Nobat: Weaving Malaysian Culture One Bag At A Time
Nobat is a new up-and-coming local brand established in July 2020. It doesn't take long for one to guess their specialty, though. With their expert craftmanship and eye for detail, they've quickly developed their own signature look of carriers, totes and custom bags that echo the diversity of Malay culture. Below we talk to the brand on the importance of preserving tradition, how they approach gender in fashion and more.
What is the story behind Nobat and the name you have chosen?
The word Nobat is inspired from historical royal instruments. We thought to ourselves, "Why not use something from the past and give it a modern look for our brand?"
We love the distinct patterns your bag designs have. Can you share with us your thoughts behind the look and designs of your products such as the various sizes, colours, patterns and the like?
We got this idea of starting the oversized tote bag because we feel like they're quite hard to find and we personally love the idea behind it. Working in the fashion industry ourselves, we tend to have a lot of things to carry e.g notebooks, material samples, clothing samples and more. From there, it inspired us to create something fashionable but also convenient. Of course we had to ask opinions from our friends and families about what they thought of it, and the outcome of it was pretty good, thankfully!
One of your campaigns was called 'Bertijant' which is a combination of 'betina' and 'jantan', signifying the unisex nature of your bags. Can you share with us why is it important for Nobat to create androgynous products?
We want both genders to be able to style our bags; we do not want to portray that gender bias. Fashion is not a barrier for both boys and girls, so we make it as neutral as possible.
How do you usually decide the theme for your product campaigns? Trends are so important to catch up on nowadays. Looking at the generation now, with the influence of Tiktok especially, we find it really interesting to be jumping on the bandwagon and see what there is to offer.
From there we would come up with something that's "in". Moreover, our theme, campaigns, name of the bags are all inspired by old Malay cultures. We would want to bring it back so that people will not forget those generations who were here before us. Our aim is to focus on Malay origins through our products.
What is Nobat's creative direction and approach? We want to appear as a brand that is unique and out of the box. Our designs are all handmade and the "anyaman" (weavings) are very detailed, and we want each and every bag made to be and feel special for our customers. Our approach has always been to restore the old Malay legacy using kain batik, kain peklekat and the like.
How do you make sure to strike a good balance between aesthetics and functionality? Without a doubt its functionality over aesthetics, but why not combine both? Without a well-designed bag, your users might not take your business seriously and forget about it. We want to be able to "wow" our audience with the concept that we came up with. As mentioned earlier, we want to be fashionable, but we also want to produce something that would give convenience to our audience as well; that's the ultimate goal.
What has been the biggest milestone for your brand so far and why? We would say our biggest achievement was when we dropped the "Bertijant" collection. We sold over 200++ pieces from August 2020 till now. It may not be a big number, but for a small startup business like us, we were honestly over the moon! We got some big names who purchased from us and to be seen by them excites us.
How are your products sourced and made? We are proud to say that all of our materials and bag makers are locally sourced. #MALAYSIABOLEH
Fashion is not a barrier for both boys and girls, so we make it as neutral as possible.
What are the top 3 factors people should identify to purchase a good quality bag? 1) Material - We always strive to bring the best quality to our customers. Better material means longer durability which is something we always take into consideration when producing the bags.
2) Design - Of course, a bag still has to look fashionable, right?
3) Functionality - Fashion or convenience? Some people may look for the latter or the former, it's really up to you what you want out of the products you purchase!
Lastly, what are Nobat's goals and visions as a brand?
Our goal is just like all the other brands: we want to be known by Malaysians. We want people to be able to see our bags on the streets and say, "Hey, I know that bag it's from Nobat!'" Our signature would be the "anyaman" style and we want to be known as the Anyaman Bag Makers in Malaysia. We envision our brand to have our own stand-alone store (one can dream).
We're still new in the market, and there are things that we have to learn along the way. There will be obstacles along the way definitely, but you have keep your head up high. Our goal in the long run is to be able to expand to the international market. We believe that our design is unique and has the chance to succeed in the future.