WHEN Jamree Mohd Jawaini started putting out designs for t-shirts in his early secondary school days, little did he know that it was an interest that he would carry with him into his older years.
After a long time of toying with the thought of starting his own menswear business, the 40-year-old architect finally did something about it last year upon completing his Master of Business Administration.
“I don’t know if this is a mid-life crisis,” he laughs. “But it’s never too late to start and I think this is a good time. It’s an experiment but, who knows, it could trigger something else that could be a sustainable business. I’ve been interested in anything to do with design.”
He also cites other reasons for his fashion comeback: materials are more widely available today and there are more design options to play around with.
The Founder of Gajoh & Co menswear started design work for his collection last year and launched the brand early this year. He describes his pieces as traditional wear with little twists; Baju Melayus that are designed for casual wear and crisp shirts and t-shirts with a dash of batik.
Instead of merely following trends and market demand, he sells “what I like to wear”. This, he knows, is not necessarily the wisest move.
However, he believes he is playing to his strength and that consumers will slowly catch on to his offerings.
His products are currently sold through social media but he decided to try having a physical presence through the Pasar Seloka Raya at Publika Shopping Gallery.
“I think for a new brand, people still want to see your product. Hopefully, people will get to know my products from my booth and start looking for them online,” says the new entrepreneur.
Response has been positive so far, enough to motivate him to keep the business going. If interest in his products grow, he fancies working with vendors to push his clothes into retail stores.
“That’s my next step,” he says.
But Jamree is aware that the fashion industry is competitive and fickle. Trends come and go and a new brand like his has yet to have any kind of hold in the industry.
Additionally, he notes that batik can be brought in for cheap from Indonesia. He uses Terengganu batik, which, according to him, is not priced as competitively and options are also slightly limited.
“And people prefer to wear mainstream brands today. There is a wide variety of clothing options available for people nowadays and they are so easily available. So that is also a challenge,” he adds.
Jamree hopes his little venture will lead to bigger things. His ultimate dream is to open a boutique someday that will offer a “build your own shirt” service, where there would be a catalogue of different parts of a shirt which allows customers to mix and match different elements to customise their own shirts.
“That will require a physical store, and a lot of capital. But That’s my dream. I really hope I can still do that,” he says. – Joy Lee