Is it a fashion brand or a way of life? Founder of Almost Quaint, Ikhwan Aiman, thinks it's more on the latter. Established in March 2015, the label (shortened to simply AQ) represents a brand offering an alter ego to the youth culture of today, where being different is celebrate and there is no need to filter out the chaotic white noise; they are the noise. Below, we speak to Ikhwan on AQ's stance on self-expression, going against the grain and more.
What does it exactly mean to be 'Almost Quaint'? How does it relate to your brand story?
The name Almost Quaint came from Raymond Pettibon who is responsible for Black Flag logo. It's also known as Almost "Weird". In the Malay language, AQ is ‘Hampir Pelik’. I refuse to do the same thing other brands do, I want to be unique.
Can you walk us through your creative process behind your clothing i.e how you conceptualize them, where you find inspiration, how you source materials and the like?
Frankly, there’s no fixed concept in AQ. It can be serious, and sometimes sarcastic. The inspiration mostly comes from my surroundings, how I view people, movies, music and art daily. My main inspiration comes from hardcore punk music and the skateboarding scene, those saved my life.
I also like to watch sci-fi movies, scroll through Nat Geo magazines that I buy from the Sunday Market (Loken), and read short poems. With that, I cut and paste to make a collages and randomly form my own quotes about life from my perspective.
In your own words, can you describe what the brand's aesthetic and creative direction are? Why have you chosen to go down this route?
Mainly the creative direction is based on everything around me. My actions could make someone hurt, sad, happy and change into all different kind of emotions. AQ is a Mind Altering Drug, an escape for those who need them. That’s the reason why I chose to follow this route.
What do you wish for Almost Quaint's fashion to convey?
AQ stands by a quote the Joker said in the movie ‘The Dark Knight’, “It’s not about money... its about sending the message”. If I can’t tell the people using my voice, I’ll send them the messages through my brand.
Can you share with us some ways today's youth can be more unapologetic in the ways they can express themselves?
There’s always a way to express yourself in unapologetic ways. For me, I try to twist meanings by using the different words in the message. It’s like when you're joking ironically around with your friends. Here’s an example that I got from the late P Ramlee’s joke, "Beautiful isn’t it, like the Devil", you can see how he expresses the feelings there.
Who is the team behind Almost Quaint?
It’s just me and all my friends who supported me from day one. Shout out to all of you. You know who you are!
What do you want customers to feel when they wear Almost Quaint apparel?
Nothing. I just want their money. JOKES. [laughs] I really want them to get the message behind the brand and feel proud when they put on.
Who and/or what are your sources of inspiration?
I like how Jason Dill works. Brian Kanagaki is also one of my inspiration for my works. I love to see old gig flyers or old advertisements in magazine as they have always inspired me.
AQ is a Mind Altering Drug, an escape for those who need them.
What has been your most significant project thus far and why?
It's actually something that is still in the works! Right now AQ has been focusing on new collaborations with buddies from Fortranquility. Long story short, we discussed about collaborating for years now and this might be the best collaboration yet. Stay tuned!
We love that you are dabbling into things other than fashion such as your 'Pendosa' documentary. What are some important things Almost Quaint seeks to explore as a brand in their works?
Thank you! Shout out to PBUY for the collaboration. There’s so much thing to explore as a brand, its not only about apparel, I try to dig in to other things such as films and music as well.
What is one message the youth of today need to hear?
Money, if worshipped, may lead to violence, ruin and death. Also listen to your parents. They’re mean, but they love you.
Lastly, what are Almost Quaint's goals and visions for 2021 and beyond?
The goals and vision for 2021, is to maybe open up a shop and continue to live as usual. More collaboration soon too if possible.