MUSIC and fashion go hand in hand, which could explain why musician Afiq Iskandar is not only heavily involved in two bands but also owns a clothing brand and store.
However, that is not the reason why Afiq dipped his toes in the fashion scene despite not having any interest in the field initially. He had a different motive altogether. “I came to terms with the fact that it’s (almost) impossible to make a living out of this (playing in a band) alone,” said the 27-year-old Red Ruby Avengers frontman.

Afiq, also the lead electric guitarist for Oh Chentaku, realised that he needed to find other ways to sustain his lifestyle and not just rely on the music industry. Fortunately, the musician quickly saw the vast opportunity to cash in from the local fashion industry.

He created Tarik Jeans, (“The word ‘Tarik’ is something all Malaysians understand, and I want my apparel to cater to them,” said Afiq) in 2010 and two months ago, Afiq and four of his friends opened the Nusantara Denims flagship store in Subang Jaya, PJ. The store carries several South East Asian denim and leather brands as well as his very own Tarik Jeans.

“I was never really a fashion person. But I believe that there is a certain manner in presenting ourselves,” he said.

Afiq believes that it is not easy to wear a look and claim it as yours. “It isn’t so much about whether you ‘own’ what you wear, but more of whether it represents you; your personality.
“Sometimes you see some musicians who wear ridiculous stuff, and it doesn’t mean it’s a bad or whatever. It’s just who they are.”

The electric guitarist describes his style as “long-lasting” and saw the opportunity to introduce a clothing line to those who share the same thought.

Growing up in a middle-class family, Afiq shared that he didn’t have many opportunities to purchase new clothes. But when his family buys clothes, “we’ll always buy stuff that would last.” That mentality has stuck with him until now.

“I’ll probably am the guy you see wearing the same clothes pretty often. Those are the outfits that become seasoned, but still very wearable.”

That was also one of the reasons why he fell in love with denim – because of its “long-lasting” quality.

Afiq believes that denim is not just an outfit, but a representation of a certain lifestyle and culture. However, he is saddened by the fact that many Malaysians still do not support locally made products. “I don’t understand why people think brand equals quality, and quality equals brand. You can have a good brand that produces low quality products and vice versa,” Afiq pointed out.

Afiq’s goal is to make Nusantara Denims a denim hub for people in South East Asia, and to make Tarik Jeans a household denim brand in Malaysia.

“I believe there is a ‘denim-head’ in everyone. No one would want their stuff to be broken and worn out fast. Instead, they want to see it grow into something beautiful. That’s what the denim lifestyle is all about,” he said.

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