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A look into fashion design as a career - part 1 of our fashion design series

Published by Afterschool.my on Nov 19, 2012, 09:06 am

Regarded once as a “sunset” industry in the early 80s, the fashion industry of Malaysia is now perceived as an industry with potential. In 2008, it contributed RM10.5 billion to the country’s export revenue and investment is expected to reach US$3 billion in the next eight years.

Bernard Chandran, Jimmy Choo and Melinda Looi are some of the country’s biggest names in fashion. Their designs have been strutted down the runway at major fashion events here and abroad. More talented individuals are expected to join the bandwagon as government as well as the general public’s view of fashion evolve from “a total waste of money” to lucrative and influential business.

One must have a passion for fashion

Although fashion can be learned through education, Nik M. Faiz Nik M. Amin, Founder and Managing Director of Ruzz Gahara believes that developing a keen eye for fashion does not happen overnight.

“Drawing or sketching is part of the thought process of fashion design but it does not have to be necessarily neat or pretty. With the presence of technology, fashion designs can be conceptualised through the use of computer,” he said.

Ruzz Gahara specialises in the design and production of batik textile. It collaborates with local fashion designers to create “art to wear” fashion.

According to Nik, a good fashion designer must have the passion to create a personality and develop a character in his designs. He also must be able to match colours, choose the right materials, and have the sensibility to design what is suitable for a certain personality and body.

“There are many famous fashion designers in the industry who create mediocre sketches but end up with great designs,” Nik explained.

Likewise, Kenneth Tang, Sales and Marketing Manager of Raffles College of Higher Education in Kuala Lumpur, believes that one should have a great passionate love and strong commitment for fashion.

“No matter what you do, which course that you major, no matter what future prospects that a course would bring, you just need be able to be good with what you do,” said Kenneth.

He said that they normally tell their students that they don’t need to worry too much on the technicalities, such as pattern making or sewing, as long as they have passion.

“Passion for fashion can be in various forms such as love for shopping, looking at pretty clothes, and watching reality fashion TV shows.”

Admission to the fashion design programme in Raffles College is a competitive and meeting the minimal requirements does not always guarantee admission into the programme. According to Kenneth, they accept students who are passionate and committed to fashion.

“Aside from technical skills development, we indulge their creativity and broaden their view of things to help them have their own fashion signature which in itself becomes a valuable passport to demonstrate to others,” he added.

The fashion design programme of Raffles College offers a structured a career path for students to develop and achieve competent skill outcomes for fashion design rather than for industrial factory operations.

The programme’s culminating activity is a fashion show wherein students showcase their designs to industry players. According to Kenneth, there were instances wherein a student gets hired right on graduation night due to his marvellous designs.

Looking for the label, trying to establish a character and making it distinctive were values also emphasised by Nik. He said that fashion design in Malaysia should continue to explore beyond boundaries.

“We need to determine our own identity. It’s not enough to just put the cultural element in it but we also have to add the economy aspect as well,” he explained. “Designers need to ask questions on how to bring out the essence of our country’s multiracial trend development.”

Furthermore, Nik feels that fashion designers should look into understanding body size and that progression from size small to medium, for instance, is not just about expanding the measurements to 1 to 2 inches.

He advises young designers to be humble but be explorative in their collection. “Young fashion designers must remember that designing is not for their own but for others,” he added.

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