KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — A factory closure left Mohd Azwan Md Nor without a job. But along came a moustache that not only saved him, but transmogrified him into the fashion internet monster we all know and love/hate — Wak Doyok.
Gaining initial fame on Instagram back in 2009, not much was known about Wak Doyok at the time aside from him having a distinctive moustache, a commitment to wearing suits in the Malaysian heat, and the spare time to snap fashion lookbook-worthy photos of himself with his friends, which were never used as anything more than Instagram posts.
He now hosts television shows, collaborated with a fashion designer for KL Fashion Week, and even owns a brand of grooming products named after him.
The 35-year-old currently commands the attention of over 886,000 followers on Instagram, and for Malaysians, his name has become synonymous with being moustachioed regardless whether you say it to ridicule or compliment a person.
And to think, it all began with him trying to get a job selling shirts.
In his own words:
Before all of this, I was actually an assistant executive at an automotive factory in Shah Alam. It closed down and I had to choose between accepting a VSS (voluntary separation scheme) or moving to their factory in Kulim, Kedah. So I took the money. I tried going into business but my money ran out after just over a year.
I was working all kinds of odd jobs after that, like cutting grass and cleaning lorries for about three years, then my friend told me about a job in retail for an international brand just expanding in Malaysia. They turned me down for the job at the booth handling customers because I didn’t fit the look they wanted, but I joined the team as a retail assistant.
I still wanted the job at the “shirt bar” because it paid better, so I studied what was fashionable at the time and what would appeal to their branding. At the time it was the start of the “hipster look” which involved facial hair so I picked a style that suited my face. It took me about six months to grow the moustache and put my clothes together before I went back in for the interview and I got the job then with my new look.
The whole reason I started exploring fashion was for practical reasons to get a better paying job. I never thought it would turn out like this. But even now I spend not more than RM500 a month on clothes, because I don’t actually wear much high-end branded clothes.
Back when I was broke, I only shopped at bundle stores. A top spot I would recommend is at Buntil in Shah Alam. I was such a regular that the owner would call me over when he was about to break open a new bundle shipment.
Don’t underestimate the value of cheap clothes. I do the alterations myself to make the clothes fit me right, and it made all the difference in how it was perceived. And at a bundle store, RM100 can get me about four pairs of pants.
I am aware of how I come across, with the posed photos I post on Facebook. When people see it, they think I’m “poyo” (the Malay equivalent of the English slang “poser”). But that is just how “gentlemen” and menswear fashion is meant to look. My personality is not the same as you see me on Instagram, and now people see that as I do more hosting jobs where they actually get to see me as myself. I think I’m winning over many more of the people who initially hated me now that I’m hosting television shows.
But there will always be haters. To them, I say thank you. Thank you haters for all the free publicity you give me.
The thing about haters is that they’re born out of envy and spite. Haters don’t really exist beyond being merely keyboard warriors. If one of these haters truly appears in front of me, believe me, they will keep their head down. Because in truth, those who hate on me either want to dress well too but don’t know how, or hide behind fake Instagram accounts.
For me, all I want to do is guide people who are looking to dress well, and be an example through my Instagram posts. I try to make it educational on the kinds of material, determining sizes and fit, like a Standard 1 class, then move on to a Standard 2 class, and so on until my followers can go on auto-pilot and develop their own style. So I would say that my followers are largely made up of people who are just starting out in fashion and are looking for a starting point. It is difficult to be fashionable without someone giving you a little push, or guiding you.