The fashion industry is a competitive one where it is not easy for a brand to retain a place but Malaysia’s well-known designer, Khoon Hooi, has enjoyed 16 years on the international platform. From a young boy with an interest in beauty to today’s famous and influential fashion designer, the constant pursuit of success is Khoon Hooi’s definition of success.
Khoon Hooi was born in the northern part of Malaysia and lived with his grandmother when he was growing up. While his grandmother was not of Nyonya descent, she wore the traditional Kebaya dress every day. She paid attention to not only what she wore daily but to every aspect of her daily life as well. Perhaps it was due to her influence that Khoon Hooi grew up with an interest in beautiful things and a passion for discovering new things.
Q：How did you get started in the fashion industry?
When I first started, I thought that women’s fashion changes more rapidly, so I was more interested in designing women’s clothing. And it is every designer’s dream to be able to create their own label, so I worked towards that direction. After I graduated from high school, I went to Malaysia’s Art Institute and majored in fashion design. It was not until the year 2000 that I established my own brand.
Q：How do you make yourself stand out in the fashion industry?
Fashion and creativity go hand-in-hand, so it is up to the designer to highlight his or her own strengths and unique concepts. The most important thing is to do your own creative designs.
Q：Do you have any special requirements for your designs?
Besides a good dress design, I like to work with high-quality fabrics because the wearer’s comfort is very important too.
Q：What is the biggest challenge for you?
Firstly, the lack of funds because to design a costume is a very expensive process, from creative design to expensive fabrics to a long production time. Secondly, brand development abroad is an entirely different world altogether, but I take that as a challenge.
Q：What do you think is the characteristic of a successful man?
I think that self-confidence is very important. A successful man must have the confidence to complete his life goals.
Q：How would you define a ‘successful designer’?
Someone who never gives up when pursuing his / her dream. Fashion does not stay so we need to persevere to create new designs.
Q：What is your definition of success?
When you feel successful, that is the moment of success. It is defined by your heart and feelings, but I still do not feel successful, ha ha! I still have a long journey to go.
Q：What do you think is the secret to success?
To not stay in one place, and to actively pursue and explore new things.
Q：Share your life’s motto.
When you encounter difficulties, it is the opportunity to grow. So you must be brave and face it!
Q：How do you improve yourself?
Travelling brings me a lot of inspiration. I like rustic towns and villages, looking into local people’s daily lives, to understand their eating habits, learn how they live, and to experience a different life.
Q：The most indispensable thing in life?
Freedom is the most valuable thing to me as I yearn for a simple and unfettered life. Creative design requires elemental and creative bursts of things, but life does not need to be so complex, the simpler the better.
Q：Are you satisfied with your life at present? What are the expectations and plans for the future?
I’m about 70% satisfied with my life presently, another 30% is for me to keep on pursuing my dreams. Life is short and we need the time to improve ourselves so never give yourself full marks. I’d like to further develop my career and brand, maybe to a more international platform!
Further Reading： Frederick Lee – 40 and Appreciating Each Step in Life