26-Year-Old Malaysian Launches Batik Collection That Sold Out Within 2 Days
While many of us were barely holding a crayon at five, Jeffery Goh was already doodling clothing designs and getting his dad to make them a reality at that age
The now 26-year-old Malaysian has come a long way since then, having launched his own bridal and ready-to-wear brands under Jeffery Goh Creations.
Born and raised in Selangor, Goh graduated with a Fashion Design degree in Raffles Design Institute in 2017. He was exposed to fashion from a very young age having grown up with a dad who ran a wholesale Malay clothing business.
"During high school, while everyone was out vacationing with their families during the school holidays, I was helping my dad with stock management and sales. Through that, I have learnt so much on how he speaks to customers, how he designs the clothes, and also dealing with manufacturers. I even went with him to the manufacturers to see how it was all done in a huge factory," he shares with SAYS.
Although his father has since retired, Goh continues the legacy with his own collections that are versatile and easy-to-wear for every function
Taking beautiful batik materials and combining them with contemporary designs, the designer modernises the traditional cloth, making it wearable for all ages.
7 July 2022 marked the first year of his small business known as 'inisaya', which directly translates to 'this is me' in Bahasa Melayu.
Goh admitted that he had struggled to love himself throughout his formative years, as well as in college. But with the support from his family and friends, he has slowly learnt to believe and be proud of his own identity and roots.
"The words 'ini' and 'saya' are two simple and common words that we, Malaysians, know and use daily. Our tagline is 'Be comfortable, be unique, be you'. It is to show that we want our customers to stand out and be comfortable by being themselves in our clothing."
"Honestly, it was terrifying at first, not knowing what the public would think, speculating if people would love or hate my designs, but I also feel that I had nothing to lose anyway and in fact, it's a win-win.
"If I proceed and people don't like them, at least I know I did what I could and I can learn from the mistakes I made. Of course, if people do like them, I could continue to grow the brand as what I am doing now!
"I've also loved the challenge of thinking of what can I do with every batik print that I come across, and I always love to honour every batik design I want to make into clothing," the 26-year-old adds.
All the hard work paid off when his first collection sold out within the first two days of its launch!
"I remember sitting on my sofa staring at my phone after I launched the collection. My friends and family were super supportive by sharing the posts, which was when I started getting orders and DMs from people all over Malaysia. I was freaking out because I never would've expected so many orders!"
Despite the current challenge to keep up with production demands, Goh is grateful for the love that customers have shown for his pieces since the start of inisaya
"I always feel the highest form of compliment is when someone with vast sewing experience compliments your workmanship. Until now, it means the world to me when people DM inisaya saying how much they love our workmanship/quality. It really motivates me to keep working hard."
Plenty of work and love goes into each piece, which usually takes around two months to create, from the planning stage to its launch.
"After having the designs, we proceed to create and troubleshoot the fits. I will invite my friends and family to try the designs to see how they will fit on different body types. We will try our best to design something versatile that can show off your best assets and also fit most body types rather than fitted/unflattering pieces for certain body types," he shares.
"Normally, this part takes the longest because we want most customers to love our fits, and when something fits you, you will tend to wear it longer. We want timeless clothing that will stay in your wardrobe for a very long time, something that you can wear to different events and functions when you style it differently.
"We don't want to be like those fast fashion brands where it's cheap, and when someone buys something and it doesn't fit them, they will be like 'it's okay, it's really cheap anyway,' then proceeds to just not wear them/throw them away."
However, steering clear of fast fashion methods hasn't been the easiest journey, as his team tries to keep processes sustainable while putting every bit of scrap to use
"It is not easy to make sure every piece contains the same part of the batik considering that we are also trying to be sustainable with our fabrics. The scraps that are left out of the sarong will be used to make scrunchies, masks, batik bags, and pouches."
Goh, who comes up with new designs and collections every three months, shares that a common battle they face is that "people nowadays are so used to fast fashion producing thousands of new designs every few weeks".
"We are trying to take a more sustainable approach in producing our pieces to make [customers] feel and look more special.
"Which is why normally when we launch, we produce only a very little amount of ready stock and the rest of the fabric will be for made-to-order, so people can customise their designs a little bit."
His most recent collection called 'bunga' is inspired by his late grandmother, who passed away a month before he started inisaya.
"I would say that she is part of my inspiration in everything I do. She would always talk to me about stories during the Japanese invasion and how she used to dress up all the time. [She'd] remind all of her grandchildren that during Chinese New Year, we all have to wear vibrant colours to invite a vibrant and colourful New Year into our lives," he shares.
"Since then, both of my CNY collections have been inspired by her words. The 'bunga' collection includes vibrant batik prints, effortless, and elegant designs. One of the pieces is specifically named after her, Minfah. The reason why I named it after her is because that piece exudes freedom and grace, it is very her! The rest of the collection is also named after different flowers that she loved.
"All in all, every piece I design and create has a place in my heart, I love all of them!"
Having handled everything on his own in the beginning, Goh has since grown a small team, which includes a full-time assistant, Audrey, as well as two part-time freelance tailors.
Moving forward, he aims to not just limit themselves to batik, but to expand to other Malaysian-inspired prints as well
"We're looking to produce our own prints next year and it is so exciting! Everyone can expect many more new designs and concepts that we are going to have in the following year.
They also plan to join more bazaars in the future, so they can meet customers, and gain feedback as they can feel the quality of their fabrics in-person.
To conclude our interview, Goh shares a tip that he's learnt along the way.
"Before starting this brand, I was always waiting for the 'right time' to start this, but in reality, there is no 'right time'. Rather [it's] to be able to take advantage of an opportunity, the 'right time' is when you actually do something about it and start it."
Goh adds that he's looking to expand his team, and encourages young and fresh graduates who are willing to put in the effort to learn to grow together as a company.
"Lastly, I hope that everyone gets to see the personal touch that we put in our services, designs, and most importantly, the brand. The love and passion I have for both inisaya and my bridal wear brand is immense and I can't imagine myself doing anything else other than fashion."
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