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