10 minutes with: Khoon Hooi

The fashion designer shares with us his career highlights and the inspiration behind his Raya collection this year.

Khoon Hooi x DeGem 2018 Raya collection preview

What is your most memorable and significant career moment?
During award ceremonies when I receive recognition from the industry and my peers for the commitment I put in 24/7 to perfect my skills in fashion design.

What is your favourite part of the job?
Seeing the final product on people is the most fulfilling aspect of being a fashion designer, especially during weddings — to be able to play a part on such a memorable day.

What is your go-to method to keep calm when chaos strikes at work?
Prior to approaching chaos, I like to take short breaks in the car park sitting in my Mini Cooper to close my eyes, stop, re-group and remind myself to be resilient.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri collections are very popular at the moment. What is your take on this and how different is designing festive wear compared with the rest of your collections?
A local heritage theme, which is generally downplayed in the main collections, usually takes the front seat when we design for Chinese New Year and Hari Raya. There is less planning involved in creating these local capsule collections as customers prefer back-to-basics designs. So the formula always stays the same. It is good competition for us, to see the up-and-coming local designers emerge come Raya season.

I understand that travel inspires you. Did any of your travel destinations inspire this year’s Hari Raya collection?
This year, My inspiration comes from my hometown, Parit Buntar [in Perak]. The collection pays homage to the kebaya pieces in the closet of my beloved grandmother. We have come up with a collection that celebrates a traditional vibe with a modern flourish.


Earlier this year, you collaborated with BMW to design limited-edition ang pao packets. What does this mean to you in terms of the ever-evolving world of design?
Collaborations are necessary sometimes as I see them as an extension of individual possibilities through a shared experience. In the BMW experience, the synergy between both brands has brought out the best in creativity and design. It also enhanced the customer experience, especially for their female target market.

What is your typical weekend like?
I still enjoy going through the morning newspapers at my local kopitiam. Occasionally, I go to my APW Bangsar [in Kuala Lumpur] showroom to meet with clients for appointments and fittings. My to-go-to exercises would be yoga classes at Uppercase and indoor cycling with friends.


This interview first appeared on May 28, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.


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