Melinda Looi designs now in Sogo Southkey


I arrived at the Ladies Department in Sogo Department Store in Mid Valley Southkey to join the ladies browsing around the Mell by Melinda Looi garments and paused when I saw her chatting with a couple of them.


Mell by Melinda Looi now in Sogo 
Department Store, Mid Valley Southkey JB

Distinguished by her curly locks, this multi-award-winning Malaysian fashion designer had neatly plaited her hair from the forehead while her signature hair floated like a halo around her smiling face.


It was significant that Melinda Looi is collaborating with Sogo Department Store in Mid Valley Southkey and her Mell line of designs is now available here in Johor Baru.


When I saw that her conversation with the ladies had ended, I approached her to welcome her and her designs to Johor Baru.


Melinda Looi with Nora [Left]
and Idah [Right] at the event
It was not every day that an award-winning fashion designer came to present her ready-to-wear designs and it was my privilege to welcome this Kuala Lumpur-based designer to our city.


I glanced at the Mell collection of garments and observed that she was in fact, wearing pieces from this collection matched with a blouse (I later learnt!) from her Melinda Looi Couture line. 


Melinda Looi has three brands, Couture, Pret-a-Porter and Mell, that cater to the tastes of both, local and international markets.


Her outfit showed us that the Mell by Melinda Looi range is affordable designer-wear, wearable daily and not too formal or limited to only special occasions.


“Colours make you happy and bring a spark into your life,” declared Looi who believes that ladies who made an effort to groom themselves, not only looked good but will also feel good.


The effervescent Melinda Looi at the
reception table for the event

Since the Mell collection opened for sale in Sogo that day, she was delighted that several pieces were already sold.


True to her avant-garde and vintage style, this collection featured colours that ranged from pastel shades to bright and bold neon prints, made in fabrics that are suitable for our tropical climate.


This collection included skirts and dresses of modest lengths as well as cropped tops that featured Chinese collars in an ageless style.


Looi did in fact, grow up with a firm foundation in fashion and fabrics, in a family who was involved with a business in tailoring and sewing garments for local department store brands.


A section of the pop-up store in
the Ladies Department of Sogo Mid Valley

Since she was an eight-year-old child, she was roped in to sew buttons before she progressed to cutting fabric and sewing.


Looi admitted with a laugh that she hated school holidays – and even volunteered to stay back to help in school (but her teacher said, “No!”) – because during the holidays, she was duty-bound to work in the family’s garment factory.


Her father was a pioneer in operating the pleating machine and when she was tall enough, Looi stood alongside her father to operate this machine. This job from morning to night, was probably how she learnt to be on her feet for such long hours.


A Mell design on the mannequin
Her interest in fashion led her to complete her studies at the La Salle Institute of Design in Kuala Lumpur. The turning point for her was when she won the Malaysia Young Designer Award in 1995.


The prize for this award was a scholarship to study at the La Salle School of Fashion in Montreal, Canada.


Her stint abroad was an eye-opening experience where she gained deeper insights into the rich culture and ethnic diversity of people worldwide, which helped her better appreciate the wealth of beauty in our Malaysian community.


While she was in Canada in 1997, Looi won the White Creation Award, an ASEAN Designer Award, as well as the Winter Wedding Dress Contest.


Another section of the Mell
pop-up store in Sogo

When she returned to Malaysia in 1998, she worked in her parents’ business for a year before she ventured out on her own and formed Mellooi Creation in 2000.


Drawing upon her vast experience while she worked with designer brands and fashion houses in Canada, and applying her inspiration from Malaysian culture and ethnic heritage, she started her own couture and ready-to-wear fashion lines.


While Mellooi had built a strong international network of partners and suppliers which contributed to the brand’s leading position and presence regionally, Looi remains down-to-earth, with a hands-on work attitude in spite of her success.


It was rather mind-boggling that I was having this friendly chit-chat with Looi, Malaysia’s representative for World Fashion Week held in Paris, France in 2014.


In fact, she has represented Malaysia with her traditional yet modern creations in the Islamic Fashion Festivals held in Jakarta, London, New York, Monte Carlo, Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur.


With Melinda Looi at Sogo Mid Valley Southkey

This came as no surprise as Looi was recognised as Designer of the Year, Malaysia International Fashion Week, in 2004 and 2006. And in 2009, she was again awarded the Designer of the Year, Mercedes Benz Stylo Fashion Awards, in Kuala Lumpur.


Her list of awards and accolades continued to grow over the years and in 2013, Looi was honoured as the winner in the “Great Women of our Time” Awards.


One for the album

Looi, a single-mother of four children – two boys and two girls aged from 9 to 18 – aims to bring them up to be independent individuals who work hard to earn what they wanted.


Since young, Looi saw her parents working hard to earn a living and after their retirement, her brother continued to operate their family business.


Looi, who clearly worked hard to achieve local and international recognition said, “Nothing comes easy!” in a knowing way as she was speaking from her experience.


Looking back, Looi considers her greatest achievement in her career was in having a loyal team, many of whom have been with her since the business started 23 years ago.   


To her, sustainable fashion means the ability to sustain the craft, as in the skills to cut fabric and sew garments, valuable craftsmanship that were fast disappearing in our modern community.


Her advice to fashion consumers was simply to, “Buy quality and buy less!”


Melinda Looi and Sogo Department Store 
representatives declared the pop-up store open
Then the Mell by Melinda Looi pop-up store in the Ladies Department was declared open in a simple ceremony by Looi and Sogo Department Store representatives.


Encouraged by the warm reception, Looi was pleased to announce that the Mell by Melinda Looi collection will be available at Sogo Mid Valley Southkey initially for four months to meet demand in the coming festive seasons.


Mell by Melinda Looi is in the Ladies Department, located on Level One of Sogo Department Store, Mid Valley Southkey Johor Baru.


For more info on Melinda Looi designs, visit website:

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