By: Olivia Ong
ZALORA Malaysia is proud to introduce three very talented personalities; Kavita Sidhu, designer of K-Swim Brazil, Hugh Koh of Pestle & Mortar Clothing and Afiq Iskandar of Tarik Jeans. They were interviewed recently about what Merdeka or Independence means to them, what makes them Malaysian, their personal lives as well as their fashion brands.
Kavita Sidhu is a versatile actress, professional model, talented film producer and fashion designer. Kavita Sidhu is a Malaysian household name and a platform for K-Swim and Kavita – a trusted brand that carries “affordable luxuries for women”. Born in the United Kingdom and raised in Kuala Lumpur, she is a city girl at heart and a true Malaysian who enjoys celebrating Hari Raya with her closest friends, embracing the culture and spirit of Ramadhan, always remembering to share with the less fortunate. When asked on what Merdeka or Independence mean to her:
“Merdeka carries a kind of melancholy for me. It somehow makes you reflect on the sacrifices made by many in our past, our leaders, forefathers, our families’ past and present, so that we can inherit and enjoy the peace and stability in our country today. If it can make me feel this way, it means we should make sure these sacrifices are not forgotten.”
When asked about the correlation between Malaysians having good taste in food and fashion, she said that Malaysians have a more sophisticated taste in fashion compared to food, and she would choose Char Kuay Teow over Foie Gras any day!
When talking about her designs and how Malaysian culture inspires them, she is hugely fascinated by Malaysian heritage and tries to incorporate all those elements into her designs. She defines her fashion line as glamorous, timeless and electic; designs that make you feel and look good. She felt there was an opportunity to create designs that would address a woman’s needs and her complexities.
Having modelled for over 10 years and being acquainted with many designers in the industry, some of her favourite local brands are Michael Ong, Bernard Chandran and British India. Kavita has her fashion line stocked at Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Australia and now online on www.zalora.com.my.
Get K-Swim Brazil here.
This very talented man is Malaysian Chinese, a city boy who was born and bred in Kuala Lumpur – although he did wish he grew up in a kampong so that he could climb trees and catch worms… Yes, he used to read Lat’s “The Kampung Boy” comics which inspired this sentiment!
Hugh describes himself to be a very hands-on person and loves making stuff. He spent half of his high school years in a Catholic boarding school in Sydney. During his Uni breaks, he would unload 40-ft containers and worked in a sausage factory, pushing 100 carcasses a day. Recently, despite his father’s disapproval, Hugh quit his professional job as an architect to focus on Pestle & Mortar full-time.
On what makes him Malaysian, he admits to being a little “keh poh” or in English, being nosy, for example, slowing down and causing traffic jams on the highway so he could see what was going on in the midst of a commotion.
When asked what Merdeka or Independence means to him:
“To me the word Independence means being able to self-sustain and to have freedom to create.”
Hugh defines his fashion brand, Pestle & Mortar to be something that is truly home-grown and always progressing. Browsing through street-inspired magazines and seeing products only available in the United States fed his desire to make the same sartorial choices available in Malaysia! Hugh and two of his friends designed what they wanted to wear; making a living and producing clothes they wanted at affordable prices.
Everything about Malaysian culture influences and inspires their designs, be it local lingo, cuisine or lifestyle – even the heroes of our homeland are evident in all of their designs.
Get Pestle & Mortar here.
Afiq Iskandar – musician, founder and designer of Tarik Jeans is a Penang homeboy who grew up around a small ‘taman’ where everything was within cycling distance. To Afiq, one of the things that makes him Malaysian is the ability to “go with the flow” – to adapt to our surroundings, get along with people, to help and expect help from fellow Malaysians.
When asked what Merdeka or Independence means to him,
“To me, as the generation that came 55 years after our country has reached independence, it means looking back at the past 55 years and see what we have achieved since. As of right now, being an honest Malaysian, there are things I’m proud of and there are also things that I’m quite disappointed about…”
Afiq was inspired to create his own fashion line when he realized that something had to be done when he came back from his studies abroad. There were many local youngsters coming up with their own T-shirt designs, but he found them sorely lacking a ‘local’ element for his tastes. His first design for Tarik Jeans was a “Who’s Your Mamak?” graphic printed T-shirt which was a huge hit with all 200 pieces sold out at an event!
Tarik Jeans aims to be the Denim brand that Malaysians choose to wear when they decide to “conquer the world.” The designs are said to be inspired in spite of all the negativity that has been plaguing the nation and the desire to prove what Malaysia really is about.
Get Tarik Jeans here.