The age-old adage “fashions fade, style is eternal” by legendary craftsman Yves Saint Laurent may have been repeated one time too many but the truth it holds is irrefutable. Although fashion has always been associated with women by default, recent years have seen a tremendous upsurge of interest in menswear and men’s trends amongst the modern gentlemen. However, it is beyond saying that clothes alone never make a man, for the fact remains that substance and character are built on old-fashioned virtues like honesty and trust. Style has always been more than clothes as it encompasses one’s relationship to the internal and how that is expressed to the outside world. Hence, let’s take a look at some of Malaysia’s most stylish men (presented in random order) who have what it takes to be uniquely fashionable and to also inspire others.
A gifted culinary artist who found fame as a contestant on Masterchef Malaysia in 2011, Chef Nik Michael has hosted a wide range of successful TV shows since then, namely Dapur Panas and Tea Twist. Currently a restaurateur who runs his own restaurant called Picknik in Solaris Dutamas, the cooking whiz also never ceases to look as sharp as his knives are in the kitchen. Having designed his own chef jacket that he wears when working, his affinity for Fashion Maison Pestle & Mortar and vintage Bally shoes should come as a surprise to nobody. How does he describe his style? “It is mainly filled with essentials such as converse shoes, classic white shirts, and dark blue jeans. But I will always add a tinge or colour or a small distinct detail,” said Nik who looks to Pharrell Williams for inspiration.
Born and raised in Manila, Philippines before moving to Malaysia, Olympic track cyclist Josiah Ng embodies the best of both worlds – the signature Filipino warmth and the cool Malaysian hardiness. Coming from these two different, vibrant cultures has aided Josiah in another area of interest too: His fashion sense. Being a renowned athlete, eyes are always fixed on the Olympian both on and off the track, and the sportsman never ceases to impress both his cycling fans and the fashion police. The numerous injuries that he has experienced in his career, namely a punctured lung, a concussion, a bruised hip and two broken ribs, have only made him emerge stronger and sharper than ever. The entrepreneur who oversees the management of his brands – Spectablend and 5bling – is currently training to score a medal at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Growing up without a father figure (his father passed away when he was three), Redza Minhat did not have the luxury of looking up to a close family member to become a ‘stylish man’. He learnt to be one mostly through ‘trial and error’, not being able to conform and rebelling while growing up. Hailing from Ayer Tawar, a small town in Perak, Redza is now well-known in the country particularly as a film actor, a screenwriter and a playwright who has amassed nominations for multiple awards in the country and abroad including the shout awards, Malaysian Film Festival, Anugerah Skrin as well as the ASEAN International Film Festival & Awards. Also a member of the zany comedy troop Projek Disko Baldi, Redza Minhat manages his passion towards the arts while still maintaining his current profession as a banker. He keeps a relevant style to find balance for his many professions that is apt for the level head on his shoulders.
Considered one of the most prominent faces in today’s mixed martial art sports in Malaysia, Peter Davis is not just another handsome face with a sharp fashion sense. Boasting an astounding professional record of a whopping seven wins in the MMA arena, it might come of a surprise that the half-Malaysian half-Briton was once a financial consultant for a subsidiary of the Lehman Brothers’ banking empire. Peter’s current career as a fighter began thanks to a single decision he made – to come to Malaysia for a holiday with his family many years ago. After setting ablaze the local modelling industry with his good looks and charm, it wasn’t long before he appeared in theatrical productions such as sell-out and reality television, namely Hot Guys Who Cook. However, the Pan-Asian’s martial artist’s true passion has always been MMA, which he is now pursuing diligently.
Jazeman first took up karting at age six and has never looked back since. One of Malaysia’s leading racing drivers, the young prodigy started racing professionally since he was seven years old and has won more than eleven kart race victories in various countries thereafter. His spectacular talent was recognised worldwide when Jazeman was issued with an International C License at the young age of 14, one year younger than what is standard. Being very young with an exposure to international culture and customs since small, the racer has honed a smooth and confident style appropriate for when he’s behind the wheels or just spending a day out with friends. The racing whiz has partnered with Mercedes and Petronas for a long time and can be expected to be burning rubber non-stop to achieve more milestones.
Bront Palarae is a man of many hats; being an actor, director and entrepreneur doesn’t leave much room for one to keep up with appearances, and yet the artist succeeds exceptionally in that too. One of the best-dressed male celebrities to be constantly recognised for his quirky take on classic menswear, Bront admits to not having a particular style but rather adapts and improvises what he sees on everyday people, a trait he acquires from his profession. Being half-Thai, the award-winning philanthropist is also used to being a trendsetter. “The Thais are 6 months to a year advanced in terms of fashion compared to Malaysians. Imagine, living in Alor Setar in the 90’s when my dad bought me a pair of Converse fold-over high tops in 1989 from Bangkok that were laughed at by my school friends, but they all went crazy over it 3 years later,” recounted Bront.
Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor
Malaysia’s first ever commercial astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar was launched to the international space station aboard Soyuz TMA-11M with the Expedition 16 crew in 2007, under an agreement with Russia. He was working as an orthopaedic surgeon before taking part in the nation-wide hunt for a space explorer via Angkasawan programme. Since his return, the space explorer has been actively involved in various activities, ranging from modelling to giving motivational speeches and recounting his experiences during his training and in space to the public. The cosmonaut also performed various experiments on board the international space station relating to the characteristics and growth of liver cancer and leukaemia cells, the crystallisation of various proteins and microbes in space. These experiments have provided new opportunities for Malaysian scientists to take part in the pharmaceutical industry by producing some medicine locally.
One of Malaysia’s go-to presenters and models, many may not be aware that host extraordinaire Henry Golding is also a professionally-trained hairstylist. Of mixed heritage, Henry grew up predominantly in the UK before relocating to Asia in 2008, which has turned out to be a good move after all. Since then, he has hosted countless television shows on a wide variety of channels, including a weekly football show on ESPN, exposés on channel news Asia and the most prominent of them all, the 8TV quickie by Mediaprima. Travel programmes are also Henry’s specialty, having done numerous shows that have brought him to almost every nook and cranny of the planet. As a model, Henry’s immaculate sense of fashion that he already grew up with has been further honed as a result of being many years in the industry.
Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Former national squash player and founder of the Malaysian Tour Squash Circuit (SSJM), Mohd Azlan Iskandar is the embodiment of modern Malaysian heritage. Starting squash at just 8 years old, he received early education in Kuching, Sarawak before heading to SMK Subang Jaya and then Bukit Jalil Sports School, where he trained vigorously knowing one day he will be a professional squash player. Having won both Malaysia Open and Kuala Lumpur Open on top of a gold medal in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Azlan was once ranked top 10 in the International Professional Squash Association rankings. Style wise, the national athlete has always dressed sharp and smart since stepping into the limelight, even before his marriage to a fashion designer.
The current Federal Minister for Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin was born in Kuwait and soon after obtained education in various countries such as Singapore and the United Kingdom making him a man of international intrigue. After graduating, Khairy, who has always dressed to impress, worked as a journalist and presenter for talk shows Dateline Malaysia and The Economist in 1999. Blessed with charm and tact for public speaking, it wasn’t long before he rose up the ranks and in the course changed the fashion landscape of Malaysian politicians. Significantly active in social media, the style-maker has garnered a large online following who are not only eager to be in the loop of his witty remarks but also to know more about his interesting style choices.