Anyone who’s met the Rizman Ruzaini duo in person would immediately notice the contrasting personalities.
The first half of the duo, Rizman Nordin, is always ready to strike a pose for the camera, all the while beaming brightly. The second half, Ruzaini Jamil, appears more reserved with his shy demeanour and soft smile. Put the two together, however, and magic unfolds.
“We have a very good synergy while working” is their comment on their different yet similar approach to life and work. “The Yin and Yang are balanced between the two us and we complement each other. Of course, there have been quarrels and fights but nothing major. Because in the end, we have the same goal – to better accommodate our customers with the greatest experience in wearing Rizman Ruzaini.”
Their journey – from friends to designers to business partners – begun in their teenage years, having met at UiTM Sri Iskandar Perak while doing their Fashion diploma fresh out of SPM (the Malaysian Certificate of Education). Hitting it off from the start, they soon formed a lasting friendship, helping each other out through tough times.
“It was also while in university that we decided to create a label together – as during that time the concept of duo designers was not very popular in Malaysia – and the rest, as they say, is history,” states the pair who, at the time, was inspired by Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who founded the Italian luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana in 1985.
“Good taste in fashion…” the duo ponders when asked what the phrase means to them as designers. “We think individuality in fashion is very appealing. Everyone has a personal preference and being fashion designers, we meet people and customers with a good sense of self. They know what they want and how they want to portray themselves to the world, it’s our job as fashion designers to take all that input and spin it in a Rizman Ruzaini way.”
As for the pair themselves, Rizman shares his take on his partner’s fashion sense. “He likes to push the boundaries in style, going for utilitarian, vintage sharp tailoring suits, pinstripes and houndstooth suave pieces. Jumpsuits, harness and combat boots are in his wardrobes,” he relates, adding that he’d love to see Ruzaini try more subtle colours and pieces. Ruzaini, meanwhile, says that he’d want to see Rizman in more athleisure pieces. “Classic is more his style,” he explains. “Basic cutting with clean lines and sharp silhouette with a touch of modern masculine glam.”
“We have big dreams,” they admit. “As designers and as a brand, we are aiming for international recognition; to dress A-list celebs and break the barrier. Social media has, in a way, assisted us in this. Our approach to business is to be a template for future fashion designers or fashion businessmen. We hope to be the guide and reference for them, so that someday these younger designers can build names and empires bigger than Rizman Ruzaini.”
The eponymous founders have undoubtedly come a long way since they started their business in 2005. Now 39, they have more than just their fashion brand to be proud of. Ruzaini was the first to tie the knot, doing so in 2016 to Nurul Hidayati Yahya, while Rizman said his vows to Nurida Suraya in 2019.
Naming their wives as their muses, the duo expresses gratitude that not only do Hidayati and Nurida get along well with each other, but they’ve also been highly supportive of their husbands’ ventures. In 2020, each of the happy couples welcomed their first child – daughter Rizqaa for Rizman and son Rahil for Ruzaini. The happy families can often be seen on their respective social media platforms modelling the clothes designed by the proud husbands and fathers.
Of course, when not playing dress-ups with their families, the designers are busy dressing up celebrities and the likes. From Ziana Zain to Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Erra Fazira, Marion Caunter, Kris Dayanti, and Chakra Khan, their clientele – whom they refer to with the apt moniker “Fashion Royalties” – comprises the biggest names in the fashion and entertainment industries.
From being staples of the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW), dressing the who’s who of society, to initiating KL’s first ever fashion march in Bukit Bintang just last September, Rizman Ruzaini continues to aim for more. “Our vision and mission for the brand is as high as can be. We are breaking into the Mid-Eastern market soon with our Rizman Ruzaini Couture pieces.
“Also, we have been in talks with retailers in Mexico and France to possibly have our pieces there. Every brand and label aim to be recognised globally and worn by A-list celebrities, and that’s the same for us. Fashion is a multibillion-dollar business and it’s all over the globe, we are turning our focus to the aforementioned countries – and Bollywood, too – instead of just aiming for Europe and America. Plus, having seen what Dato’ Michelle Yeoh has done for herself, her career and her nationality, this has also inspired us to work harder and aim higher.”
This August marking the 18th anniversary for Rizman Ruzaini, the founding duo is indubitably grateful but remains humble, admitting that they still have plenty to learn, explore and experience. “From being fashion designers to fashion businessmen, we wanted to challenge ourselves and build an empire. We do sometimes pinch ourselves to see how we got here. Alhamdullilah we are blessed, and we do work hard day and night to be here.”
(Main image: Full look: Ralph Lauren Purple Label; tie on Ruzaini (R): Stylist’s own; watch: Personality’s own; shoes: Personality’s own)
(On the cover (image below): Full look: Dior; turtlenecks: Personality’s own)
This cover story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia’s April 2023 issue. To read the full story, pick up a copy in store or subscribe on Magzter.