INSIDERS | Gentsome meet Andrew Tan, founder of KL Fashion Week
Step into fashion world with out talks: discover more about Andrew Tan, founder of KL Fashion Week!
KLFW has become a major player in the asian fashion industry, do you remember when you started this adventure? I started it all with only one purpose and it has never changed throughout the years, which is the mission of elevating our homegrown designers, to show the world how much our designers has to offer. To further elaborate – I want to bring our Malaysian designers(be it renown designers or uprising designers), comes under one roof and showcase their best collections, every year, consistently with the platform and hopefully one day, when the platform (KLFW) that I have created could put Malaysia as the Fashion Hub in the world Fashion Map in Asia or South East Asia. I want to grow with the designers as their brands evolve and we (KLFW) have a huge pool of designers who have been with us since the inception of our platform, I am really grateful for that.
How has KLFW evolved through the years? Before the existence of KLFW, the designers and the retail/ lifestyle market was very fragmented. Most of the designers were remained in the century of made to measure (including bespoke) or bridal wear. The fashion landscape changed when I uphold the word “Ready-To-Wear” (RTW) and it has been a direction that is set for KLFW, up until today. To further explain why the fashion landscape in Malaysia changed is because most of the designers are being challenged to break through their comfort zone (made to measure) and go into RTW business. It was a completed change for the designers in term of the business perspective as they will need to target the mass market and associate with the current trends in order to be relevant and survive in the mass market competition. RTW trend is also part of KLFW’s mission to gear up the designers for online shopping revolution (which is happening now), their business model need to be versatile, they can have offline store, be it an outlet or a pop up store but they are capable of doing digital business too. We managed to prove to the world that Malaysian designers’ design are current, relevant yet on the business side, they are relatable to E-retail.
Which results are you proud of in particular? I will have to say it is AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search (AARRDS) contest. A designer search contest created by AirAsia and KLFW for the ASEAN talents to be seen. We turn the dream into reality for the uprising designers each of the ASEAN countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. It begins with audition in all the main cities of each ASEAN country, from there we choose the Top 2 designers and both of them will be competing during AARRDS Finale on the runway of KLFW. It has comes to the fourth edition and I am fascinated by the new designers every year. As a collaborative efforts between AirAsia and KLFW, young designers in the region being able to expose themselves to another, break through the communication barriers through exchanging their designing ideas as well as their cultural point of view. Every year, we work together alongside with other 9 Asian countries to bring in their media (international media) to attend KLFW. The national and international media coverage are doubtlessly tremendous and the massive exposure is being shed on the designers, for our sponsors & partners and Malaysian Tourism as a whole.
Which are the geographical areas where the brands of KLFW are more interesting to expand? It really depends. Because we are a platform, not a designing house that needs direct focus on the future prospects and market directions. We have to put our platform as neutral. Therefore, we are open to all markets and whenever opportunity comes, we can recommend our designers which direction to go for. Generally, it has always been a dream for designers to bring their brand to the Europe market but after all it depends. Some brands aesthetic could probably fit their brand into the Mid-Eastern countries more effortlessly, some China and some South East Asia. KLFW often encourage designers to shoot for the stars but there are always options outside.
Which are there most relevant events connected with KLFW? There are a lot of events out there trying their best to associate with KLFW but from my point of view, in term of the most relevant events, I would say it is shopping festival nationally and internationally fashion week from all over the world. In Malaysia, we have several prime E-commerce platforms/ E-retailers like FashionValet, Shopee and Zalora. We are truly appreciate to have the those giant digital players coming to us, trying to be a part of KLFW in different forms of collaboration, like online business educational programs and so. Also, we have Boost, an E-wallet app in Malaysia to be working with us on spreading the awareness of having an e-wallet is the future of fashion as well as the economic in general. Therefore, it is crucial for KLFW to prepare the designers for the digital game and to sure the designers are well-connected with E-retailers and to have their collections constantly available online on different channels. Annually, other international fashion week platforms around the globe will be extending invitation to KLFW and our homegrown designers. For instance, Pure London, Tranoi Paris, New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, London Modest Fashion Week, Amazon Tokyo Fashion Week, Busan Fashion Week, Seoul Fashion Week, CENTERSTAGE by Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Jakarta Fashion Week, Lao Fashion Week and more. KLFW has always been encouraging our designers to break through by going out of Malaysia to network with international buyers and traders. While through the conversation, they can explore every possible opportunity, maximise their learning abroad, widen their horizons and re-apply it in the market of their mothership (Malaysia).
Do you see a room for further growth of men fashion in KLFW? That is for sure and it is accelerating, particularly, streetwear. Streetwear as one of the prominent business model in the industry, contributes to a huge market of menswears too. We have a significant rising number of men’s fashion brand that showcased during KLFW and in recent year, there are quite a number of designers are aggressively exploring their menswear market by incorporating a few menswear looks alongside with their women collections. Also, some of the designers are currently challenging themselves to create some gender fluidity clothing and it was well-applaud too.
Let’s talk about Mr Andrew! What are some of your passions in life? I love Fashion! Of course I couldn’t give arts, culture, music and travel a miss. Arts, culture and music are co-related and co-exist with each other in one way or another, in which the combination of all is more than a feast to the eyes but it gives an extraordinary experience of fashion. When it comes to travel, the moment that I capture and how I personally feel towards the uncommon things actually equipped and envisioned myself to have multi-perspective when it comes challenges and decision-making in the fashion industry. Those are the passions that eventually encompassed myself for what I am doing as culture transcends borders and fashion transcends geographical boundaries.
Fashion designer that inspires you? Dries Van Noten, Diane von Furstenberg, Sacai, Valentino, Alessandro Michele, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and more!
Any suggestion to young generations that want to start careers in fashion? Intern, Intern, Intern, please! Work under a design house. This is what define you, later on.
Photo Credits: KLFW Creatives Division
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