updated 10 Jan 2014, 23:04
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Fri, Jan 10, 2014
The Star/ANN
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Fashion at your fingertips
by Dzireena Mahadzir

ALIN Anuar is young, confident and hyper. Calling herself a fashion innovator, the 32-year-old has managed to turn her online business into a thriving one, with customers worldwide.

Her company Asian Atelier was founded in 2000, and it all started from a kebaya. The whole concept is based, she says, on marrying "traditional elegance with avant-garde flair".

"When I first started, I sold kebayas. I had a line called Chantiq Skaly. I like to innovate, take the kebaya and do things with it. I have an IT background. My colleagues did some form of online business. I was interested in fashion, and I wanted to do something close to my roots, so I chose the kebaya. My customers were from the United States and Australia. In fact, my first American customer helped to set up my website."

Alin partnered with the American customer and started going to trade shows. She had things made in a workshop locally, and then sold in the United States.

"At trade shows, I met people who were interested and that's how it grew. I took the knowledge and applied it to my business so when I go to trade shows, I bring all the brands," she adds.

It was in 2006 that Alin started expanding beyond her own brands. An Indonesian designer specialising in officewear for young women approached her, and this was a market that was virtually non-existent then.

Alin brought the brand to be exhibited at the Singapore Fashion Week. After that, she felt more confident to explore the idea of representing more brands - all with an Asian theme, of course.

Her business now includes her own brands - Chantiq Skaly House of Kebaya, ChantiqChantiq Purse, Maharani and Alin Anuar Couture Shoe - as well as New Job and Deanade NU. Prices start from RM200.

"My business is mainly bridal but I've got other stuff, too. I'm also going to launch another brand by a Malay designer, featuring innovative baju kurung. I feel there's a market for it, so we're trying to make it more wearable."

For the kebaya, Alin has come up with examples that incorporate the design of Hollywood celebrities' outfits into the kebaya.

She actually interned with well-known Indonesian designer Anne Avantie, and learnt all about the proper structure of the kebaya and how important it was to have the correct fit and undergarments.

"I'm very meticulous when it comes to bridal wear. I never thought people would actually dare order online. I have a standard order pack. I have visuals, colour charts and I ask a lot of questions so I can understand their taste. After that, I need a picture of them so I can create a design. I will also choose the fabric and do the beadwork. In terms of fit, I look at the height, body shape and weight. After years of experience, I can tell from the measurements what style would best suit a person."

Her forte is the applique. It's lace with any kind of pattern and she embellishes them in different styles, preferring the use of semi-precious stones. She also chooses the colours. She applies these appliques of beadwork and lace to make the outfit unique.

If you're not happy with the product, you can send it back for alterations - there's a 20% discount for that.

Alin advises clients to go to a professional seamstress beforehand, to get their exact body measurements.

While Chantiq Skaly is the bridal range, the style is always kebaya. Think custom-made kebayas with embellishments, and in short or long versions. Her customers have asked for bags to go with the outfits, which has led to vintage clutches (ChantiqChantiq Purse), veils (Maharani) and shoes (Alin Anuar Couture Shoe) so the brands all complement each other.

Alin is also a certified wedding planner. In 2008, her services expanded to include wedding planning and consultancy services, so it's a one-stop centre for brides.

The multi-talented businesswoman has a showroom in Malaysia, an office in Singapore and a studio in Jakarta.

In Jakarta, boutique owners use her workshop facilities to make their clothes. Alin says she's had years to build her business, so her current focus is on maintaining it: "I want to move away from being a designer and be known as an entrepreneur."

Last year, she showcased her 10th anniversary kebaya collection at the Malaysia International Fashion Week. For someone who started at the tender age of 21, she's certainly come a long way.

Her website ( has been revamped. As for her customers, they are in the younger age range, as these tend to be the people who order online.

She handles the business with help from her sisters. Alin spends a lot of time travelling to Jakarta and Singapore.

"My family is my inspiration, I've always been the one who wants to look after everyone. My intention was to have a business that my sisters can go into it in the future."

Alin says it helps to have an understanding husband who's used to her work schedule. Apart from her business, she has set up the Anuar Anis Foundation, named after her late father. A fixed amount from whatever she makes goes to various charitable instituitions.

Believe it or not, everything she creates is sold online, and Alin is happy to keep it that way. And why not? It makes perfect business sense to expand online and reach a wider international clientele, and that's exactly what Alin has done to great success.


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