For Raya this year, Datuk Jovian Mandagie is offering beautiful ready-to-wear designs inspired by a tropical paradise. Named Aloha, they feature motifs such as coconut and monstera leaves, plus flowers like orchids and frangipani.
Yet, Jovian’s offerings extend beyond just the festive season. The man, after all, is also known for his couture creations. His fashion label is well loved among the high society in Malaysia. The runway shows he puts on? Glamorously over-the-top.
However much, Jovian is seen to be increasingly courting the mass market. This is despite always championing the excesses of fashion. The Jakarta-born designer explains that his ready-to-wear draws from the qualities of his couture line. It however, feeds a different demographic. It has a friendly price point, and includes designs that suit women from all walks of life.
When Jovian first launched his ready-to-wear line in 2012, a total of 25,000 pieces were reportedly produced. It has since become an even bigger hit among his customers these days.
“Coming from couture, I have built a strong image based on that. I can’t deny that the couture line does have its loyal and niche clientele. They love the brand because of the craftsmanship and fine quality,” he states.
Jovian, 33, says that change is often times inevitable. He sees the wisdom in embracing a wider range of aesthetics. Not only that, he is not against designing things differently to suit the the needs of customers.
“I’ve become more alert to what’s relevant and what’s not. I know I can be crazy with my creativity, but again, I’m now more driven to what’s acceptable in the market,” he points out.
“At the end of the day, you want to have the return that can sustain your business. However it is, I always make sure that every collection has my signature touch, regardless couture or ready-to-wear.”
A Fresh Take
Recently, Jovian welcomed designers Juliani Jamal and Arene Khairuddin (previously of the Innai Red label) into his team. This is to help bring a fresh perspective and present a younger feel to his ready-to-wear offerings.
“I’m giving the freedom for the girls to fully express what they think the House of Jovian Mandagie should represent in terms of their designs,” he notes, regarding their appointment.
“When designing, I always remind them to think differently. Be the trendsetter. Although, I’m still overseeing the process. I hold the final approval on what goes in and out.”
According to Jovian, he is also trying to expand his business into the global market this year. He says that he will be working with an international e-commerce partner to widen his brand exposure.
To him, no one can stand alone in this industry. His success is credited to his team members – of whom, he says, have worked really hard towards building the Jovian Mandagie brand.
“There has been a lot of ups and downs. Surely, it is not a one-man show that I become who I am today and the brand that it is today, other than having great team players as my backbone.”
That said, Jovian does not think that he has really “made it”. He remains reticent about his success, instead pointing out that there are other great people with greater achievements in life.
“I realise that I need to be more than I am today – whether it is on a personal level or career wise. There are just so many things out there that I have yet to achieve,” he adds.
Asked about his thoughts on the Malaysian fashion industry, Jovian says it has grown so much bigger that what it was a few years ago. He notes that the bridal and ready-to-wear market is especially booming.
He also thinks the competition among local designers is heating up. While fortunate enough to have witnessed success within five years of founding his label, he does not see it happening for other designers now.
“Everyone is selling almost similar designs with variation of price points. Which from there, it has created more competitors between fashion brands to keep their customers loyal.”
Jovian actually studied architecture. He was not interested in fashion when young. His mother apparently said no, when he told her he wanted to design clothes, as well.
“Being an architecture student taught me how to be a perfectionist. Your drawings ensure the technicality of your end product is right – which is actually the same when it comes to designing clothes.”
As it is, Jovian’s latest couture designs are simply dreamy. They present a vision of what he describes as a “romantic splendour, infused with a dose of soft glam and restrained aesthetic”.
With a hint of effortless sophistication, the Love Birds collection features a selection of hourglass silhouettes, mermaid cuts and flowy drapes. It comprises semi-fitted modern kurung and kaftans, as well as structured corset and one-piece dresses.