Meet the designer behind KL-based womenswear label, INNAI, that is breaking the barriers of traditional batik with its contemporary designs.
Mention INNAI to any women in Kuala Lumpur and you get nothing but positive remarks on the brand. INNAI was founded in 2004 by Managing Director Izrin Ismail’s mother, Aishah Saleh. Born out of the love for batik and urban aesthetics, INNAI broke the barriers of traditional art with contemporary geometric, floral and psychedelic designs. Izrin currently spearheads INNAI and INNAI RED under the INNAI Group of companies.
“When I started, I was co-handling it with my mother, as I was still studying. I helped her out with ideas on batik motifs and colours whereas she handles the production and the business,” says Izrin.
Izrin observed and learned the tricks and trades of the business by studying the techniques and history of batik making to managing staffs, suppliers, designs and accounts. “I saw a huge potential of batik in the local industry. What made me more interested in the batik industry was to bring forth batik to a younger market.”
For someone who is always under the limelight, Izrin swears by planning her outfit well together with accessories, bags and shoes. She usually incorporates trends into her wardrobe and makes it her own. Being a designer herself, she also has her own three favourite local designers – Khoon Hooi, Rizalman and Bernard Chandran.
Left: Juliani Jamal, Izrin Ismail, Arene P. Khairudin
In 2012, INNAI RED was born to cater to the demands of the market for modern bridal wear and elegant gowns for special events. Fronted by designers Arene P. Khairudin and Juliani Jamal, the collections are accented with intricate embellishments, dramatic hemlines and INNAI’s signature aesthetic.
INNAI RED showcased their first resort collection, “Rio Bonita” at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2016 and received astounding reviews. Since then, the brand has embarked on a few collaborations – including one with FashionValet, Asia’s leading online marketplace for the hottest local designers. “The most important criteria when doing a collaboration is to make sure that both parties would achieve a win-win outcome. It can’t be one-sided.”
The local fashion label promises an exciting line-up of collections this year. Inspired by the concept of “Raya at Home” their upcoming Raya collection will feature 16 luxurious and effortlessly chic styles.
Additionally, the team is creating a collection for the forthcoming Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week in August 2017. Seeking inspiration from desert flowers, succulents, cactus and the plains, the highly anticipated collection will also reflect hints of INNAI’s signature embellishments.
“The most important criteria when doing a collaboration is to make sure that both parties would achieve a win-win outcome. It can’t be one-sided.”
" I am very hands-on in the business and sustain with the ever-changing supply and demands"
Izrin’s drive to succeed is evident in the brand’s future plans. She envisions participating in international fashion trade fairs and debuting at International Fashion Weeks. “I am careful with my plans and try not to take big risks with the current economic downturn. I’m honest with my products and services and know who are my target market. I am very hands-on in the business and sustain with the ever-changing supply and demands.”
Creating a strong ready-to-wear line and having stockists, either departmental or multi-brand stores, overseas remain important to the growth of INNAI. We look forward to following how their ethos of great PR with clients and being as personal as you can be will pay off.