CEO Series

The One Major Issue This M'sian Designer Has With An Industry That Adores Her

  • After presenting in KL Fashion Week, Ezzati Amira’s ready-wear designs shot to popularity. 
  • Nonetheless, the brand still struggles to create sustainability. 
  • She admits that competition is tough with affordable high-volume brands, but she vows to educate Malaysians about fashion. 

Ezzati Amira is basically a mainstay for the KL Fashion Week, presenting a refreshing blend of masculine elements into elegant and comfortable looks.

The aesthetic has been Ezzati’s signature ever since—on the runway and in her self-named store. Much has been said about this 29-year-old fashionista’s eye for design.

Selling limited edition off-the-rack pieces, you won’t find any of this designer’s pieces for below RM100.

Costs run high when you’re only selling a limited number of pieces per design, but Ezzati has been able to sell 70% to 80% of her products per season, which translates to roughly 600 pieces in a recent 6-month period.

Raya brings more sales for the Ezzati Amira brand, being able to sell approximately 500 pieces within 2 months.

She also designs for weddings and magazine editorials, like this look for Hunny Madu / Image Credit; Ezzati Amira

Widespread fashion media attention and a pretty healthy reputation among fashionistas abound for this local designer, but Ezzati admitted that, “We are still not making enough yet.”

“I think with our really bad economy, we are all trying to survive and cope with this.”

This means that it might take some time for the label to break even, but Ezzati is convinced that it’s normal for businesses to be in the red during their first 3 to 5 years.

Making money instantly would be great, but Ezzati went into fashion with loftier goals.

“I wanted to change the way Malaysians think. I wanted to educate Malaysians to start supporting local designers and start wearing them. I wanted to produce a good range of Made in Malaysia  products and be proud of it. Basically, I want Malaysians to be more fashion cultured country.”

And she remains bullish, even if our mindset towards fashion is only shifting slowly.

Ezzati has carried this passion for fashion since her childhood, along with an aptitude for accounting.

When the crossroads of her life came, Ezzati decided to walk away from accounting and pursue her passion in the Raffles Institute of Design.

The collection of experience.

Besides selling online, the brand also has a showroom in Bangsar / Image Credit: Ezzati Amira

Ezzati honed her designer craft working for Le Ann Maxima. She was the only Malay woman in a predominantly Chinese company.

This meant that on top of designing more than 180 sketches for the brand, she then had to translate those to Mandarin.

Her job also meant that Ezzati had to deal with suppliers, handling customers, presentations, planning shows and shoots, visual merchandising, handling clothing rack displays, quality control, and “so much more”.

“It was an amazing challenge for me. I cried most of the time during my first probation period, I even applied to join other companies at that time. But in the end, I realized that all these experiences would benefit me somehow one day. And look where I am now.”

Stitching together her own brand.

After a 2-month break from Le Ann Maxima, Ezzati put pen to paper and finally launched Ezzati Amira (the brand) in 2013. She sank roughly RM10,000 to get things started.

Her big break came from joining KL Fashion Week 2013—a great platform for this up and coming ready-to-wear brand to exponentially boost their exposure. They gained a fanbase, and everyone wanted to see more.

Ezzati Amira’s first KLFW showing / Image Credit: E-Wen Hooi on Blogspot

So Ezzati carried over some hustling lessons learned in Le Ann Maxima by focusing on discipline.

“Well, I make sure my team work very fast and I make sure everyone is on the same track. We are pretty organised,” said Ezzati.

But she also involves them in the vision of the brand, as someone who emphasises teamwork.

“As a half-business minded and half-creative director in the company, I am still staying true to my bold aesthetic.”

“There’s no such thing as strategic partnerships and so on, it is all about discipline that matters. And the business will grow organically.”

Perhaps she also carried this mentality over from running Ezzati Amira as a one-woman show.

Looking back at her earliest days, Ezzati told Vulcan Post that despite multi-tasking and being organised, her work was still delayed.

“With our first production, I didn’t know a lot of production suppliers, so I spent quite a huge amount on using agents. And I thought this would be easier for me. But after just one season, I couldn’t bear with the financial cost,” said Ezzati.

Ezzati admits to being a bit “kiasu” on the brand’s finances, so she kept switching suppliers until she found a perfect fit.

“I guess this was the most important lesson that I learn is to know how to handle your financial status, but also produce good designs at the same time.”

Skirting around a market that prefers quantity over quality.

Some would argue that the Ezzati Amira brand’s prices are pretty reasonable, especially compared to other local designers. But designers in this space have bigger competition—affordable brands that sell lower-quality products at high volumes.

“To be honest, I don’t mind them starting their own businesses, but what I don’t like is the lower quality that they give to the customers which is not good. Fashion moves so fast that everyone wants to follow the same trends every season, but to offer a lower quality product is definitely a no-no.”

“These local brands who have ‘lower quality’ are definitely killing the market,” said Ezzati. “It’s hard for me to change that as a one person here. We can’t compete at all. So I think we all need to unite as one, so we can push them to buying better quality products.”

The worry from this massive competition has led Ezzati into discussions with other designer friends who agree that there should be a bigger platform to help out local designers.

“We need support,” said Ezzati. “From the government, from the local scene, celebrities, and from everyone here in Malaysia. Otherwise, it is very hard for us to survive, much less be sustainable.”

This just goes to show that fame doesn’t necessarily translate to money, and a stark lesson to entrepreneurs everywhere about resilience, especially if you aren’t profitable in the first 5-year mark.

Nevertheless, we like that the Ezzati Amira brand carries a philosophy of discipline to keep things going despite unfavourable market conditions.

 

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