Rebel With A Cause: Founders of ‘Fifth’, Jaden and Darren On Being New Gen Fashion Risktakers

Meet the local fashion risk-takers championing freedom of self-expression, standing in the vanguard of the IDGAF war.
left YUAN, Top, Skirt right TALENT’S OWN, Top, Shoes YUAN, Trousers

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.


This article was first published in the print edition of Grazia Malaysia September 2023.