With the uncertainty brought upon by the current landscape, it goes without saying that change and transformation are happening fast and beyond our control. If anything, it has pushed many creatives to constantly experiment, evolve and grow their talents.
As part of a special collaboration to celebrate craftsmanship and strive for excellence, Swiss Watch and IWC join forces with three esteemed Malaysian fashion designers to talk about their personal challenges in the last two years, and how they have had to adapt and pivot to stay ahead of their game.
Jovian Mandagie on sticking together and putting trust in leadership
Since launching his eponymous brand — Jovian — back in August 2012, Jovian Mandagie has established himself as one of the top designers in Malaysia. Jovian’s collections are highly sought after, and for good reasons too, because his designs are always meant to accentuate a woman’s looks whether it is a couture piece or ready-to-wear. That same intent played a big part in carrying Jovian through the COVID-19 crisis, which he admits riddled him with uncertainty.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen next, but fortunately with the support from my team and our ‘Jovianistas’, we managed to quickly pivot the business, moving from designing fashion apparel to essential items like face masks,” says Jovian.
The decision to move into accessories not only helped him weather the storm, but also opened up new opportunities for him in the world of fashion design.
He confides that despite its challenges, COVID-19 has made the team at Jovian realise different things about themselves. From trusting leadership to depending on the team, it is incredibly crucial to support and have each other’s backs. The crisis was an eye-opener and shed light on the importance of sticking together.
As a designer with a penchant for timeless, evergreen and classic lines, Jovian finds himself drawn toward the IWC Portugieser Automatic Boutique Edition IW500713. With its attention to detail on a minute scale, appliquéd Arabic numerals and slender feuille hands, the 42.3mm stainless steel model exemplifies the Portugieser design exquisitely.
Rizman Nordin on embracing change and making the most of new opportunities
Rizman Nordin is a designer who’s in touch with his own unique flair and vision by combining colourful and glamorous red-carpet theatrics. Running the prominent fashion label Rizman Ruzaini with longtime business partner Wan Ruzaini Wan Jamil, the brand is known to showcase designs that are synonymous to their own distinctive identity.
But Rizman is also blessed with formidable business acumen to match his creativity as a designer. Finding opportunities and ways to succeed in business is fuelled by his responsibility as a leader. When the pandemic hit, the brand immediately shifted to an online platform to cater to the ‘new normal’.
“I realised people were staying home, so I transformed my business to cater to this new dynamic,” Rizman recalls. “I have a strong team behind me, and I know they are dependent on me, so that is my motivation.”
Although COVID-19 has been disruptive for all businesses alike, the designer admits that being at home has given him the luxury of family time. He has been able to be with his wife all throughout her pregnancy with their first daughter, and watch her grow — for which he is immensely grateful.
A busy man like Rizman is someone who divides his day into routines. To match his bustling lifestyle, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar IW503605 is a perfect fit for him. With its 46mm stainless steel case and blue dial, it continues the long-standing tradition of Big Pilot’s perpetual calendar watches — keeping the wearer’s pulse on time and tasks at hand.
Khoon Hooi on the power of perseverance in the uncertainty of time
Having been at the forefront of the industry since the late 90s, Khoon Hooi has become a household name in Malaysian fashion after launching his own label. But alas — like most — the pandemic proved to be a huge challenge for him.
“Our brand focuses on occasion wear, so COVID-19 proved to be a particularly challenging time for us,” Khoon Hooi shares. “There were no events, no weddings, and on top of that we were also running production by ourselves, which came to an abrupt halt.”
Despite the challenges, Khoon Hooi faces them head on. He shifts gears and evolves his brand from just occasion wear design to introducing lifestyle creations that can be worn every day, such as loungewear, masks and kaftans for children.
Khoon Hooi expresses that the lockdown has made it feel like time has been slowing down, and it has allowed him to think of his future. It shifts his perspective as a fashion designer. He is also immensely proud of his team for stepping up and working together through the hardest of times.
Time has proven to be a luxury for Khoon Hooi. The designer admits that it is indeed precious, especially because of his packed schedule. For this reason, he finds the qualities of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 IW329301 very appealing. Functional and stylish, it exudes the qualities of a true aviator’s watch. The 43-millimetre stainless steel timepiece affords a strong presence on the wrist, and is equipped with a self-winding automatic movement.
Discovering Hope Through a Creative Lens
Through these unique stories shared by Malaysia’s leading fashion designers, Swiss Watch and IWC Schaffhausen have offered a glimpse into the challenges faced by this diverse group of individuals. It highlights the creativity, tenacity and resilience that have been forged during times of adversity. Yet it also demonstrates that despite the disruption, this challenging period has also presented an opportunity for many to adapt, re-evaluate, and take stock of their lives.
This collaboration between Swiss Watch and IWC Schaffhausen with Jovian Mandagie, Rizman Nordin and Khoon Hooi highlights the trials, tribulations and perseverance faced by many during the global crisis. This intimate journey of hope and inspiration told through the lens of these talented designers is intended to serve as an important source of encouragement during these truly unprecedented times.
Swiss Watch is an authorised retailer for IWC Schaffhausen, located on Level 2, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.