Travel back to the year of 1994 in New York and that’s when the American skateboarding clothing brand Supreme first opened its doors to the public.
Previously known for their designs that cater to the niches of skateboarding, hip hop, rock and pop culture, they’re now known for being one of the top streetwear brands around the world.
Their products are often sought after due to the fact that they release limited editions of certain lines. For example, a collaboration with luxury fashion company—Louis Vuitton, Supreme sold limited items which caused resellers to inflate the prices in the secondary market. One hoodie even went up to RM57,000 at one point.
You might wonder who in the world would buy over-inflated priced products, but there’s actually a huge market of resellers and buyers for this industry.
The players involved are mainly young people and they are known as “hypebeasts”. They thrive on collectible clothes and sneakers, which they keep for themselves or sell for inflated prices in the secondary market. Some items are marked up by 1,000 percent, or more.
With Supreme leading the streetwear revolution, other brands have popped up too such as Bathing Ape and Stüssy. Even traditional brands like Nike, Adidas and Louis Vuitton have started to delve into the streetwear market as it’s estimated to be worth US$309 billion in July last year.
Hopping on the trend is Malaysia’s very own local streetwear brand Dr Mister—established in 2015 by Zac who rebranded his previous business into Dr Mister. The initial capital that was put into the brand was RM20,000 and for 2018 the brand brought in over RM500,000 in revenue.
Zac works on the overall operation of the business as well as the art direction for the collections. However he doesn’t do it alone as he has a team with an average age of 23.
He is very proud of having this current team of five as previously he had to do everything by himself at his home.
The name of the brand Dr Mister originated from DRMR, which is the abbreviation for the word “Dreamer”.
“As times goes by, I realise my belief represents much more than a dreamer and that is the time that I decided to make a change to the brand.”
“A dream will always be a dream unless you do something about it, we have been trying so hard in achieving our goals, I think we have grown more and the word ‘dreamer’ can no longer represent us. Hence, the brand evolved into Dr Mister,” said Zac.
When questioned as to what makes his brand different compared to other streetwear brands out there, he emphasised that most streetwear are tied to hip-hop culture but Dr Mister is closer to indie, or even classic rock compared to hip-hop.
He agreed that streetwear brands no matter international or local are strong in terms of their branding. However each brand is unique and he wouldn’t call it as competing but actually complementing each other in the scene, which helps in bringing up the recognition for Malaysian streetwear.
Growing A Following
Although Zac brands Dr Mister as a far-out experiment which is specially made for thinkers, the image has resonated with their audience, and Dr Mister now has a loyal social media following.
Now with 31,800 followers on Instagram and 10,000 followers on Facebook, Zac personally feels that the following is just decent and that he isn’t in a position to share any secrets to growing such a fanbase.
Instead, he believes that Dr Mister products speak for themselves as they have been focusing a lot of time on the design as well as finding the right quality.
“Most of our sales came through word of mouth or direct referrals, which I think is good in reflecting that we are actually heading in the right direction,” explained Zac.
Furthermore, Zac understands that communication with their followers plays a big part in their growth. He added, “We create a habit of telling stories about individual collections regularly which helps in creating an emotional bond with our followers.”
As for where they get inspiration from their designs, he mentioned that it comes from everyday life.
“We try to observe every tiny detail that happens around us or even random thoughts that we get. Then we will write it down and brainstorm all the interesting ideas that we can possibly add to our collection,” explained Zac.
Finding A Balance
In today’s world, information moves fast just like fashion trends and Zac finds that a problem as they’re selling value that is not the norm in the modern world; he puts it like “a fish swimming upstream”.
As the team focuses a lot of their time in creating new designs. this sometimes might get them behind in coming out with new collections.
However, they have learnt to overcome all those issues by finding the right balance such as adjusting their time frame to create designs based on the demand shown by customers.
“I think right now we as a team, we are more than capable at finding the right balance for our customers after all the ups and downs that we have gone through building Dr Mister,” added Zac.
Although they are currently based in Malaysia, he hopes that in five years time, Dr Mister will be known throughout Southeast Asia and more people will resonate with the brand’s values.
As for the products, fans can look forward to more in the future as Zac is personally interested in accessories such as handmade bracelets. However, he is wary to not get carried away and will focus on their current product range first and expand slowly step by step.