Sehati Sejiwa: Shahrin Bahar, The Right Fit For You

Shahrin Bahar, the founder of menswear tailor and designer S Bahar, has been involved in the apparel industry for around 15 years, with his brand S Bahar operating for around 5 years. S Bahar specializes in bespoke and made to measure menswear which includes suits, shirts, and trousers. 

How did you get into Fashion?

Shahrin: I finally had the guts after SPM to tell my parents of my intentions to pursue fashion and menswear design as a career. I went on to take a small portfolio course and at the end of the final semester, I had an interview for a menswear degree intake and got accepted. This was the first step into my career in menswear.

What is it like being a fashion designer in Malaysia?

Shahrin: For my namesake brand, S Bahar, we do not consider ourselves a fashion brand, however, we do think of ourselves as a made to measure men’s tailor studio. Most of our clothes are bespoken or made to order and we are yet to carry a ready to wear line. Because of this, we do not follow fashion calendars or create drops according to a season.

As someone in the creative scene, do you feel that the rate of the creative scene in Malaysia is growing at a sustainable rate?

Shahrin: Growing, yes but sustainable, we have to observe in the near future. There are segments in the creative scene that are thriving like music and animation but for fashion, let’s just say we are only at the beginning but it is looking promising so far.

What is one common misconception that people have about being a fashion designer in Malaysia that you wish you could change?

Shahrin: That the number of social media followers you have reflects your revenue/ profit and losses. It really does not.

What can Malaysians do to support the Malaysian fashion scene better?

Shahrin: We have to understand that the scene we have is still at its infancy when compared to the fashion capitals of the world. We must first accept that we should not compare our scene to other fashion capitals and we have to own our scene and culture fully. We have to be unapologetically Malaysian with our ethos, aesthetics, and uniqueness.

There are many designers emerging in Malaysia. In your own words, what differentiates a good designer from a great designer?

Shahrin: A great accountant alongside the designer and a good sales colleague would help a lot as well.

At PMC, we often face the question of “Why so expensive for a Malaysian brand?”. What are your thoughts on this?

Shahrin: We have to get rid of the stigma that something made in Malaysia or ASEAN is supposed to be at the lower end of quality, experience, and price. Only when we stop comparing will this question be extinct.

What can we be expecting from S Bahar and where can we purchase your clothing?

Shahrin: We have just released a suit bag under our namesake brand. We feel this solves a lot of problems for people that want to bring their suits along while travelling. We are also coming out with a diffusion line that symbolizes alternative tailoring. We are developing suits that can be washed in a washing machine, sports jackets that are packable and tailoring made from knitwear. All this can be expected by the fourth quarter of 2020. We are a by appointment only studio and are located in Bangsar South. You can come to us for your tailored outfits such as suits, shirts and trousers. 

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