In Conversation with Motoguo: Voices for the Future

In this series of intimate narratives, the trio behind Motoguo share their thoughts on Malaysian fashion, surviving the lockdown and their plans for the future post-pandemic.

In Conversation with Motoguo

From Left: Kinder, Moto and Jay

HOW IT STARTED …

JAY: We founded our label in 2015 and as of this year, we’ve been in the industry for 6 years.

MOTO: It was my background in classical music, playing the double bass and violin coupled with my interest in fashion that guided my affinity for fine arts and fashion design.

KINDER: Having a close bond with my two mothers. I would often trail them to noisy saloons during the late ’90s while observing the girlie talks between my stepmother and stepsister— those were one of my earliest memories. I would be seated with colourful old-school fashion magazines as the ladies chatted away to the aroma of freshly brewed tea and the clinking of pretty china, which intrigued me to be a creator of captivating garments associated with vintage and romance.

THOUGHTS ON THE MALAYSIAN FASHION INDUSTRY …

JAY: We think that Malaysia has always been booming with talented designers, but the progress in the fashion industry has been stagnant and unfortunately, the pandemic has also hindered so much of that progress. To overcome this issue, we think better initiatives should be introduced with the aim of educating the public consumers as our culture is still rather conservative. To start, we think that the local scene needs to be restructured and have more private and government initiatives that caters to not just the fashion industry but also the art scene as we think that our local talents and designers can benefit from this systematic change.

MOTO & KINDER: Agreed. When we first presented our collections, our main challenge within the local landscape was acceptance. At first, many who were new to our brand were quite sceptical about the wearability of our pieces and showcasing our works internationally was our way of overcoming this perception. Over the years, it is great to see many emerging designers in the local scene educating their consumers on social media about their brand’s core and aesthetics.

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Having said that, as Jay mentioned previously, it would be great if we could have more fashion and art initiatives catered to our talents and designers. Educating our local consumers to be more open minded on designer labels would be a start as our culture still has a rather conservative mindset when it comes to local talents and designers. We also think it’s important for homegrown talents and designers to be involved and assist in the fundamental growth of the industry as we understand the improvements needed.

In Conversation with Motoguo

SS21 Campaign

TREADING INTERNATIONAL WATERS: A DIFFERENT APPROACH …

MOTO & KINDER: Having traded and participated in Shanghai Fashion Week for a few years now, we saw its growth and today, it is one of the industry’s most notable Fashion Weeks. The main contributing factor was having a platform (such as Labelhood) that supported independent designers. Today, that platform is highly regarded and remains a fashion powerhouse in China. Labelhood does it all: from hosting live runway shows to creating e-commerce platforms for emerging designers and even livestreaming directly to customers. We hope to be able to see a local organisation like this in the near future.

Educate your consumers about the brand and reflect often on the brand’s core and ideals. Do not be wavered by fast trends and mass commerciality and most importantly, work hard to build a stable business strategically and creatively!—KINDER

COPING WITH LOCKDOWN …

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MOTO, KINDER & JAY: During the first lockdown, the industry went into an abrupt pause, which took more of a toll on us emotionally and mentally as we had deliveries that could not be attended to and bills to pay. But we were lucky enough to overcome most of the effects of the first lockdown. Since then, we started to prepare for the worst and planned ahead. Ultimately, we learnt not to put all of our eggs in one basket.

As of now we are still keeping busy restructuring, re-strategizing and mentally adapting to this new norm. With that being said, we saw it as a blessing and a curse, as it gave us time to reflect and ponder on what we wanted to achieve for the future of our brand. Given the circumstances now, we have increased our foothold in the digital spectrum of the business such as boosting our presence through our own online store in addition to launching our flagship store on Tmall—one of the biggest e-commence sites in China.

THE FUTURE OF FASHION …

MOTO: Before the pandemic, the global fashion industry was going at such a fast pace that it started to seem endless and many had hoped that it would slow down—which it did for awhile. But now that the dust has settled and everything is starting to get back on track (with live runways returning at Fashion Week), it seems that not much has changed except the fact that more brands are now hopping on the digital bandwagon and many have e-commence as an integral part of their business.

KINDER: The pandemic was a wake-up call for many, as even some of the most renowned brands have unfortunately, not survived the pandemic. We think that trend-driven brands and brands focused on longevity and sustainability will still co-exist side by side, albeit with changes to their business model, which is exciting and great to see.

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IMPORTANT LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE …

MOTO, KINDER & JAY: One of the biggest lessons that we have learnt from this pandemic is that communication is key. The lockdown and closing of international borders restricted our movement and hands-on approach when dealing with manufactures and buyers. Like everyone else, everything had to be done remotely—from communicating with our staff and seamstresses, to connecting with our buyers and manufacturers—to ensure that the sales and production were running smoothly. Also, another important thing that we have learnt is to be rational and problem-solve as a team. If the pandemic thought us anything, the saying “if there’s will there’s way” holds especially true.

In Conversation with Motoguo

SS21 Campaign

FEELING HOPEFUL …

MOTO, KINDER & JAY: We draw our inspirations from anything and everything around us. Oftentimes, it comes unexpectedly, as long as we keep an open mind. To keep us motivated, we take time out of our busy schedules to catch up on movies and music while sharing our thoughts and even business ideas with friends. Of course, we can’t wait to travel and be at the showrooms during Paris and Shanghai Fashion Week in addition to hosting live runways and establishing genuine relationships with our international buyers once again.

KINDER: On another note, we are currently in the midst of developing our Spring/Summer ’22 collection along with a few major collaborations—one of them being with Disney in the coming months. For more information, stay tuned to our Instagram @motoguo.

 

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This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR Malaysia August 2021 issue.

Discover more from this series here: Cassey Gan, Alia Bastamam, Khoon Hooi.