“ Don’t always just think fashion is a glamorous industry. If you just wantto become famous and rich, then it is better to move on to other businesses. You must have passion for it. Fashion needs a lot of love, passion, hard work and patience. ”
Exhibit: Melinda Looi – the brand has grown to become a celebrated one in Malaysia and making waves internationally. How would you like to describe the journey?
Melinda Looi: There were a lot of challenges. It was never easy. I started out sharing a workshop with another designer friend of mine. We shared the cutting table with only one cutter and one sewing lady back in 2000. After the first year, we finally bought a second sewing machine and hired one more staff. It was tough; I was running around buying fabrics and all the materials. I was even my own counter promoter/ sales person. Fashion is an on-going business and a fast-paced industry. We have to constantly keep up with the current trends and come out with new things. If we slow down, we will be left behind
Exhibit: How would you like to describe your style of design?
Melinda Looi: Some describe it as avantgarde, some say provocative. I think they are just art pieces that will last forever in your memory- full of details, character and layering.
Exhibit: What, according to you, are the most striking points of Asian fashion?
Melinda Looi: The vivid colors, detailing, and rich cultural heritage in the designs and materials.
Exhibit: How would you like to describe the fashion scene in Malaysian?
Melinda Looi: The fashion scene in Malaysia has expanded and professionalized at a very fast pace where we today host some of the top malls of the world filled with all the brands you expect and know. This has put a lot of pressure on the local brands and I find that this created even more so the need for focusing on niches, doing what you are really good in and what you are very passionate about
Exhibit: What do you think about the blend between Fashion and Technology?
Melinda Looi: I was given the opportunity twice to create a collection of fashion and technology and the results were 3D printed fashion collections! I personally think 3D printing will change the fashion scene on a larger scale maybe not now, but in times to come. 3D printing will be ushering in a new era by enabling a machine to produce objects of any shape, on the spot and as needed. For a creative person like me, it’s a dream come true!
Exhibit: Melinda Looi and Tech – what is the relationship like?
Melinda Looi: I embrace latest technologies but I am usually inspired by the old; by the vintage. So in a sense I am merging both in my collections and work.
Exhibit: Name some tech gadgets you can’t do without on a personal level.
Melinda Looi: I can’t go without my laptop and my smart phone!
Exhibit: Tell us about your most recent collection.
Melinda Looi: My latest collection is Hi-Tea In Shanghai 2017/2018. Oriental prints can be found in various shapes, colors, and sizes in the collection, all with a modern twist. In true Melinda Looi signature, the collection is rich in exclusive detailing and a unique mix of fabrics such as jacquards, batik and laces. I especially created 4 exclusive oriental prints for the collection being inspired by the beautiful and vivid colors of Shanghai during nighttime.
Exhibit: Do you depend on any technology – gadget or app – for professional purposes?
Melinda Looi: I use a couple of apps beside the camera app like the dropbox app, as I constantly need to access my designs, material pictures and other files on the go.
Exhibit: How is social media impacting the fashion scene?
Melinda Looi: Social media has had a huge impact in the fashion scene. It is able to connect those who live abroad with the brand in just a few clicks of a button. It enables a direct one-to-one dialog for us.
Exhibit: How else do you plan to utilise tech in the future?
Melinda Looi: Honest answer: I don’t know, but I am looking forward to it. The best of technology is that there are always surprises and new developments and I will always be looking forward to embracing them.
Exhibit: How difficult or easy was creating the Tech-Fashion space?
Melinda Looi: It was challenging but fun! We did a fashion show in Malaysia with Materialise for the launch of our first 3D printed collection and the collection thereafter was shown at various other print shows around the world e.g. London, Tokyo, Singapore, and China. For the fashion community, 3D printing is still very new. Our current objective is to get our next collection on a cover of a top fashion magazine, which turns out to be much more difficult than expected but we won’t give up 😉 As for the response, the fashion community likes new things but with regards to 3D printed garments, it is more of a concept and PR tool as of now. This is due to the given high cost and fragile nature of the dresses or shoes. The way forward, at least now, is accessories.
Exhibit: What was your first big break like and who was it for?
Melinda Looi: My first big break was when I won a scholarship to La Salle School of Fashion in Montreal, Canada to pursue my dreams. It was my initial teacher as a fashion designer who inspired me, gave me a lot of encouragement and created my passion for fashion. My graduation collection in 1995 catapulted me to attention when I was awarded the “Malaysian Young Designer 1995 in Kuala Lumpur.”
Exhibit: Who is the best person to dress in your collections?
Melinda Looi: My couture clients; I love to dress them all.
Exhibit: What or who inspires you?
Melinda Looi: There’s no exact answer to this question as I follow my intuition. I get inspiration in the most unexpected moments and often there is a story behind my collection. I need to be stimulated to stay creative and the best way is to try something I’ve never done before. I like to challenge my ability to produce better products from year to year.
Exhibit: Words of advice for aspiring fashion designers.
Melinda Looi: Don’t always just think fashion is a glamorous industry. If you just want to become famous and rich, then it is better to move on to other businesses. You must have passion for it. Fashion needs a lot of love, passion, hard work and patience. Always do your very best and you will always be able to look back thinking you have given your all; that way you won’t miss anything and you will be satisfied with yourself. Know yourself first. Have your own style and identity. Don’t follow others blindly. Don’t care about what other say about you and your style; it’s not important as long as you believe in yourself.
Exhibit: What next for Melinda Looi in 2018?
Melinda Looi: As usual we are having a range of collections from Couture to ready-towear up to our Ramadan collections. We will also have some non-fashion ventures up our sleeves, but they are still confidential so stay tuned to our social media to find out more as we launch them.
- Tech and Fashion: The Future of Fashion.
- Go-to fashion trend: Mixed Culture
- Color of the season: Metallic
- Your muse: Today’s women.
- One Fashion fad you keep yourself away from: Tight-fitted dresses.
- If not fashion industry, then where would you be: Food
- Most exotic vacation: Morroco
- Best piece of advice given to you: Always do your best.
- Evergreen style statement: Black