JADEN & DARREN, as interviewed by Fashion Content Creator, ASHA FARISHA
The younger generation, colloquially known as Gen Z, embraces fashion so much more as the first digital natives—if they are given a safe space to do so. Taman Paramount, the short stretch of Jalan 20/13 precisely, became a spot for the “cool fashion kids” even with only two thrift stores—Del’cs and Fifth. Take a walk down the street you will spot people in their gym suits with bejewelled Crocs, or flip-flops paired with ornated umbrellas. The free rein, however, comes with a price. The internet mocks the glitterati: ostentatious, misfits, outlandish, or so they say.
We see that as an inevitable phase in every fashion decade, but the knotty question is: who will take the baton? It’s not a novelty, but impressive nonetheless to witness how the presence of Fifth is capable of articulating identities and eventually shaping a subculture. As the first thrift store in the row to open its doors, bringing the smorgasbord of quirks into an old-school residential suburb, that itself is a risk, let
alone turning it into a safe hub for young fashion enthusiasts.
The founders of Fifth, Darren and Jaden, sat down with Asha Farisha, a prominent TikTok fashion creator who speaks the Gen-Z lingua, to talk about being a fashion risk-taker from the Z-ers’ point of view.
ASHA FARISHA (AF): How did Fifth start?
JADEN (J): I first met Darren and another partner at Taman Paramount. Now it’s just the two of us left, running Fifth.
AF: At a thrift store? Were there even any at Taman Paramount back then?
J: Not physical thrift stores but we met at fashion pop-ups and eventually decided to start our own space.
AF: Are you more of a creative or a business person?
J: Initially, I’d consider myself a creative person, but now I’m leaning towards the business side. I never thought I’d like anything numbers-related.
AF: Would you consider yourself a fashion risktaker?
J: Yes. As a queer, dressing is a way to express myself. There are stereotypes of how a guy should look or what they should be wearing. To be honest, I was sceptical at first, I was scared.
AF: Especially in Malaysia.
J: Yes, that is risk-taking. I haven’t gotten myself into any trouble yet fortunately, I guess it’s the people I surround myself with. It’s not that I’m completely fearless, but I just shrugged it off gradually.
AF: Speaking of stereotypes, what are some you hate?
J: I don’t like the fixed idea of the “right” way to wear a certain garment.
AF: As in gendered clothes?
J: Yes. Dressing up gives you confidence, not the other way around. I don’t see why we should dress to impress and adhere to perceptions.
DARREN (D): For me, it’s not a stereotype but how there’s a lack of experimentation. They are pigeonholed, if their first fashion exposure was in 2014, they will stick to it.
AF: There are memes and assumptions that labelled the “Taman Paramount Kid” as “over the top”. Any thoughts?
D: The stereotype and the criticism is true. But that is merely a fragment of the whole story. Most of the
judgements come from people who have never stepped foot in the area.
AF: As one of the few who is responsible for the burgeon, which specified critique do you agree or disagree with?
J: Saying the people are not friendly is something I don’t agree with. But yes, we do dress a certain way. It’s very diverse here though, not everyone is decked in “Y2K” as presumed.
AF: Was it accidental, in becoming someone who created that safe space?
J: We always wanted it to be a community. I think the people who visited made the picture fuller. The
environment affects how one dresses.
AF: What are your thoughts on Gen Z’s take on fashion?
J: The generation got “shit on” a lot. There are people who follow trends closely, and it’s fine. Trends is an excuse to try new things.
AF: As a Gen Z yourself, what do you think differentiates the Gen Z from other groups?
J: We have a safer setting to experiment and explore thanks to our predecessors.
D: Generally speaking, Gen Z tends to look into subculture trends. The other groups are more comfortable with a uniform set of fashion choices.
AF: That’s very true. Something about Gen Z you disagree?
J: Blindly following the celebrities or influencers. We could embrace our individuality rather than aping to look like someone else.
AF: Do you have any words for people who want to be fashion risk-takers?
J: Be on social media more. There’s nothing wrong with liking what you like regardless of the genre. Just refrain from overconsuming. Explore yes, but in a sustainable and smart way.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHUAN LOOI (YIPIEYAYA STUDIO)
CREATIVE DIRECTION IAN LOH
ART DIRECTION SHANE ROHAIZAD
STYLED BY SARAH CHONG
HAIR JUNO KO
MAKEUP KF BONG
This article was first published in the print edition of Grazia Malaysia September 2023.