Nana: Fashion has infinite possibilities, and new power is born from it. As a carrier of culture and times, fashion encompasses everything. From trendy to traditional culture, from celebrities, idols to everyone’s daily life, and from West to East, it is our discourse, our power, our time. Through Asian Voice, we hope to spread the local Asian fashion culture to the world by moving cross languages and borders.
In this issue of ASIAN VOICE, we welcome NERDUNIT and WATER THE PLANT from Malaysia. NERDUNIT as a renowned Malaysia streetwear brand, originated when Ronald chew was still a student of University of Sunderland in UK and Golden Gate University in US as a passionate project. With its distinct and multicultural designs and concepts, NERDUNIT has made a remarkable impact on the international stage and continues to flourish. It served as a blank canvas for Ronald to express his imaginative ideas and boundless creativity. Over time, the vision of establishing a brand that is both practical for everyday wear and distinctive took shape, leading to the birth of WATER THE PLANT. This brand, too, became a vessel for his creativity, radiating a positive vibe of joy and happiness through its vibrant color choices and cheerful smiley icon.As for challenges and difficulties which are an inherent part of the streetwear business, he firmly believes that it is through overcoming these obstacles that progress is achieved. Perhaps it is this conviction that has fueled his courage to venture beyond his comfort zone, constantly innovating and transforming his creative ideas into tangible realities.
Nana: What inspired you to launch NERDUNIT after graduating from the University of Sunderland?Ronald Chew: This is my passion project. There’s a desire to create a brand that represents our own Malaysia culture. The concept first sparked during my time studying abroad when we realized the need to create something that was absent in the market but aligned with our genuine expressions. We started up as a hobby during the student time and when I go back to Malaysia, I decided to make it as my career.
Nana: Why did you decided to create the new brand WATER THE PLANT, even though that NERDUNIT is already very well established?Ronald Chew: I guess it’s come along with my age. One of the fundamental principles behind NERDUNIT was to establish a streetwear fashion brand that combines uniqueness with accessibility. Initially, I poured my creativity into it, treating it as a canvas where I could manifest various innovative ideas.But since I’m getting older, I’ve recognized the importance of creating everyday attire that is easy to wear while still incorporating distinctive and well-defined cuts. But still, we aim to preserve the notion of our brand as a canvas for self-expression. COVID-19 prompted us to do something that is out of the box. Thus, the concept of a second brand, distinct in its DNA, took shape. As a brand or as a creator, we should spread positive energy or positive creativity to our audiences. When people encounter our brand, we want them to feel joy and positivity. Our brand palette consists of vibrant and peaceful colors, bringing a funky and uplifting vibe to the forefront.
Nana: As an Asian designer, which Asian culture do you find most fascinating and would like to introduce to the world?Ronald Chew: The culture of Japan has always captivated me, and I have been influenced by Japanese brands and designers since my younger days. And In the present, Thailand has emerged as a hub for creative designers that demands our attention.
Nana: NERDUNIT has previously collaborated with popular brands like NEW EAR and BE@RBRICK #FR2. Could you share a memorable collaboration experience or discuss any upcoming collaboration plans?Ronald Chew: It is our ongoing partnership with FR2, which marks our fourth collaboration together. We were introduced by a friend and decide to do a collaboration together during a casual dinner conversation. The idea came very organically, driven not only by business interests but also by the value we place on our friendship. We have one exciting upcoming collaboration with a beverage brand, which is the first time for us. We are making preparations for a pop-up store in Malaysia and possibly extend its reach to Hong Kong, connecting with a wider audience.
Nana: The jackets and T-shirts in this season’s collection, featuring 3M’s reflective materials, have received great acclaim. Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind?Ronald Chew: Sometimes, the idea just come into my head out of no where. We wanted to create item that is stylish and also functional at the same time, which stands out. The item that people want to look at it twice, or someone will turn around to take a picture.
Nana: Have you encountered any challenges or obstacles in your business journey? If so, how did you overcome them?Ronald Chew: For any business, we face a lot of struggles and challenges. And I believe that it is through these struggles that we learn and develop. It becomes crucial to rely on our passion, determination, and resilience, and to pursue our goals without giving up. One of my favorite phrases perfectly explain this idea: If you feel like you are facing hardships and difficulties in your life, it signifies that you are making progress and moving forward in your career. Because walking uphill is tiring.
Nana: How would you think about your passion? It seems that you are not only focused on building brands but also on cultivating and promoting culture in Malaysia. This includes organizing events and managing a company dedicated to creating cultural experiences.Ronald Chew: It starts with creating brands, but I feel that I enjoy putting things together. I didn’t really involved in the day to day operation. I’m more like the resources and a plug for everyone.
Nana: How do you present Malaysia culture and work with other Malaysia brands in the community?Ronald Chew: I am actively seeking to open more doors for Malaysia, both for designers and brands. We were fortunate enough to have a presence overseas and collaborate with various international entities and participate in events alongside diverse individuals from around the world. My intention is to set an example and provide a reference point for others, making it easier for them to navigate the global market.
Nana: Do you have any advice for our readers who are seeking to find a way to start their own brand in the fashion, especially streetwear industry just like you?Ronald Chew: Stay true to your vision and never give up. Because it requires hard work, dedication and a willingness to take calculated risks. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, so it becomes crucial to invest your time and effort wholeheartedly to create something that is truly unique and special. Most importantly, you need to believe in your abilities.
If you are facing hardships and difficulties, it signifies that you are making progress and moving forward.