Ezzati Amira was always interested in the arts; from drawing, to cheerleading. Hence, she ventured to the Raffles Design Institute to pursue her tertiary education. “I’ve always been into fashion, it was something that I’ve always wanted to do when I was young.” Says Amira, reminiscing about her childhood memories.
Her grandparents, she says, were a huge influence in her life. “My grandmother used to do a lot of sewing. Back in the day, most women knew how to sew. My grandfather was also very into fabric and textiles. So it comes from both sides.”
Ezzati’s parents too were also very supportive of her ever since she was a child. “My parents noticed that it was something that I was passionate about, so they sent me to classes.” says Ezzati. “I was involved in drawing competitions when I was in primary school. I was a cheerleader for five years when I was in high school. I realised I’m very into art.” But as it turns out, the arts was not the only thing that she excelled in it. “Just so you know, I was offered a scholarship for Accounting. [laughs] It was a hard decision, since I also loved Mathematics and Accounts,” adds Amira.
Though there were uncertainties, she decided to follow her gut instinct but as it turns out it was the right thing to do. Ezzati eventually went to start her own eponymous label, Ezzati Amira. Founded in 2013, the label featured a range of essential garments that speaks to the modern woman who is bold and fearless. From contemporary casual basics to elegant dresses, every season strived to expand female expression in new and exciting ways.
Ezzati explained that the direction of the label was something that she developed after getting into the industry. “Back in college, I was experimenting with a lot of stuff,” she said. “My assignments were more avant-garde, so to speak. They were a lot more gothic, maybe it was also because of the fashion trends then.” After her graduation, Amira ventured into clothing design almost immediately.
“After Raffles, I was with Le Ann Maxima, where I had to design 180 to 200 pieces per season,” the fashion designer described, as if they were rookie numbers. It was then that Ezzati discovered fashion design isn’t just about passion but about having a sustainable business model.
“Because if I was still doing experimental, avant-garde pieces – it’s very nice – but people would only be amazed by them on the runway. At the end on the day, it might end up in some exhibition or something like that,” Ezzati states matter-of-factly. “Seeing people wearing Ezzati Amira on the streets is more satisfying than just working on a piece that I really love but fails to connect with people.” The prospect of starting a business also turned out to a lot less scary once she ventured into it.
“I was actually very scared to start the brand. I was still working as a sales assistant at this shop in Publika.” After a stint as a sales assistant, Amira went job hunting. “Back in 2013, there weren’t a lot of ready to wear brands in Malaysia. The bridal market was huge, so I applied to a lot of bridal designers.” Despite the bridal scene having a huge presence in Malaysia, Ezzati realised that it was a very different process than what she was used to.
“Because for bridal, you have to talk and deal with the clients. There’s a whole other process behind it. Whereas, I’m used to designing a number of designs, a collection.” She adds, “my friend even told me that bridal is basically the bread and butter of the Malaysia apparel industry.”
While there was understandably a certain amount of doubt, Ezzati decided that starting her own label was ultimately what was best for her. “I prefer to have a design that gives me more freedom and control. I love being adventurous. I love to create,” she explains. “Eventually, my dad encouraged me to start my own line.”
When asked if there any trends that she didn’t like in fashion, Ezzati stressed that there are no rules when it comes to the fashion world. “Because fashion is very subjective. Even when you see something that’s unappealing, you could turn it into fashion”. It is important to her that people recognise the value of a piece of clothing. “Whatever you think that doesn’t work, you can still make it fashion. I believe there are no rules when it comes to it.”