By Evelyn Chiu
The celebrated Malaysian fashion designer, Zang Toi, known for his sophisticated and detailed design, began his career at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City as a way to pursue the timeless beauty that he always dreams about. Having no previous experience in fabricating clothes, Zang Toi still remembers how, in his first class at Parsons, he was the only one who raised his hand when the teacher asked who didn’t know how to sew. From that moment, Zang Toi realized that only by working harder than everyone else could he accomplish his goal to step into the fashion world.
Zang Toi can now be found in his workshop located on 57th Street in midtown Manhattan, surrounded by his newest 2012 Spring Collection presented at 2011 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. This tells you that Zang Toi has achieved his goal to become a world-famous fashion designer.
Asked about how he built his business enterprise, Zang Toi said it was all about luck and hard work. Before the world knew about Zang Toi, he was already featured in Vogue’s article The Next Wave of Fashion Designers by Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour, one of the most powerful women in the fashion world. Because of this article, Zang Toi was placed on the map of the fashion industry and it also opened the door for other emerging Asian fashion designers.
Zang Toi says of his 2012 Spring Collection, “the Collection was inspired by my dream of North Africa and my memory while traveling in the region eleven years ago. I started drafting the collection on Memorial Day weekend 2011.” Not only relying on his experience and memory of North Africa, Zang Toi also studied North Africa from every perspective, including the political situation of the region, in order to show the beauty that reflects this conflicted region.
The collection’s palette focuses on blue, black, white, and brown, which represents the natural beauty of North Africa. Zang Toi interpreted this natural beauty palette through his fashion insight by transforming the pure colors with beading, printing, details, and other sophisticated techniques. This transformation came alive with the blue coat with detailed beading worn by the actress Kirstie Alley during the fashion show and made a huge splash in the media world. “Having my ladies happy makes me proud that after the show we received two orders for the coat worn by Kirstie Alley and another two orders for the coat with the print by the artist Bill Gauthier.”
In addition to his fashion business in the United States, Zang Toi’s fashion influence also spreads to Malaysia, and other Asian countries. The Zang Toi Café in Malaysia is a place to dine, to shop and to get inspired, and his exclusive shoe line in Asia will soon be introduced to the American market. Zang Toi sees himself as an outsider in the fashion world as he doesn’t party, hardly drinks, and is always true to himself. He applies his intelligence properly and is not afraid of trying, and he encourages emerging designers to implement these disciplines along with their own product or a key element of their design to develop their career in the fashion world.
Zang Toi is a person who loves travel, enjoys a spa treatment from head to toe, and likes to dine at Daniel Boulud’s, Le Bernardin, Masa, Kurumazushi, and Il Mulino in New York City. Sometimes Zang Toi will even fly to Paris for just one night to savor the food at his favorite restaurant, Le Grand Vefour. Hoping someday to design clothes for Hillary Clinton, Zang Toi is a person who dedicates himself to his career and does not see it as merely a job. It is apparent that he enjoys every moment of being in the fashion industry, evident from the passion and love of fashion revealed in his eyes. Zang Toi is a role model for everyone – not just for fashion designers – to learn to embrace your intelligence and apply it properly with hard work.