Inspired by the richness of aesthetics found in Malaysia, Zhoa uses motifs and patterns from iconic buildings in Kuala Lumpur and translates them into attractive designs.
The fashion label’s debut collection highlights the architectural beauty of the city by using clean lines to craft recognisable elements into a range of sleek shirts and scarves.
Each item personifies a historic piece of the capital city. The graphics used bring to mind famous structures such as the Petronas Twin Towers, Central Market, High Court Building and more.
“We saw a lack of local interpretation in Malaysian fashion. We wanted something fresh and decided upon local architecture,” states Zachary Haris Ong, the main force behind Zhoa.
“The message we wanted to send out is that the label is designed in Malaysia, but made for the world. So it has to have an identity that can represent the country really well.”
Ong has 13 years of experience in the graphic design industry. This is however, his first time venturing into fashion design – yet he sees it as just another aspect of the subject matter.
“In the world that we live in, design is no longer bound to just one discipline. Graphic design exists not just as graphic design, but it can be trans-disciplinary as well,” he points out.
Having A Vision
The primary artistic designer for Zhoa’s first collection is Kamarul Izam. In designing the different pieces, he said that he had to look at things from a fashion designer’s point of view.
“Yet I approached it very visually. Coming from a graphic design background, I maintained the minimalist feel of things. The range is modern, basic and simple,” he adds.
Like Ong, Kamarul has worked in the Malaysian graphic design industry for more than a decade. His clients range from corporate entities and governmental bodies to professional associations.
“We had a lot of different buildings in mind, but decided to pick just a few of them. From there we actually mixed and matched, as well as manipulated the shapes and design elements.” Kamarul states.
While challenging, Ong says that best part of the design experience was when it all came together. It took two months from start to finish, but he cherishes the learning experience.
“The highlight of the whole process was when we actually saw the final and finished product. We actually cried! We had a mini celebration. We were so blown away by it.”
Kamarul adds: “It started off really fun. Then we were wowed by the amount of details. We had to learn about the fabric and measurements, things that are outside graphic design.”
Focused On Malaysia
This is Zhoa’s first collection, but there are already plans for future releases. When asked, Ong notes that any new additions will similarly highlight a Malaysian identity.
“We are looking to work with different designers from around the world. But the designs will still focus on Malaysia. It will be based on aspects of the country that they find interesting, and they are passionate about.”
On the type of people the label caters to, Ong says that he looks to himself first. He tries his very best to design clothes that he would wear and represent him best as a Malaysian.
“The people that we target are people that travel often. The ladies’ scarves could be for ambassadors. The shirts are well suited for people who run international businesses.”