What started off as a handful of locally design T-shirts celebrates its 8th momentous years in the streetwear fashion industry. From collaboration with Paul Bush to Royal Selangor, we have one third of Pestle & Mortar, Hugh Koh to talk about the Pride of Southeast Asia, so sit back and ready to get inspired by today’s Featured Interview!
1. Hi Hugh! Please tell us more about yourself.
Hi everyone, this is Hugh. I spent my adolescent years in Sydney and Perth completing my Bachelors of Applied Science in Architecture from Curtin University, Australia. Fuelled by my passion and curiosity for the art, I went on to work in multiple architecture firms in both Australia and Malaysia and dabbled with various projects which featured a handful of my work. In 2010, I found myself in the face of a new opportunity that would lead me to pursue my interest in fashion. Having started humbly as a couple of guys who sold t-shirts which my partners and I design, Pestle & Mortar Clothing which I co-founded is today one of the leading streetwear labels in Southeast Asia.
2. What inspired you to start Pestle & Mortar? Share with our readers the process that led you to where you are today and how you get that name.
We thought why don’t we make clothes we want to wear. Better still clothes that represented who we are and where we’re from. Pestle & Mortar Clothing was born. The USP of the brand was to highlight everyday things about Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
The name derives from us being Asian boys and a pestle & mortar can be found is almost every Asian household. All of us also come from different industries and also different experiences very much like ingredients you put into a pestle & mortar to grind and crush into something which is our clothing. It really made sense so we went ahead with the name.
3. You have collaborated with other local brands and international artist like Paul Bush. Are there other brands or artist that you would like to collaborate with?
In this day and age we are looking more towards unconventional collaborations very much like the Royal Selangor collabo we did early this year. Collaborations like this make our followers go “wow” never thought we would see this happening. This is what we aim for. We are not limiting ourselves to not only artist or other clothing brands but how about architects / industrial designers and so on. We have a bunch lined up this 2018 so do stay tuned.
4. How do you come up with all the ideas for shirt designs?
Design inspiration comes very natural for us. It is in our daily activities whether it be driving or even travels that might strike a chord. We try to keep a bulk of our work related to what the brand stands for which is Malaysia or even Southeast Asia. From time to time we like to explore other more international ideas that continue to intrigue our customers. Ideas do not only come from the designers or myself but from everyone in the company.
5. Do your circle of friends are into the same kind of fashion as what you’ve put forth on Pestle & Mortar?
Pestle & Mortar Clothing is very universal when it comes to our customers. We almost have something for everyone. Our friends even though different in nature, are able to incorporate the brand in a certain angle of their lives. Whether it be something as simple as a t-shirt or even a tote bag for the gym.
6. What makes Pestle & Mortar stand out compared to other local brands?
It would have to be our brand mantra “Pride Of Southeast Asia” and also our design inspirations or even partnerships. We take a very different approach to the way we do things. We like to think out of the box. We continue to put Malaysia and SEA on the map. We also have the first to market approach being one of the very few Malaysian streetwear labels that started in 2010. We are celebrating our 8 year anniversary this year.
7. What are your goals for Pestle & Mortar in the year 2018?
We are looking at expanding our product offering. Even though we are a clothing brand, we like to think ourselves more of a lifestyle brand. What is stopping us from selling furniture, music or even property! If it makes sense to us and the brand we will do it.
8. Favorite collection or collaboration so far?
Hands down Royal Selangor Pewter. It was something very different and unexpected. RS is a 133 year old brand and finding the meeting point the middle was extremely exciting. The learning curve for us was also an amazing experience.
9. Pestle & Mortar turns 8 this year. What can we expect from Pestle & Mortar in the next 8 years to come?
Retail and clothing is extremely challenging especially in our fast moving landscape of today. We hope by then we won’t only be a brand for Malaysians or SE.Asians but also for the world audience.
10. Any advice for local young entrepreneurs who want to start their own clothing line?
Continue to dream and dream big! Listen to your audience and take everything with a pinch of salt.