Culture, Lifestyle

The defiance of fashion standards

The defiance of fashion standards

When design transcends the touchstone of aesthetics and functionality.

What makes a good design? The appearance of an item that is easy on the eye or the outrageous outlook of an unconventional creation that keeps us hooked in a flash? Perhaps it is the desirable functionality every consumer seeks or the timeless design that will stand the test of time.

For Potionz, UglyPretty and Huntilanak, their definition of design goes beyond the nuts and bolts stated in the rulebook. Every piece dreamed up looks like it belongs to the virtual world of gaming, something that easily holds court with its enthralling visual language.

UglyPretty (@__________uglypretty)

Malaysian designer Daren could not have chosen a more fitting name for his eponymous brand. A graduate of Esmod Kuala Lumpur, Daren has been dedicating his life to creations that upend public perception of aesthetic, thanks to his off-kilter approach that appeals to a clique that lives and breathes unconventionality. With a quick glance at his Instagram account, we can easily notice his style that speaks of the current fashion proposition, which subverts the dominant quiet luxury trend — frayed finish, norm-defying print and distressed looks — all translating through his very lexicon.

How would you describe your design?

I would portray my designs as raw, quirky, and unconventional, offering a sense of “unfinished” that reveals beauty in unexpected ways.

What inspires the design?

The Moonbeam Bag draws inspiration from the moon and the river within a dark forest. The idea came to me while I’m meditating to a song. The silhouette of the bag resembles a water splash, and the fabric evokes the reflection of moonlight.


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A post shared by yinyangboi (@_____yinyangboi_____)

How do you incorporate visual impact and functionality into your designs?

In my design process, I always prioritise both visual impact and functionality. One way I strike a balance between the two is by ensuring that every visually striking element also serves a practical purpose. Whether it is through innovative materials, versatile silhouettes, or clever design features, I strive to integrate functionality seamlessly into visually captivating aesthetic.

What is a no-no for you when it comes to fashion?

A no-no for me in fashion is allowing the fear of societal judgment to hinder my experimentation with personal style.

What’s next for you?

I’m dedicated to blend fashion and art within my brand, UglyPretty.  I aim to express my artistic vision through my experiments with art installations that can authentically represent my brand, extending beyond just clothing.

Huntilanak (@huntilanak)

Getting featured on the platforms the likes of Highsnobiety, Melbourne-based The Vanilla Issue and @fashionweek on Instagram proves that Huntilanak founded by Ryan has what is takes to be an “it” brand. Growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Ryan has been commanding attention with his peculiarly arresting and monster-like inventions that draw inspiration from a wellspring of Southeast Asian culture — replete with hallmarks of protruding horns, doe eyes and jagged teeth, resembling tyrant Ivan Ooze.

How did you embark on the journey of design?

I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, so I have been surrounded by cityscapes my entire life. I initially wanted to take A-levels after college because that was the typical route but my mom told me that I should look into a design course instead because it seemed like I would enjoy it more. Initially, I only joined the fashion course at Esmod because it looked interesting to me. But my passion for fashion slowly developed only when I was going through college. I would say that I would have been happy in any creative field.

What is the inspiration behind the piece you are showing us today?

Funny story, I actually named this piece “Rex” after my intern, now friend, because it kind of looks like him — to me at least. [laughs] It was inspired by an amalgamation of different Southeast Asian culture. Most of the time I’m staring at many masks, pulling parts from each of them and piecing them together.

Do you think functionality is important to you?

I actually don’t think about the functionality. The Monster jacket has absolutely no other functions other than decorative purposes.

What is the one material you cannot live without when you create a design?

Oh, definitely the hand-sewing needle! Most of the pieces of the Monster are hand-sewn together. It is quite impossible to do it over the machine.

Do you have anything in the pipeline?

I’m not entirely too sure. I’m trying to take it one day at a time. Currently, I would say I’m saving up capital to launch more wearable Monster-inspired pieces. On Instagram, I’m seen as more of an artist page than a fashion brand so I’m trying to pivot in that direction.

Potionz (@_potionz)

It’s hard to take our eyes off the subversive creations by Potionz. As if it were created for Korean horror show Parasyte: The Grey, IZ, the designer behind Potionz, churns out designs that defy classic fashion standards. His works are often demonic, decorated with irregular shapes and moody colours. His notable pieces include The Moon Sword, Alien Baby and Alien Glasses.

Describe your designs in one word.


What were you thinking when you designed the piece?

Well, “UMAs”, or also known as “Unidentified Mysterious Animals” because I take an interest in the unusual and the outer-worldly. I’m trying to incorporate them into my own design or element and make it multifunctional.


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A post shared by Potionz (@_potionz)

How do you ensure that the visual impact of your designs aligns with functionality?

By looking at the mundane, and how I could “infect” them, almost like a zombie, in my head. I tear the basics apart and see what I could alter them but still retain their functionality.

If you were given a chance to create an exclusive piece for your favourite celebrity, what would that be?

It would be a fashion-styling piece for a sci-fi movie, like a jet gun or microscopic glasses. For the celebrities, I’m eyeing idols like Doja Cat and Hunter Schafer, especially in their current era.

What’s next for you?

My friends and I will be having an exhibition called “We’re All Infected, But By What?” at Mori Kohi in Kuala Lumpur from 17 May to 19 May this year. It will be open to the public on 18 May and 19 May.

Photography Chintoo

Styling Liew Hui Ying

Photography Assistant Aizuddin Afiq

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