce a sleek and an­drog­y­nous se­lec­tion. Although Ng does not have plans to ven­ture into menswear yet as "it's a to­tally dif­fer­ent ball game that re­quires more re­search" she is, how­ever, con­tem­plat­ing on chil­dren's wear be­cause she has been ap­proached by oth­ers for such col­lab­o­ra­tion.

"I do not want to rush things ei­ther, there­fore I will be al­lo­cat­ing more time be­tween the launch of each col­lec­tion from hereon. A big­ger time gap will also en­sure that there will be more time to sell each range," she quipped, be­fore adding that her next se­ries will drop some­time next year.

De­spite the time in­ter­val that fans will have to with­stand, what she has in mind is def­i­nitely worth wait­ing for.

"Noth­ing is set in stone, but I plan to in­tro­duce my main line that will fo­cus on made- to-or­der pieces. A lot of de­sign­ers start off with their cen­tral la­bel be­fore they branch out to cheaper ranges in ready-to-wear; I, on the other hand, did the ex­act op­po­site be­cause I wanted to test the wa­ters and de­ter­mine if my work will be ac­cepted by Malaysians.

"I have been look­ing into in­ter­na­tional stock­ists as well, for my ul­ti­mate goal is to ex­pand my la­bel glob­ally. As a de­signer, I wouldn't just stop here. If there is an op­por­tu­nity to do more, I'd go for it. Af­ter all, I want to be able to do this un­til I'm old."

In spite of her late en­try into the in­dus­try and the hic­cups along the way, Ng clearly knows where she is headed to. As such, it's just a mat­ter of time be­fore she reaches her life­long goal of be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful fash­ion de­signer.

Mix and match is an im­por­tant theme in her col­lec­tions for "you de­cide your own style, not JN".

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