In collaboration with Prestige, Johnnie Walker Blue Label explores the deep and creative souls committed to overcoming adversity to refine their art forms.
Just as Johnnie Walker Blue Label combines Scotland’s rarest and most exceptional whiskies to create an unrivalled masterpiece, these creators draw from significant experiences to shape their work.
Fashion Designer & Founder of Kit Woo Enterprise
A young man from a small town making waves in Malaysia’s burgeoning fashion industry, Kit Woo is an enterprising fashion designer and the founder of his eponymous label, Kit Woo. A top graduate in apparel design and merchandising at First Media School, Singapore, Kit’s mysterious, enigmatic and original point of view was always apparent. The Kuantan-born designer ventured to America, where he attended Pratt Institute and majored in Fashion Design.
When Kit initially shared his ambitions with his parents, his father had reservations about his career choice, concerned it would not be lucrative. Meanwhile, his mother was a steady source of encouragement. Although Kit’s had limited exposure to fashion in his youth, he knew design was his calling. “My father’s views also began to change as he started to see my work appear in the news,” Kit mentions warmly. The devoted son remains grateful to his parents for sending him abroad and not forbidding him from creative pursuits.
As a fresh graduate, Kit jumped at the chance to volunteer as a backstage dresser for Zang Toi at New York Fashion Week, always proactive about chasing opportunities and entering various design competitions. “Back then, the biggest celebrity I dressed was Mikky Ekko. My clothes went to Los Angeles, and it was exciting,” Kit says proudly, referring to the recording artist featured on Rihanna’s 2013 single ‘Stay’.
But the young designer’s journey had just begun, and success did not come overnight. Despite gaining experience through internships and working experience with Public School New York and Melitta Baumeister, Kit could not secure a working visa to remain in NYC. “The competition is quite immense there. Securing a job was especially difficult as a foreigner in the flood of new graduates. Employers were reluctant to hire an outsider and pay extra fees for lawyers to settle working visas when they could easily find a local,” Kit elaborates.
Disappointed about leaving the fashionable city and concerned about the path ahead, Kit returned to Malaysia in 2016, jumping into the deep end. “I took any opportunity I could get here, gaining experience at KL Fashion Week and working briefly with Joe Chia before I launched my brand fully,” Kit says. Although it was not a part of his plan, he felt starting his brand was the right next step to keep his drive to work in the industry.
“In the early days, the label’s challenges were financial. There was money invested into the company, but I was trying to find a way to sustain the business and also pay myself,” Kit explains. Over the last three years, Kit’s business has grown and begun to thrive, and the designer has developed an appreciation for Malaysia’s central location. “Malaysia has a lot to offer. We have access to Vietnamese and Thai production and fabrics from Pakistan and China. If your base is in the US, in-house production is quite expensive,” Kit reasons.
Working from a studio space at home, Kit is preparing for KL Fashion Week in August with plans to move to a location with more working space with COVID-19 lockdowns in the rearview mirror. Although Kit enjoyed a moment of pause during the first Movement Control Order without deadlines and fashion weeks to attend, the young creative now explores new avenues at a dizzying pace. “I started teaching during the MCO and work part-time with The One Academy teaching design and construction. I am also the creative lead for a newly launched local innerwear brand, Arumn,” Kit says.
“As for my brand, we have slowed down and accepted a transitional phase. We want to sign with potential investors, so numbers are important. We need to design clothes that are wearable and commercial. It means I have to edit my collection and balance these aspects,” Kit affirms. Frequently inspired by contemporary artists and sculptures, Kit’s aesthetic reflects a cool edge with exaggerated proportions, oversize cutting and clever construction. Although Kit admits he still has a lot to learn as an entrepreneur, the young designer has an optimistic outlook and has mastered the art of finding a silver lining to every dark cloud.
Photography & Videography: Micky Wong @ New Storyboards Photography
Assistants: CJ and Theng Wei
Hair & Makeup: May Lim
This story Johnnie Walker Blue Label story was first published in Prestige Malaysia’s June 2022 issue. To read the latest issue, pick up a copy from the nearest newsstand or subscribe on Magzter.