Ever so often, we hear of the saying that it's never too late to start something new and embark on an unfamiliar territory in pursuant of a newly-discovered passion. This has always ringed true for Cassey Gan — Malaysian fashion designer whose love for colours and prints are juxtaposed with her talent in apparel designing. Four years ago; at the age of thirty, she started her self-named label after having studied chemical engineering and working in the publishing industry for some time. This is Cassey Gan's story and you're about to discover yet another aspiring personality in this month's installation of #ytwalkoflife.
The label Cassey Gan is a name synonymous with vibrant asymmetrical designs with a twist of quirky silhouettes mixed with prints and complementary fabrics infused together. One only needs to look at their web page to understand the complexity (and yet simplicity) of the label's aesthetics that are visually translated in harmony. Every detailing is designed by Cassey Gan to weave together a whole masterpiece — from the graphics of the fabrics to the selection of materials, each collection has a touch of originality. Comfort and style are of equal importance to the label which promises to create garments that are timeless and yet modern.
Cassey is wearing Marina sandal in black, coming soon.
"Upon graduation, I was very clear that engineering was not a field I was at all interested in. I then started to work for a fashion magazine and from my editorial experiences, I found myself intrigued by clothes and got really curious about design and the making of it."
Seremban-born Cassey Gan is a daughter of an artistic homemaker who paints in her free time and a sharp businessman who taught her everything she needed to know about running a company. How did it all start for Cassey? "Upon graduation, I was very clear that engineering was not a field I was at all interested in. I then started to work for a fashion magazine and from my editorial experiences, I found myself intrigued by clothes and got really curious about design and the making of it." It was after this realization that Cassey decided to pursue a degree in fashion design at London College of Fashion. Packed with her newfound knowledge and skill sets, Cassey started her own label in 2013. Her first collection was made and sold at a trade show event in Singapore, whilst sharing a booth with a friend. The response for her debut collection pieces was positively encouraging to her surprise and that fueled more confidence for her label. "After a year of selling in Singapore, I decided to launch my collection in Malaysia through KLFW 2014 (Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week). When I started, I really didn’t start with a large sum of money. I had enough to make a collection of 10 dresses, which was what I showed at the Singapore trade show. From then, I started taking orders and taking baby steps to grow the brand organically," explains Cassey. She was working from home in a living hall area fit for two sewing machines and one large work table. Although, it wasn't long till she had to look for space outside of her home to expand production activities as she tells us, " I was working from home for about two years before I decided to move out to a studio as my stocks and fabrics started to overwhelm my space at home. I also moved out so that I can start hiring a team."
Her family and husband (whom she got married to two years ago) have been instrumental in keeping her business afloat with their never ending support. In fact, Cassey even admitted that she knew nothing about operating a business but with the help of her father, she has been able to make cautious decisions. "I learned along the way and I still do. My dad is a brilliant business man and gave me some good advice when I started. My mum also played a crucial role in helping me look out for seamstresses and good production house that could help me realize my designs." She also adds, "My parents and my husband are relentless when it comes to being supportive. Whenever I need help in literally anything, they would lend a helping hand. For example, if I need to set up a booth at a trade show in Shanghai, my mum and husband would go with me to help out." Cassey is obviously blessed with a great support system surrounding her. It's no wonder she seems grounded and stays humbled the whole time our team was with her.
Cassey is wearing Marina sandal in blue, coming soon.
"I always thought being a monochrome designer is the coolest!.."
