NEW YORK, Oct 31 (NNN-Bernama) -- New York-based Malaysian fashion icon ZangToi who has built up a very visible brand name in the upper-end fashion arena in the United States (US), has benefited from a strong US economy which boosted his fashion business.

In an interview with Bernama in New York, an upbeat Toi was quite pleased with his sales which posted a sharp increase in the spring quarter of 2019 � US fashion designers calculate the sales of their products created for the next season � over the spring quarter of 2018.

He said the increased demand, fuelled by tax cuts instituted by the Trump administration, had bolstered his sales.

I have recorded a 100 per cent increase in orders received for the Spring 2019 season over the Spring 2018 season, noted the pride of the east Malaysian state of Kelantan.

Indeed, Toi spoke of getting repeat orders for his upper-end fashion creations which are his niche. I received good orders from my clientele, including an order from a female billionaire who ordered a high-end sweater in eight variations.

He also spoke about his latest fashion show organised during the recent New York Fashion Week which he said, paid homage to Yves Saint Laurent and recreated all his favourite designs.

The main colour of my creations for this show was the Marrakesh colourI was in Marrakesh (Morocco) where I visited the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. I selected his favouritecoloursbrilliant shades of blue and green. That was the opening of my fashion show. There were 30 different designs in various colours, all of which were displayed in less than 20 minutes, the celebrated Malaysian fashion designer observed.

Toi is also diversifying his line of products. Though he will continue with his main high-end product line, he is also entering into hitherto unchartered waters and is launching his much-discussed Boutique Collection which is one-third of the price of his signature collection and which, in his view, has been well-received in the market.

I am testing the waters and find that new lower-end products are also well received in the market. We are also entering an entirely new product line, he said.

Toi, who entered into a collaboration with the Papyrus greeting card company two years ago, has renewed the contract with Papyrus for another three years until 2021.

Some 600,000 cards carrying the ZangToi brand name were sold in 18 months. The cards are displayed in my boutique and are sold in big stores such as Walmart, Walgreens, etc. and are doing well, he said.

The fashion market is bullish as far as the upper-end fashion products are concerned.

The wealthy buyers are shopping, again, thanks to the strong economy. Though this falls outside my business orbit, low-end products are also doing well. However, in my personal view, the medium-level products face a challenging time. This is because there is fierce competition in this segment and also because there is nothing unique about the styles offered in this particular product category. All the products look, more or less, the same. This is not what the consumers want. They want uniqueness, Toi said.

Meanwhile, there has recently been a series of appearances in New York by budding Malaysian fashion designers who have been trying to enter the international markets with their creations.

Asked whether he would like to impart any practical advice to new Malaysian fashion designers wanting to make a mark in the international fashion world � a number of these designers have exhibited their products in local shows and also displayed them in some local stores In New York � Toi advised them to hone their creative skills and emphasise uniqueness in their designs.

Don't copy fashion designs coming from Milan, Paris and other places. Uniqueness is very important in fashion designing originality is key to success.

You must charter your own path and not copy others. Hard work is another key to success. Be prepared to work 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

That's challenging but it can also be rewarding and give you the much-needed international breakthrough, noted the fashion legend with the Midas touch.