Dynamic, innovative and young. These are the qualities of the next generation of leaders who are making waves in their respective fields. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with four sets of young individuals to hear from them what their individual experiences are, what drives them and most importantly, what is their secret to success.
Kit Woo, Fashion Designer
My fashion label started in 2016, it was right after I had moved back to Malaysia from New York. Originally I had planned to build a brand on the side while I was working for Joe Chia, but after a month it was hard to cope with doing both my main job and my own collections, so I decided to solely work on my brand. I debuted with Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) 2016 in August that year.
After high school I just went for it, I always knew I would be doing something in the design field. When I got exposure to the fashion industry, I thought that it is the best and fastest way to communicate with your audience, and that fashion would be the perfect medium for me.
Studying fashion design at New York’s Pratt Institute completely changed the way I approach design. I become more organic and less controlled – not everything needs to be perfect – in terms of how I see a finished garment. And I learned that nothing is just front and back.
I would describe my design style as progressive. Inspirations play a big part in every season, and so does the colour palette. I want to be different every season. But I find that my process is more important than the end product because my designs really come alive when I’m actually in the process of realising them.
It is hard to forecast what’s going to happen in the near future. Even for me, every season brings new challenges, be it in sales, marketing, as well as design taste. But social media has really broadened Malaysia’s view in fashion. The only thing I can see clearly for the future of the industry is that Malaysia is heading towards the right direction.
I believe the playful & experimental nature depends on the person whether they are young and new to the field or a mature designer. I always say “never get comfortable”, which is true no matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in the industry.
That being said, I have much respect for the designers before me. I have spoken to Melinda Looi, Carven Ong, and briefly met Dato’ Bernard Chandran. They are all so open-minded and welcoming, so I don’t necessarily see a hierarchy between the ‘different batches’ of designers but we all have much respect for each other.
I’m not exactly young anymore as I’m turning 31 this year, but the thing that our generation does extremely well is tapping into social media, engaging with our clients and gathering up-todate information through these means. These tools have really helped me to grow as a brand. And for design, looking for inspiration is just a tap away. In that sense too, there’s no way that you can say “oh that can’t be done”. It’s 2020, people are looking for innovation and the faster you can reach your audience, the faster you gain success.
I have spent four years building an image for myself and my brand, and recently over the past year or two, my Malaysian audience really grew. So business here is picking up where else overseas in China, the buying marketing is very unpredictable, especially now with what is happening with the spread of COVID-19. It is affecting the majority of businesses including mine. So to combat that, I am planning to do a more direct to consumer model locally, as almost 95% of my orders come from direct messages via Instagram, and I personally communicate with these customers. For near future, I hope to have my own boutique. And of course, I will be returning to KLFW 2020.