When it comes to elevating the local fashion industry, two intrepid Malaysians stand out – Hugh Koh of Pestle & Mortar Clothing and Jenn Low of Wanderlust + Co, names to be reckoned with.
Koh co-founded his streetwear label in 2010, which has since become a go-to for Malaysian youths. Low’s jewellery, which made headlines in 2009 after being spotted on international celebrities, has now come home to Kuala Lumpur.
Both brands have witnessed a similar growth and increased retail presence over the years, and their owners are expecting greater things for 2019.
Koh hopes for a better Malaysia in the new year and wants to see more platforms being developed to help fashion entrepreneurs, as well as more assistance from government organisations.
“More partnerships and integration of the many talents in Malaysia is key,” he states. “Break out of the mentality of doing it alone and rally together to achieve larger impact.”
Low foresees the style industry becoming more inclusive. The reinvention of modest fashion to cater to millennial Muslim women, for example, and increased cultural diversity in visual campaigns by brands.
She says, “It’s been really good of late, to see new and traditional brands reinvent their messaging and product ranges, so their brands have a more universal appeal for everyone, regardless of cultural background.”
Low notes that it’s important for Malaysians to support local brands. She says that it will benefit the country if we – the government, the public and those in the fashion industry – lift one another.
“My personal hope for the Malaysian fashion industry is that we realise our full potential on the global stage, and compete not just within our own country but with key players around the world.”
Koh believes that connecting with customers digitally is the future. He points out that pretty much everyone is glued to their phones these days.
“Putting out content is only the first step, but keeping them engaged is what would set brands or retailers apart,” he says. “Technology has been advancing on a daily basis to help us fulfil these needs.”