We decided to shoot Cassey in her own studio space where the magic actually happens. The interior decor really reflects on Cassey's design soul and interestingly enough, it was designed by her husband who is an interior designer. Cassey tells us, "It’s a really old shop-lot that has been refurbished by my husband. The brief was really for it to be as bare and as white as possible. This is because my creations are already full of colours and prints, I didn’t want the studio to clash with my designs!" Although known for her love for bright hues and abstract graphics, Cassey was almost set out to be a monochrome designer. "I always thought being a monochrome designer is the coolest! However, when I started designing, I realized that black and white is not really my style and I personally respond better to colours. My tutor saw that I was having that dilemma and he told me to just be myself and if I’m inherently drawn towards colours, I have to listen to my heart. Hence, I started playing with colours and prints and that has been my style ever since." And we're thankful for that! Being in her work space got us curious about the creative processes that she goes through in her routines. What inspires her collection designs? She explains, "Travelling usually helps me in finding inspiration. When I don’t have the liberty to travel, movies usually would do the job. I then research into the theme or subject matter which inspires me at that point in time. After that, I would start picking out details, silhouettes, colours, prints etc. from the research and start turning them into designs. I don’t draw a lot as I prefer making more than sketching. Making samples is my way of designing."
"My vision for the label is to always have a great made-in-Malaysia brand that is available worldwide.."
With so much going on now with Cassey Gan, what does the future hold for the label? "My vision for the label is to always have a great made-in-Malaysia brand that is available worldwide. This is made possible, especially more so nowadays, with the power of social media and online stores." We're counting on it. In the present, look forward to a unisex T-shirt collection in collaboration with Cassey's younger brother. "He likes to wear tees with prints and he likes my prints. He suggested that we start a unisex T-shirt line together - whereby I create the products and he will do the selling and marketing. After about a year of pondering on this idea, we finally launched it this early July." Check out the tees this week, at Sunny Side Up Market.
Cassey is wearing the Emma Two Way Mules
Perhaps one of the best takeaways from the time spent with Cassey is having a sneak preview of her upcoming collection pieces which will meet their light of day in this year's KLFW in August 2017. For the first time ever, Cassey will showcase monochrome pieces featuring the works of a multidisciplinary artist, Mark Tan. Also, Yoke & Theam is excited to be collaborating with Cassey Gan for their runway show. We can't wait! Let's hear it from Cassey herself on the collaboration and how she feels about wearing our shoes. Plus, we're giving you a sneak preview of our Marina shoes which will launch soon.
Tell us about the KLFW collection and collaboration with Yoke & Theam.
My collections have always had an element of sportiness to it and I find Yoke & Theam’s shoes to share similar qualities. My brand also emphasizes on comfort yet stylish and to me, Yoke & Theam’s shoes are precisely that. Hence, I see a good match between the two brands.
How do you feel when wearing the shoes from Yoke & Theam from the shoot?
First of all, aesthetically, I think they work really well with my collections. The shoes are also extremely comfortable. I also like that the shoes are not completely flat as I find shoes with slightly thicker soles more comfortable in general.
Do you have a pair of your own?
Yes. The Ace Sandal in Black!
What's your favorite design from Yoke & Theam?
I have a few favourites actually: Ace, Andre, Zeus and of course their latest Marina ones!
Do you think Yoke & Theam shoes complement your collection pieces?
Without a doubt. They are also very versatile for styling. Modern yet timeless.
#ytwalkoflife campaign believes that each woman who wears Yoke & Theam possesses compelling stories that are unique and inspiring. Do you agree with that?
Absolutely. Having a good, comfortable pair of shoes is so important as we experience life with it every single day!
Photography: Jeremy Choy
Styling: Saerah Ridzuan
Wardrobe: Cassey Gan
Yoke & Theam Walk of Life
We celebrate strong and independent women of all age, gender, race and sexuality. #ytwalkoflife is our very own initiative to showcase aspiring personalities to our consumers whom we consider our loyal friends. Our belief is that each individual possesses compelling stories that are unique and inspiring - from fashion darlings to expressive artists, to everyday people - let their life narratives play a part in filling the pages in your book of journey. Take a glance at what it's like to be in their shoes as we feature one personality each month.
Yoke & Theam aims to inspire women to become better versions of themselves. You too can be a part of our movement by sharing your Yoke & Theam OOTD with #ytwalkoflife on Instagram. Tell us what empowers you as a woman and who knows, your story could be told here.
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