Machinery fashion: EGAN set to launch forklift-inspired fashion label with help of design students

Ester Haw Jing Rong posing with her unique hexagonal nut-inspired fashion accessory designs. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Ester Haw Jing Rong posing with her unique hexagonal nut-inspired fashion accessory designs. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, Aug 29 — Inspiration for fashion can come from almost anything.

But chances are you wouldn’t think of forklifts when looking for something to stimulate your creativity.

That might change, as Egan Equipment & Parts Sdn Bhd is looking to diversify their forklift business into fashion, with the help of the creative minds at Saito University College in Petaling Jaya.

Named, “CULT” derived from the word “culture”, EGAN’s fashion label is the brainchild of director and co-founder, Nicholas Gan, who wants to change the way the public looks at forklifts.

“Forklift parts are often misunderstood. Last time when you think about forklifts, that’s it, that’s all it is, but now it is different,” said Gan during an interview with Malay Mail at the finals of EGAN/CULT’s fashion accessory design competition yesterday in Petaling Jaya.

Gan, who is the son of EGAN’s founder B.P. Gan, was tired of people viewing forklifts as “boring” and had an epiphany after being inspired by his predominantly young workforce.

One of the finalist’s take on bracelets based off of forklift parts. — Picture by Choo Choy May
One of the finalist’s take on bracelets based off of forklift parts. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“About 70 per cent of our workforce is Gen Y, because I love to employ young people because they are so creative, innovative and passionate,” said Gan

“So I wanted to cultivate the interest in forklifts amongst them by making forklifts fun and trendy, because these parts are an inspiration, they are so much more than what you see.”

In light of his epiphany, Gan got to work as he approached various universities to take on the task of producing fashionable accessories from forklift parts, and found the right partner in Saito University College.

Twenty students were chosen to take part in the EGAN/CULT Fashion Design Accessory Competition 2019, with the winners’ designs being featured in CULT’s first-ever unisex fashion line.

But only if they managed to impress the notable panel of judges, Bill Keith, Orson Liyu and Keith Kee, who designed Amber Chia’s RM 380,000 silk chiffon wedding gown.

Who would have thought that forklift parts could into these gem-like earrings? — Picture by Choo Choy May
Who would have thought that forklift parts could into these gem-like earrings? — Picture by Choo Choy May

The students were given the opportunity to visit EGAN’s warehouse and office in Taman Miharja, Kuala Lumpur, where they were dumbfounded by “lanes and lanes” of forklift parts which took up six floors.

Although these parts aren’t usually used in the fashion industry like fabric, needles and lace, the lecturers at Saito were keen for their students to test their innovative minds and step out of their comfort zone, as it is part of the learning journey.

After taking multiple pictures and doing intensive research on the parts that inspired them, the students got their heads down and began working on their forklift accessories.

From the 20 participants, five finalists, Alaysia Chen Yi Teng, Ester Haw Jin Rong, Sara Alysha Ranee Bakri, Yushathiana Tuah Ahmad Fauzi and Yuvia Lee Ying Jing, and their works were chosen to be presented to the media on the final day of the competition.

The winner of the CULT Fashion Design Accessory Competition, Ester Haw Jing Rong (middle) posing with CULT’s chief executive officer, Stephanne Foong (left) and EGAN’s director, Nicholas Gan (right) during the prize presentation. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The winner of the CULT Fashion Design Accessory Competition, Ester Haw Jing Rong (middle) posing with CULT’s chief executive officer, Stephanne Foong (left) and EGAN’s director, Nicholas Gan (right) during the prize presentation. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Haw came out on top in the end as she walked away with RM3,000, as her choker, bracelet and earrings inspired by forklift nuts caught the eye of the judges.

“I was inspired by the hexagonal shape of the nut and wanted to keep my design simple, something that a man or a woman could wear,” said Haw.

“I feel good, I agreed to take part for the experience, but I never thought I would win.”

Lee came in second with her unique necklace and earring creations, taking home RM1,000, with Alaysia, Yushathiana and Sara picking up the first, second and third consolation prizes respectively.

Second place winner, Yuvia Lee posing with her earring and necklace fashion accessory designs. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Second place winner, Yuvia Lee posing with her earring and necklace fashion accessory designs. — Picture by Choo Choy May

So keep an eye out for their quirky creations, as the designs of the top prize winners will be featured in CULT’s upcoming fashion label.

If it is received well by the target consumers, aged 18 to 35, don’t be surprised to see forklift-inspired streetwear hitting the shelves soon, as EGAN/CULT has more plans to “give back to society in a fashionable way”.

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