What’s something that will never go out of style? If you answered T-shirts, jeans and chivalry, congrats! You get nothing. The aforementioned items (yes, chivalry included) are some things we will always need but may not necessarily put a lot of thoughts into, just like how we treat our T-shirts. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I only seek out my T-shirts when I’m feeling lazy to dress up or when I simply cannot think of what to wear. T-shirts are like my kelefehs, never the A-lister.
This is where Boleh Pakai comes in and change all of our minds when it comes to T-shirts. The team is made up of partners, Aaron and Daniel, who design and sell some really, really cool and hipster-ish T-shirts that’s bound to cater to the tastes of many, be it hipsters or normal people like you and I. Their designs often incorporate movie themes with a little twist that’s funny and weird at the same time, but you’ll end up loving it anyway. As our Crunch of the Month, it’s only mandatory for us to grill the boys behind Boleh Pakai about the reason behind the brand’s name, their thoughts on the local clothing industry and er, if they like their teeth or hair more.
Tell us a little about what inspired the founding of Boleh Pakai.
Aaron (A): We love our artistic, creative, funky and funny tees. And we’ve always loved amazing ideas on tees. Really speaks volumes about a person’s personality, style, etc. But unfortunately, the only way to acquire such goodies is to buy them online from sites overseas. And it does burn a huge hole in our wallets, especially with the declining economy, etc. So we figured that we should start this out as a hobby, since we have the passion for it. After all, we can’t be the only ones from this side of the world that dig and crave for such tees, right?
Daniel (D): We realised these type of tees are quite hard to find in the local market. Usually, the official merchandises are expensive and design wise, not worth the money. So we thought to ourselves that we can do better and sell at a much more reasonable price.
How did the name “Boleh Pakai” come about?
A: We felt that it was catchy in a local sorta way, and really does speak volumes about what we’re creating and selling. Then I started to look for like-minded companions to join me on this merry adventure. That’s when I met Daniel who had just returned from his studies overseas.
D: Usually when buying items, we tend to ask the seller; “Eh, ni confirm boleh pakai tak? (Would this item work or last long?)” We’ve seen a lot of upcoming local brands that doesn’t have any catchy ring to it. “Boleh Pakai” sounds just right.
Are you planning to venture into other clothing items in the future?
A: Yes we definitely are, but that’s much further down the pipeline as we’re a really small operation, with our own individual jobs and lives keeping us busy.
D: If and only if we hit a really large amount of sales, good enough to quit our day jobs to fully focus on this, then yeah. For now, we’re taking it at a slow but steady pace.
Is there a main identity for your brand or are you open to trying out different styles?
A: Like all things creative, we’re definitely open to trying out different styles of art, etc. The beauty about ideas on a tee is that there are no restrictions. It’s just a matter of whether people get the idea that we’ve put on a tee, which is subjective.
D: Like what Aaron said, design is subjective. Some people get our ideas, some don’t. Some needs to listen to an explanation about the idea before they get it. We’re not gonna stick to just one identity. That’s kinda boring and we’re definitely not trying to go down that path.
How was the reception from the public when you first introduced your brand?
A: It was surprisingly very positive. We had our “small debut” during VAX 2015 @ MIECC, and the response from the public was really encouraging and motivating for us. Which says a lot, because it means that there are people out there who are into the kinda tees that we’re also into.
D: Our debut last year was good. We’re happy about the public’s response because they finally have another interesting option to choose from compared to the usual minimalism street-wear brands you see dominating Insta feeds. A lil bit of colour in your wardrobe doesn’t hurt anybody.
Who are your target audience?
A: Well, we don’t really have a target audience per say. It’s anyone and everyone who digs our ideas. I can safely say that we’re not targeting anyone who’s really into fashion!
D: Yeap. Just anyone.
Is everyone in your team doing this full-time or is it a part-time venture?
A: It’s a part-time venture as we’re a really small setup. And we each have our own day jobs keeping us busy.
D: Part-time for now. I’m juggling at least 3 jobs including this one, so unless Aaron and I strike like some huge-ass jackpot from Da Ma Cai, only then will we go full-time.
Were you guys always interested in designing or was it a sudden moment of inspiration?
A: We’ve both always been interested in art, design and creativity. Especially when it comes to ideas and how we can mix and mash a few things together to create something. We’re both geeks in our own ways so it’s a unique blend and combination.
Mind explaining a little on how the process of making each T-shirt goes?
