Afiq Iskandar is the quintessential Malay young adult – creatively-inclined in all the right ways; frontman of an up and coming band, graphic designer, and founder of Tarik Jeans, the Klang Valley’s first denim label – yet seemingly without the relaxed attitude that comes with it.
“Well that’s not necessarily true…” jokes Afiq before guffawing like he was under the influence of an all-natural substance that shan’t be named. Okay, so he is a little laidback like the rest of us but perhaps that is representative of what he hopes to convey through Tarik.
“Tarik is more than just a denim label to me, there’s a philosophy to it. We want something that is immediately identifiable by all Malaysians – that’s why it’s referential to mamak culture. More than that, I want Tarik to speak to Malaysians in not just its iconography but attitude too.”
Afiq explains that the philosophy behind Tarik is ineffable, “when you look at a group of kids hanging out at the local mamak or whatever, just talking sh!t about music, girls, boys, politics, or whatever without caring about the superficial difference in their skin colour and religion. That’s Tarik to me.”
Waxing hippie-cum-stoner philosophy comes natural with the 25-year old. It would be a mistake to not take him seriously though. Tarik Jeans has serious hype behind it; “we have local indie bands and acts from across genres rocking our stuff, from Altimet to Hujan, we want Tarik to be that brand that musically-inclined kids identify with.”
For a brand that has yet to establish itself, there’s an eagerness to position itself in the pop culture psyche. You can’t blame them though, Malaysia has yet to see a local denim brand or a clothing label in general for that matter that speaks to her citizens.
“That’s really the main objective of Tarik, I hope we can pull it off.”
Tarik, the idea itself, had been incubating in Afiq’s mind since forever. It wasn’t until 2010 that he roped in a group of friends with differing backgrounds to help him make the brand a reality.
“I realised that I have a pool of talents in my circle of homies. We have gifted designers, photographers, copywriters, and some of us are a combination of all of those. I even got Jin Hackman to join us.”
It hasn’t been easy for this fledgling brand to establish itself. They have had a couple of obstacles in their path, “we wanted to sell our jeans by early this year, unfortunately our manufacturer screwed the design and sizes of jeans, effectively delaying the release of our products.”
This has put the brand in a somewhat awkward position as their products can be seen worn by certain people who were lucky enough to acquire them. “Some have construed this as elitism on our part – that we are only giving our products to artists – but really we are working hard to get the jeans and jackets immediately available to everyone. Trust us online ordering is on its way.”
With no prior experience in the business, difficulties are expected. Afiq remains unperturbed, “we’re going somewhere, I feel it.”
The mamak silhouette of Tarik Jeans has piqued the interest of people involved in Klang Valley’s pop culture, especially so when it’s seen on the brand’s varsity jacket. “Everyone’s asking about us, we either crumble under the weight or we pull this off spectacularly. I’m confident it will be the latter.”
Tarik is set to be the start of something real, we’d love to see the brand become part of the scene – if it isn’t already.