East meets west. Or rather, a melting pot of cultures. That would probably be an apt description for Atelier Fitton’s recently opened boutique in Kuala Lumpur.
From having Scottish tartan curtains and English racing green walls, to its location at the Zhongshan Art Centre within the city, the space speaks of two very different worlds coming together.
Not surprising though. The menswear label’s creative director himself is a person who has lived two very different lives – career-wise, as well as where his heritage is concerned.
Thirty-year-old Joshua Fitton was born in Britain, but he moved to Melaka at a young age. While his father happens to be an Englishman, his mother is Malay. Nevertheless, he identifies as Malaysian.
“Growing up, all I knew was the Malay kampung I lived in. I was about four years old when we made the move. I only learnt about my English culture and heritage much later on,” he relates.
Fitton studied in an international school in Malaysia, but obtained his master’s degree in architecture from the University Of Lincoln. He ventured into fashion when he came back to work here.
“I first started by making T-shirts under the Tempatan Black label. That was when I was still practising as an architect.
“Six or eight months into it, I got invited to show at a fashion week,” Fitton states.
“The first collection was very casual. It had only about two suits. This was about four years ago. The whole transition from Tempatan Black to Atelier Fitton only happened last year.”
When asked, Fitton says he has never looked back since making the career change. He admits that he misses architecture, but there is still a long way to go for his plans with Atelier Fitton.
“Right now, I’d like to grow this business so that it’s self-sustaining – maybe to a big enough level that it can look after itself and I can double up on other things,” the self-taught designer states.
“One plan is to get the brand recognised so that it’s a household name. So that people aspire to wear Atelier Fitton. Aspire to have a suit or a shirt that’s made by the label. That’s my ultimate goal.”
Fitton points out that it is not easy running a menswear business in Malaysia.
This is because the guys here do not pay as much attention to fashion compared to those in certain Western countries.
“They are slowly getting there. They are more aware of what they need or should wear. They are also more conscious of how people perceive them based on what they wear,” he adds.
According to Fitton, his design process is very visual. All his fashion collections have a story. This helps him envision the man who will be wearing his clothes.
“I don’t just sit down with a pen and paper and start sketching. I come up with an idea of who this person is first – who he’s meeting, why he’s there, what time of the day it is, then fill in the details.”
His latest collection (to be unveiled Friday at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week) is inspired by country clubs. It offers designs that are a lot more relaxed, and uses a lot of pastel colours.
“Last year’s inspiration was a safari, and the year before that, I had a nautical-themed collection. I’m still doing structured pieces, just that the style is a bit softer this time around,” he notes.
“People know that I can make suits. So I just want to show what else I can make. Last year’s collection came with capes. It’s more like dabbling in different kinds of silhouettes and fits.”
Atelier Fitton (atelierfitton.com) currently offers bespoke and ready-to-wear designs. Prices range from RM269 for a shirt off the racks, to RM3,100 and above for a tailored two-piece suit.
“I choose fabrics that are appropriate for the climate. I always take into consideration how people live in Malaysia and the type of people that we are when I design,” says Fitton.