Maximising on minimalism

WITH the minimalist movement taking over the wardrobe in recent years, the products that dress models and mannequins, and embellish runways and racks, tend to resemble each other at one point or another.

While designing on the premise of simplicity seems, well, simple enough, Shazwany Zaki will assure you that harmonising craftsmanship, timelessness, and unique detailing is no less painstaking than crafting a conspicuous work of art.

“To design something extravagant, you have a lot of space to channel your creativity into. But for a minimalist product, you need to add design details in the subtlest way, while keeping the simplicity and – the trickiest part – getting the cut perfect,” explained Shazwany.

Above all, the founder of her namesake womenswear label (www.shazwanyzaki.com) is a fierce believer of incorporating design value into her products, lest they become “just another piece of clothing”. In Shazwany’s philosophy, the brand and its products must turn problems into solutions, and to achieve that, she has Jane as her compass.

“I conceptualised Jane to portray different lifestyles, and I create collections based on her lifestyle or a phase in her life.

“Through research, I stumbled upon the fact that many women have a lot of clothes but don’t know what to wear because they don’t know what they need or love, and the clothes they have don’t work for their lifestyles,” the 30-year-old highlighted.

Hence, Shazwany bases her collections on the theory of the capsule wardrobe. Even though each of her collection will not carry more than 12 pieces, the designer intends for it to be able to metamorphose into 25 looks with ease. The design process calculates the fit of each piece on different body types as well.

“I want it to be sustainable in a way, since I don’t have the capital to produce using sustainable fabrics. So I did this to educate my customers that you don’t always have to buy clothes that are cheap and fleeting – you can buy one good piece that’ll last long in terms of design, and style it in many ways,” said Shazwany.

Taking the pragmatic route in an often quixotic and ostentatious industry is by and large attributed to the four years Shazwany spent in London College of Fashion, including her nine-month industrial placement at luxury fashion house Chalayan.

Compared to the womenswear course, Shazwany articulated that fashion design and development is more compact in nature, and its syllabus, a lot more in-depth. In 90% of her course projects, Shazwany worked directly with industry players, hence she learnt to create products that must have values – realistic in terms of wearability, marketability, and production.

Additionally, the Shah Alam citizen worked closely with Hussein Chalayan, and was the only assistant to get her hands dirty in all three of his (luxury, premium, and Japan-exclusive) lines. Describing the British-Turkish designer as “humble” and “talented”, Shazwany also designed materials for two seasons of Paris Fashion Week during her stint.

“My key takeaway from Chalayan is that in the business of fashion, you really need to know your target audience. You may have a great product, and the people to admire it, but they wouldn’t buy it if they’re not in your target market.

“Hussein once went bankrupt, but he wasn’t egoistic and did not insist to only design for the luxury line. He rebuilt his brand by understanding the market and changing to adapt to the business. Now, Chalayan is stronger than ever,” gushed the pint-sized designer.

Taking a leaf out of Hussein’s book, Shazwany has directed her focus to appeal to the Malaysian audience in her upcoming fourth collection. Hitherto, her clientele is based in Europe, thus this would be her first time diverting into a different price range, material, and even colours.

“I can honestly say 4.0 is confused in terms of style. I tried designing something that doesn’t have to be lined to suit our weather, and I also introduced coral in it – which is so not Shazwany Zaki,” she laughed, adding that the collection is due to roll out in April, following the launch of the brand’s pilot Raya collection.

Only then, can Shazwany’s vision of a core collection materialise. The designer’s brainchild will essentially be a compilation of Shazwany Zaki’s bestsellers, invented to be accessible at all times for those in search of a quality piece that’s always in style.