A: We brainstorm and come up with an array of ideas for our designs. Then we prioritize which ones to launch in batches first. We try to ride on the latest and upcoming trends when we can.
D: Usually it starts with just a really casual brainstorming session. Usually over a BPL match during the weekend and for each half, we’re just watching while trying to cook up something. There are a tonne of designs and ideas in the vault, but we both agreed that it’s best to release them when they’re trending. A design can take at least a month of fine-tuning and revisions. Usually we plan out months in advanced, and see whether we are able to come up with the final design before the deadline to print and release.
Any dreams or plans of opening a store one day?
A: We want to keep our business strictly online. Less overheads. So much easier to manage and grow as well. Online businesses are the way to go!
D: You sponsor la, we’ll send you flowers as a “thank you.”
What are your thoughts on the local clothing industry in Malaysia?
A: I feel it’s growing as Malaysians really are trendy people. And we’re also very open to very creative stuff, regardless of what type or kind of fashion it is. But the thing that we feel is lacking in our local clothing industry, is the creation of the tees that we’re trying to create. Which in a way, is good for us.
D: A lot has changed in the last decade. Aaron’s right, we’re very trendy fashion wise. But what’s lacking is colour. I find myself guilty for just having black/grey/white clothes and it’s about time we add some colour into the market. Sure, the whole monotone type of wardrobe feel is cool, but tell me, what’s really interesting about it?
Any personal hopes for the local clothing industry in the near future?
A: Personal hopes would be that we should try and stop copying other people’s ideas and works. Especially when it comes to the kinda tees that we’re doing. And also the T-shirt printing options in this country really needs to grow up. We’re so behind compared to what the other countries like the States are offering. You cannot imagine how hard and expensive it is to just print a single tee.
D: I hope we, as part of the local clothing community, stop trying to copy. Have you seen Brandwashed’s Instagram account? Good Lord, I hope we don’t end up at that page. As much as it’s funny to see how we are ripping off overseas brands, it’s actually a sad state to be at. We‘ll definitely move out of that phase, and start to go back to the drawing board and create fresh new ideas. But it’ll take time. I really long to see the day international celebrities are proud to say that they’re wearing something that’s designed and made in Malaysia. Beckham wore the sarong, everyone lost their shit.
What about local designers? Do you have a favourite?
A: No real favourite local designer. And to be honest, it’s hard for people to try and spread the word about their work. People are still very “traditional” in that department.
D: Nope. I really wished I could name a few. Maybe I have yet to find one.
Because we’re ROJAK and we like to make people laugh and/or feel uncomfortable, we obviously had to ask our very important random questions before we wrapped up.
Favourite female superhero?
A: Ms. Marvel tops my list!
D: Shoutout to Black Widow, whaddup!
If you can only choose one dish to eat everyday for the rest of your lives, what would it be?
A: That’s a tough question to ask a foodie who’s also a Malaysian! But if I really had to choose then it would be… mixed rice! (That’s cheating!)
D: Char siew wonton noodles.
Are you a dog or cat person?
A: I’ve had both so I really cannot choose. I love animals!
D: Dogs because the pet cats I’ve encountered so far are kinda like assholes.
What’s one of the strangest things you’ve ever done?
A: Done too many, but the absolute strangest would have to be me being fed bread that’s been soaked in anti-chewing spray, that’s meant for pets. Don’t ask.
D: When I was a kid, I tried experimenting on drinks so I mixed coke and hot Milo. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea. I spent the remaining day dropping bombs in the toilet bowl.
What’s the first thing you notice about people?
A: Their T-shirt!
Would you rather drop all of your teeth or lose all your hair at this age?
A: Does it speak volumes about my age because I really want to lose all my hair? Praying I look like Walter White as I age.
D: You guys at ROJAK sure ask some weird but tough questions. Oh wells, with this weather I’d rather lose all my hair. Goodbye top-knot.
How do you like your steak?
A: I love my big pieces of meat to be medium-well, with no gravy (because I believe that a magical steak doesn’t need any gravy) and a small side of veggies (mushrooms, potatoes and broccoli).
D: I don’t really eat steaks. I prefer chicken. #TeamChicken
In case you haven’t heard, we’re giving YOU a chance to WIN Boleh Pakai’s T-shirts. How? Head over to this post to learn more about our T-shirt giveaway contest. Also, don’t forget to check out Boleh Pakai’s social media as follows:
All photos sourced from Boleh Pakai’s Facebook page.