Stitching up a storm in local fashion scene

Izah Azahari

Choosing a career path after graduating from university is always a major decision in life an individual has to take especially with the difficulties in finding employment.

However, for Hazwan Suhaini, taking up the challenge and entering into the path of an entrepreneur was based on his resolve to support His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s titah urging youths to become entrepreneurs.

With that, Hazwan became the Founder and Creator of Gentlemen Stitch – the first Bruneian-Malay brand that caters to off-the-rack and made-to-measure gentlemen’s wear – pursuing his interest in fashion that developed during his university years.

He was also inspired by his friend Nazy of KAVA Streetwear and the valuable experience he received during his participation at the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2018.

“After graduating from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), I took up the Fashion Design Technology course at the Youth Development Centre to learn more skills,” said Hazwan. “I think men’s fashion is as important as women’s fashion because it can create a story, build confidence, on top of showing who you are, what your personal brand is and develop yourself to be better.”

Being both the designer and personal tailor of his brand, Hazwan said that his interest in men’s fashion was ultimately sparked through the inspiration he had from looking at a lot of male designers from neighbouring countries doing men’s fashion, especially in gentlemen’s wear, such as Bon Zainal and FR to name a few.

Challenging himself as a new year’s resolution earlier this year, he set out to create one design each day, with the goal of maximising the designs.

On the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2018, Hazwan said that it was an amazing experience because there isn’t anything like it in Brunei, and it helped him see what the real fashion world is like. “The crowds, the models, the designs, the designers, and everything else made me gain more ideas for more innovative designs, all thanks to my friend Nazy,” said Hazwan. “I’m planning to polish my skills further by following courses outside the country to achieve my goal as a bespoke tailor.”

Hazwan believes that people should be brave in taking up more skills, and not think about what other people say about your dreams.

“It is time to make changes, because the world is big, opportunities are everywhere, and if there’s a will, there’s a way for it. Failing once doesn’t mean you’ll fail forever because that is just part of the lesson you need to learn to be successful,” said the fashion designer.

Hazwan hopes to reach international markets, as well as to inspire other fashion aficionados to get into the business and to develop the local industry further with his brand.

The brand was officially launched with the Permanent Secretary (Administration, Finance and Estate) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud in attendance as the guest of honour at Mavens Hive, Bandar Seri Begawan recently.

ABOVE & BELOW: Founder and Creator of Gentlemen Stitch Hazwan Suhaini; and some of Gentlemen Stitch’s designs on display. PHOTOS: GENTLEMENT STITCH