An Interview With Cassey Gan: Patchwork, Persistence, And A Powerful Perspective

It is undisputed that Cassey Gan has a way with prints. Her nonconformist perspective is highlighted by the 31-year-old’s ability to manipulate textiles and combine a range of fabrications to create her vibrant yet daring pieces. BAZAAR catches up with the dauntless designer to discuss her unique take on style, the Malaysian fashion industry and her upcoming showcase at KL Fashion Week.

Aside from your innovation, fabrication and silhouettes, you are also renowned for your incredible prints. Tell us about your print creation and what inspires your colouration?
Cassey Gan (CG): As our tagline suggests, inspiration is everywhere and, it truly is. My travels, conversations with people, a day out walking in the city; anything can be an inspiration – even a pile of rubbish by the roadside can be an inspiration for colours and shapes! In terms of colouration, I tend to like to mix cold and warm colours to create a sort of visual balance which is difficult to describe in words. But when I see something that works, it will somehow feel right.

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Your work incorporates the use of patchwork collages which are worn in layers. As a Malaysian designer with an international appeal, how do you incorporate layers when creating pieces to be worn in our Malaysian weather (where layers may not be the most temperature-friendly option)
CG: I always ensure the fabrics I use are breathable for our climate and I always ensure that the layers are detachable. Instead of layering with jackets, I tend to like to layer with bibs or vests.

What are customers buying into when they purchase a piece from Cassey Gan?
CG: Prints, quirky shapes, and an ease for mixing and matching separates.

How has your background in engineering affected or enhanced your perspective on fashion?
CG: I am quite structured in terms of running the business. I plan quite extensive, and I think that comes from my engineering background. In my designs, I somehow keep them quite precise and calculated, which I think is subconsciously influenced by my training in engineering.

How do you find new ways to evolve and be inspired?
CG: I always try to learn new things that are not always related to fashion. I also try to have more team-building activities with my team so that we can inspire each other through the activities. We will look out for activities in trends like tufting and pottery for example because you just never know what you learn in other fields may, in turn, inspire some concepts or ideas – which we can use for creating a collection.

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Can you share with us what it was like running a business both during and post-pandemic?
CG: During the pandemic, I must admit, was a tough and extremely quiet time. But also, because of that downtime, I had an opportunity to really think about how I want to drive the brand forward. It was during the pandemic that I started to develop more products that we don’t have to produce in-house. As a result, a home/lifestyle range was born. Moving forward, I would hope that Cassey Gan will not only be a fashion brand, but it will also be a print-based homeware/lifestyle brand.

Will you be presenting a collection at this year’s KL Fashion Week? And what are you most excited by when preparing (and showcasing) your next collection?
CG: Yes, we will be presenting this year. The most exciting part is always having people who have been supporting the brand come together to watch the show together. It’s like having a very heart-warming party!

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In regards to the future of Malaysian fashion, what, in your opinion, needs to evolve to take the industry to the next level?
CG: I do see some young brands showing some great work with strong brand DNA and identity. For example, Behati and Ghostboy, their identities are really strong, and they are not afraid to showcase who they are, which is awesome. If more brands like that start to come forth, it will be exciting moving forward for Malaysian fashion!

How does Cassey Gan aim to change the local fashion landscape?
Hopefully we can continue on this trajectory of bringing more prints and happy colours to the local fashion landscape and continue to bring joy to people who identify with the brand.