BIO: Cleverly leveraging on the popularity of the Internet, Tengku Syahmi’s accessible luxury ready-to-wear for women and men from his label Tsyahmi is lighting up the fashion sites of Zalora, Fashion Valet and En Pointe Singapore.
I was around 12 years old when I caught an Oprah Winfrey interview of this upcoming young designer, Esteban Cortazar. It was my first glimpse into the world of fashion and I was fascinated by the notion of a sketch coming to life as an actual, tangible garment. That was when I realised I could be doing that for a living – sketching my ideas and actually creating it in 3D! It was about the ability to express my ideas through fashion.
Until five years ago, it was just a hobby. Then my business partner, Natalie Zainal, made me realise that if I don’t get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, how will I ever grow? We were also working together at a fashion company, and flabbergasted by the quality and design aesthetics we saw. We were convinced that it was now or never to bring a change within the local industry and, thus, Tsyahmi was created!
Tsyahmi was initially self-funded until we took part in the annual Fashion Pitch in 2014 by MyCreative Ventures. Our designs and ideas impressed them enough to get their support, which allowed us to grow our label. I learned a lot going through the first season for Tsyahmi. It was tough trying to break into the market, producing our first ready-to-wear collection and going through all those sleepless nights at my parents’ house, trying to create the best experience for potential customers. My mum always reminded me that experience is everything and she is right; it’s the key to knowledge.
As a fashion designer based in Malaysia, it is definitely important to be original and innovative as that’s what will keep us always ahead. From the beginning, my intention has been to bring something new to the local scene. We at Tsyahmi celebrate individuality with fashion, bringing sophistication in its simplest form and creating designs that last.
For local designers and brands to grow, there needs to be a united front – a Malaysian version of CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), which is a non-profit trade association that gathers America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewellery and accessories designers. This Malaysian association should aim to bring local fashion and fashion designers to greater heights – possibly to an international stature – and along the way, establish fashion as an influential element of contemporary living. I believe it is important for the public and designers themselves to be able to appreciate and differentiate art and design for this promotion of talented Malaysian designers to be successful.