Every once in a while, we would catch ourselves pondering upon life’s most important questions such as “What is the meaning of life?”, “What is the point of all this?”, or “Why am I here?”. These questions strike us in the most literal sense sometimes – like when we end up at a watering hole in the heart of Kuala Lumpur on a Wednesday night. At other times, the question creeps upon us in a more encompassing and abstract sense, like how the number 42 is “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything,” as Douglas Adams wrote jokingly in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


For Chris Yap, alongside his co-founders and friends Nicholas Chan and Ho Ming Han, Highborn is his way of figuring out life’s purpose and worth. Founded in 2016, the young wearable lifestyle brand aspires to build and cultivate a culture of growth and purpose among the community, highlighting the realisation of every individual’s true identity, which would enable each person to carry on through life with a higher purpose. Chris and his Highborn counterparts look to inspire positivism and spread hope to the masses; as they connect with like-minded individuals out there, they aim to build a place that allows everyone to grow with a purpose together.


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You are who you are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. – www.thehighborn.co #WeAreHighborn #MadeForMore

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What is the philosophy behind Highborn?

The word “highborn” is, essentially, an identity of royalty, or an identity that carries honour and worth. We believe that our identity – royalty or commonplace – determines how we see and carry ourselves in this world. For the longest time, humans as individuals, struggled to find meaning in our existence because we don’t really know who we are. We’d look to other people for approval, as well as social media platforms, allowing the number of likes and followers to justify who we really are. Yes, it sounds very clichéd, but at the same time, unfortunately, it’s clichéd because it’s true.

“At the end of the day, human beings are just like plants; it’s either you grow or you die – there’s no midway point.”
Chris Yap, Highborn Co-Founder

We strongly believe that there are specific reasons for our very existence, either collectively or individually: if you’re still breathing today, it just means that your purpose on earth is not over yet. Author Craig Groeschel wrote in his book, Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are, “When we know who we are, we will know what to do.” With Highborn, we are reminding ourselves and anyone out there of the true worth and value of not just ourselves – but of life in general as well.


How does Highborn stand out from other local streetwear brands currently available in the market?

We wouldn’t call ourselves a streetwear brand, per se, but rather a lifestyle brand; Highborn’s collections are very ready-to-wear to begin with. Compared to the loud designs many streetwear brands are known for, we prefer to focus on the details, the silhouettes, the fitting of the pieces, the materials… anything that will make the message we would like to spread come out crystal clear without any distractions – clean and minimal designs with a great message behind them.


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We’re alive. “WHAT IS HIGHBORN?” New collection available on our webstore now. www.thehighborn.co

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What is it about Highborn that would persevere amidst the other local streetwear brands, each with its own story behind the brand?

Nowadays, trends come and go so fast that it is a big struggle for many businesses that are riding on trends to thrive. At one point in time, they could be doing so well; but once the trend dies down, the company and the business die with it. Right here, what we’re building is not a trend, but a message, an identity, a cultural growth, a purpose instead. Those are the things that are timeless. We believe as long as there are humans roaming the face of the earth, these are the things that we will need to look into to grow as a person. At the end of the day, human beings are just like plants; it’s either you grow or you die – there’s no midway point.


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No matter the outcome. We’ll always be #MalaysianAtHeart. 🇲🇾❤️

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What’s the story behind the recent “Malaysian At Heart” collection?

It all started some three years ago, when I was away from Malaysia and feeling homesick as Malaysia Day approached. The feeling of missing home, as we move into an era where more of us have the ability to pursue a life away from our hometowns – that was what inspired me to put together the “Malaysian At Heart” collection.

Following the initial release in 2016, we brought back the “Malaysian At Heart” collection under a new diffusion line – Highborn Lab – with an expanded range of items, such as new colourways for the signature Malaysian At Heart tee, a reflective sweatshirt and a canvas tote bag. All items are imprinted with the following artwork: the anatomy of the heart with the national flower, symbolising the heart of Malaysians all around the globe.

We may be slightly late to board the “New Malaysia” bandwagon, but with this new era in Malaysia, it only made sense that this line is given a new lease on life, providing our fellow Malaysians with a new sense of hope and purpose through something wearable.

This feature first appeared in the May 2019 print issue of Augustman Malaysia.

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