17 Jun A Leap of Faith: Rin Zheng

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A Singaporean teacher moves to Malaysia, and starts a fashion label called KOZO. Contrary to popular belief, having started a fashion brand doesn’t make one a fashion designer. That is the case with KOZO’s founder, Rin Zheng who does not see herself as a designer – in fact, far from it. She prefers to be known as the business owner and mastermind of KOZO or better yet, the girl boss behind the label. Teaching Physical Education and Math, Rin would have probably been your cool teacher in school. Don’t let her edgy exterior fool you though – her kick-ass persona is quickly softened with a bright smile and infectious giggles.

As an underdog without any background in fashion, Rin makes up for it with her experience in retail. Four years ago, Rin had her own multi-label store in Bangsar, and she also had the opportunity to co-open FABSPY in Mid Valley. She built a network of her own, connecting with business owners and designers – many of which have become supportive friends who encouraged her to venture into building her own clothing line. It was one of those “secret dreams” that Rin always had.  So, she took a leap of faith and started KOZO.

KOZO is a reflection of Rin’s personal style. She has never been a big fan of bold prints and complicated details, preferring to opt for solid colours – black and white, especially. The second collection from KOZO is the beautifully crafted Episode Two: Conquer from Within. When asked about her favourite picks, Rin just could not choose, and so for our shoot, she decided on the Mia Jumpsuit and Yen blouse, both of which, are a crowd favourite.

With “change as the only constant”, Rin is always keeping an open mind about future, which in turn keeps her looking forward to what lies ahead. We are just as excited as she is, to watch the future of KOZO unfold.

Check out Rin’s interview below.

What was your source of inspiration for Episode Two: Conquer from Within?

KOZO pieces thus far have always been about asymmetry, structure and keeping details subtle. Episode Two is about staying true to our form and a continuation of producing pieces that are inherently KOZO.

Inspired by stories during International Women’s Day and women I have come to know, Episode Two dedicates itself to women who overcome societal norms and emerge warriors in their own right.

What was your favourite part about designing Episode Two?

For me, it would be initial stages where I start translating the ideas and concept I have in my head. And the eventual result of seeing it come to “life”.

Could you explain more about the looks you’re wearing?

I have chosen the Mia Jumpsuit and Yen Kimono Top as the key pieces for each look. These pieces are pretty versatile and the wearer can always play around with these pieces to create different looks to suit their mood.

For the first look, I am leaning towards to something more androgynous and rugged, cause I’m feeling like a little boyish today.  I folded my Mia jumpsuit, changing the look completely and pairing them with my Dr. Martens boots and black wrist leather cuff.

For the second look, I was going for something more 80’s and bohemian hence the headscarf, the bell-bottomed jeans and flatforms.

As a brand owner of a clothing label, what are some of the struggles that you face and how do you overcome them?

KOZO is very new and very young, so we have to work very hard at brand building for starts. And we are still working at improving it. Our understanding is simple, having a clothing line is a business ultimately. The label can be my outlet for expression but if at the end of the day or months or years, the dollars and cents don’t mark sense, it kind of kills your passion regardless. So I’m reminded to try to balance creativity, practicality and from time to time keeping the numbers in check.

What’s your styling routine like?

I’m pretty laid back when it comes to styling myself. My mantra is to keep it simple and you can’t go wrong with black and white.

Who plays a major role in influencing what you do?

My husband. He has been my pillar of support and has always been very encouraging. Mostly because he rarely says no to me. *smirks*

But on a more serious note, he always has ideas churning in his head, sharing with me his thoughts about the business and imparts the never-try-never-know belief in me.

I used to be a very very cautious person but after meeting him, he has helped to lead me out of my comfort zone step by step. In turn, I still remind him of my look-many- times-before-you-leap mentality. Singaporean born and bred, what can I say.

Which designer do you look up to?

Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. Mostly because of their steadfast sense of values and beliefs and how they stuck to it in this ever changing and fleeting society we live in.

What keeps you grounded?

My belief that the chase is never ending. We need to know how to be happy with what we have and that little successes can fill your heart too.

What’s next for KOZO?

We hope to continue to build our clientele here in Malaysia and slowly make our way to Singapore. And we might even consider venturing into menswear, activewear and maybe even lifestyle. But no point counting your chickens before they hatch. We’ll just take it as it comes and grab opportunities when presented to us.

Name 3 things that you can’t leave home without.

Besides the obvious. I can’t leave home without my winged eyes, giving my furkid a hug and my accessories.

Shot at: Inside Scoop, Bangsar

Shop KOZO – FABSPY.com
KOZO’s Facebook – www.facebook.com/kozodesign/
Rin’s Instagram – @zyrin // @iwearkozo

Photography by: Andy Goh (@ee.goh)
Article by: Denise Lee (@missnise7)