Cassey Gan has gone from playing a science graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering to launching her own designer label, but not without some experience under her belt. She’s worked for various fashion houses while in the UK (McQueen being one of them), and has recently graduated from London College of Fashion as a womenswear designer and is ready to take the world by storm, starting right here in Kuala Lumpur!
Tell us your background story.
I was born in Seremban and moved to KL when I was seven. All my life, my focus has been on the Sciences and I graduated with a Chemical Engineering degree. I then decided to pursue my dreams of being a fashion designer and graduated with a degree in Fashion Design at London College of Fashion. It has been the best decision I’ve made as it has changed my life completely and I love every single moment of being a designer. I am now a full time womenswear designer, starting my own label – Cassey Gan.
Was your childhood a particularly creative one?
It wasn’t particularly creative or “artistic” … As far as I can recall, I was a very quiet and obedient child.
How did you take an interest to fashion, and then designing in particular?
After I graduated with my degree in Chemical Engineering, I knew instantly that I could never be a great engineer, as I had no interest in it at all. I then started to intern at Female magazine and found myself loving the fact that I was surrounded by fashion everyday. I realised after awhile that I loved observing the process of how clothes can transform a person inside-out. From there, I was convinced that I needed to start exploring fashion design.
Take us through your journey, from hobby to branded designer.
When I went on to study fashion design at Raffles Design Institute KL, I started learning pattern cutting and fell in love with clothes making. After a year at Raffles, I decided to go to London to jump into the deep end with design. Being in London for the last four years has completely shifted my perspective when it comes to design. To begin with, I have become more aware of my surroundings as we were trained from day one to observe everything around us, and that inspiration is everywhere. I was constantly encouraged to explore new materials, techniques and ideas. Being safe was never an option, and I was constantly being told to push the boundaries. Being in such a rigorous art school like London College of Fashion made me fall in love with fashion design more and more everyday. I knew then and I am even more certain now that there is nothing else I want to do for my career and that I want to be a fashion designer for as long as I live!
What would you say is your general aesthetic?
I am quite a minimalistic designer with a strong focus on details, colours and particularly on prints more recently.
When working, what’s in your bag?
Paper scissors, fabric scissors, rulers of different lengths, lots of pencils and pens in different colours. Measuring tapes, pins, needles and threads, a sketchbook and fabric swatches.
What’s your favourite material?
I don’t usually have a single favourite material because I love mixing materials within a piece of garment. I am fascinated by the process of mixing softer fabrics with harder, stiffer ones for contrast. I also like trying out innovative and unconventional materials.
What are your favourite and least favourite things about being a designer?
My favourite aspect is the designing and experimental process, as I am most imaginative and creatively inspired during that period. I love transforming inspirations and dreams into reality. My least favourite part is encountering people who have the misconception that designing is an easy job and that designers do not ever work hard.
If you were to have a celebrity muse, who would it be, and why?
I don’t think I’d ever have a celebrity muse.
How did you come to conceptualise your current collection?
In the old days, if someone had a secret they didn’t want to share, they would find a tree, carve a hole in it and whisper the secret into the hole. They would then leave the secret there forever. This collection is inspired by the notion of trees as bearers of secrets. Very often in life, we overlook our “everyday pillars” and easily take them for granted. It is actually in these people and objects that life is built upon – stories are revealed and secrets are concealed. Therefore it is good to treasure the understated yet worthy aspects of life.
Describe your collection in three words.
Classy. Modern. Versatile.
Describe the Cassey Gan girl.
Modern, possesses quiet confidence, appreciates understated luxury, prioritises comfort and style, and isn’t afraid to be different.
What inspires your designs?
I’m inspired by the people I meet, the stories I come across, music, movies, and anything that moves my heart.
What is your creative process like, from sketch board to the runway and then the stores?
It always starts from exploring my surroundings, or a short trip to somewhere to get inspired. I usually take a lot of photos along the way and then moving on from analysing the photos, I am able to begin sketching and fabric sourcing. Sampling, experimentation and toiling will follow. Once a design is perfected, it would then be recreated in the final fabric. When the collection is complete, buyers and
stockists will be contacted and orders will be taken. Production of the orders will take place, and finally the beautiful clothes will be made available in stores.
How long does it normally take for you to craft a garment?
For commercial pieces, it usually takes me four weeks to come up with a collection. For shows, it will take me about three months to complete a collection.
What are the tools you cannot live without as a fashion designer?
Pen and paper.
How many pieces do you make per design? Why this amount?
At the moment, about 10 pieces per design. I am not planning to go into the mass market, and am consciously aware that I want to target a niche market.
How would you classify your designs, and are you planning to come up with an accessories section as well?
Ready-to-wear: Womenswear. I would love to do a shoe and accessories line in the future too, and some time further down the road, menswear perhaps!
What is the general price range of your collections?
About RM400 to 600.
Why come back to Malaysia after doing so well in London?
First of all, I have always wanted to start my own label and it is definitely more challenging to start a label in London as material and production cost are a lot higher there Secondly, I have been away from home for about nine years now and I feel that it is time to live closer to family once again. Ultimately, it’s about following my heart.
What does 2013 hold for Cassey Gan?
2013 is a lot about creating brand awareness and introducing my collections to the
world. I would love to be stocked in 10 stores by the end of the year.
For more information on Cassey Gan, visit her website here. Cassey Gan is now available at Glasshouse Yard, though her stockists list is growing as we speak. For buyers interested in her collection, drop an e-mail to [email protected]
Image credit: Cassey Gan