Akmal of Costura Cloth Inc’s Daring Difference


After giving an elaborate narrative behind the ‘Humble Beginning’ collectionJUICE then took the opportunity to get to know Costura Cloth Inc’s owner, Akmal, better. Once concluding our conversation, it became obvious that his integrity flows in the same vein of wanting to be different in comparison to other independent brands – he aspires to build Costura to be “brave enough” to be different. In this interview, we chatted with the ambitious owner about what sets his brand apart from the others, its core values, humble beginnings, and many more.

Let’s get right to it, what makes this brand stick out in comparison to what’s already available in the market?
To us, we believe design is a type of communication. It’s about the way an object or idea speaks to its audience. Creativity, boldness, and details are the things that we proudly implement in our designs. We like experimenting with fabrics and printings – like embossed printing on simple t-shirts because that makes our iconic Costura logo look bold. In terms of fabric, we would go for the hand-feel of the fabric, using also two-tone or two threads colour fabric. Solid colour fabrics are boring (laughs).

Your bomber jacket is what caught our attention, was that an easy idea to sell seeing as it’s not something Malaysians would usually wear?
Malaysians are always sceptical about local brands producing outerwear, like who would wear them in this hot humid weather of Malaysia? (Laughs) But we want to show that we have the resources to produce good quality bomber jackets, parka, sweatshirts, and even turtlenecks — from what we know, none of the local independent brands have produced a turtleneck.

That is an interesting choice of clothing for this climate. What was the reception like for that?
Surprisingly, it was well received by many! This collection tells a lot about how we do things — this is definitely a bigger step for us, and it will never be the same anymore. Delivering only the best from the finest, we humbly begin our story.

What are Costura Cloth Inc’s core values?
Quality, integrity, design – that’s what Costura stands for. Design has driven the brand from day one, with product at its core, pushing boundaries, striving for perfection. Details are worked inside and out of each garment; pioneering fabrics, subtle twists of colour, and discrete details, every single part of a product from zip to label and button to shell has a reason, no detail is left to chance. Our collection continuously grows but quality is never compromised. It is amplified, design never dwindles, it inspires. The value never suffers, it is always attainable. This forms the brand’s DNA. Coming from an architecture background, it has trained me to design something with a reason [while] at the same time focussing on its aesthetics that would make it presentable to the wearer.

“Malaysians are always sceptical about local brands
producing outerwear, like who would wear them
in this hot humid weather of Malaysia? (Laughs)”

Costura’s pieces look suitable as sportswear as it does street style — was that intentional or is the brand a sportswear brand first?
We’ve never seen it as sportswear (laughs). Probably because we made some products look like sportswear. When we talk about local indie brands, people always see us as a streetwear brand. However, look or style, we think that it’s quite subjective.

How would you define it then?
To us, it really depends on the wearer, in this case our customers, on how they style their look. Not everyone can pull off street style. We believe every customer has their own style and is creative enough to show how they wear Costura.

How long did it take for Costura to begin operations?
It started 2012 after we finished our diploma courses. Like mentioned above, we were printing our own t-shirts before this. Initially, we did projects like printing t-shirts for schools, family days, or small companies. [It] started with families and friends supporting us, then came this idea to build a brand – Costura. So, since then, all the school t-shirts that we printed would have Costura’s label on it. Imagine just a regular school batch t-shirts but with a brand (laughs). Later on in 2013, we joined Tempatan Festival for the first time. It was then when we realised that Costura could do more than just printing school t-shirts. So, all in all, we officially launched the brand in 2013.

Is there a sentimental story behind the name ‘Costura’?
Costura basically means sewing in Spanish. The meaning behind Costura is derived from the method of combining fabrics, which works well with us since we want to give more meaning and appreciation for detailed basics.

In terms of designing, do you base it off what’s favourable in the market?
Basically, the team and I design what we like. Every time we want to come out with a new collection, it is a challenge or a task for me to design something that I think my customers will like.

Not according to trends then?
It’s not really about the trend. It’s about exploring fashion and the details of it. A concept is very crucial when working on a new collection. When the concept is out, my design team will start to design products and search for materials that match the collection. The production team will then produce samples and if everything goes well, we start the mass production.

Have you experienced a moment where you were humbled yourself?
Not for me, but for the brand, really. The ‘Humble Beginning’ idea sparked when I was in the UK last December. I was looking for their local independent brands – those that are already considered prominent names in their scene – I started comparing theirs with mine, then I realised that we were way far behind them. Not just for Costura, but our local independent fashion scene too. So, this is where we want to show that we humbly begin our journey in hopes of inspiring others.

How do you ensure that the clothes you produce aren’t too comparable to other brands? Because that seems to be a reoccurring with labels in Malaysia.
Details – that’s what we are good at. I personally think garments with details – does not matter if it’s big or small – will make the wearer feel some sort of exclusivity while wearing it, like they are a part of something. We would also go for fabrics and the way a garment is printed or stitched.

We look forward to seeing more of what you produce then. Alright, last question, what’s your favourite JUICE?
I am a dream chaser. But first, you have to dare to dream. To me, the word ‘dare’ itself stands for ‘Discipline’, ‘Attitude’, ‘Responsible’, ‘Ethic’. If you have all of these, then nothing is impossible.