Innersejuk is not a foreign name for hijab-wearing women in Malaysia. The label has positioned itself in the local modest fashion industry as the leading and inclusive activewear brand.
The word ‘Innersejuk’ speaks for itself as the technology used by the brand in its clothing line proves that it is committed to providing the best quality material for the comfort of its customers.
“Our brand purpose at Innersejuk is to empower women to make the choices that empower them. Be it in the active lifestyle, in the kind of sports they participate or in the choice of modesty. Our product is inclusive and doesn’t discriminate, and so should we. Everyone is welcome to wear Innersejuk,” said Airaz Technologies Sdn Bhd (Innersejuk) CEO Azrul Izzam.
“Traditionally, sportswear for Muslim women was an afterthought: no proper R&D, no marketing, no innovation. We needed to find a solution to a problem for almost 500 million women across the globe.
“A hijab that kept them cool, without sacrificing the aesthetics.
“It took us five years, 1000 focus interviews and 37 prototypes before we created “Inner Sejuk”. And after all that trial and error, we developed our very own material that every hijab had to have for it to be successful.
“The material is called Drichill Technology. It’s a premium material that we design with our fabric manufacturing partner.”
He added there were some ‘athletic innerwear’ options in the market. However, they often came in unflattering and awful colours and designs.
The brand was also quick to change its business strategy when the pandemic hit the world in 2020. Innersejuk took the outbreak as an opportunity and quickly adapted to the changes that suited its business operation.
“We quickly pivoted our production plan from the innerwear and hijab to an essential item which is the fabric face mask. We sold more than two million masks up to this date. The strategy was to recognise opportunity, mobilise our manufacturing, and enable our employees to work effectively from home.
“Alhamdulillah, we managed to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19 and ensure our business continuity during these trying times.”
Whilst people may opine that the market seems saturated, Azrul believes there is a massive untapped opportunity for modest fashion in the country.
“The opportunities to expand into the international market are always there. The modest wear world that the Innersejuk brand lives in is at the intersection of sportswear and lifestyle wear.
“We are barely scratching the surface with different styles and innovations, especially in the modest sportswear category. It is our blue ocean!”
Azrul made it clear that customers were always at the forefront of the brand. He revealed that Innersejuk products were designed with these people in mind, considering their likes, dislikes, preferences, and how the product helps solve their problems.
“Look at our under scarves for an example; it’s the coolest material for “anak tudung” that is antimicrobial and a perfect fit for every shape and size. The feedback that we’ve received from the customers is that it doesn’t smell, doesn’t give them headaches and stays on all day.
“Malaysian brands are poised for growth in modest and halal fashion, especially with the growing interest in the category. We see more brands start to explore their unique aesthetic shoulder by the consumer preference and confidence in the local brand.
“Our homegrown brands have been quite successful in merging a plethora of cultures and tastes to meet the customer’s demand.
“Anyone looking for ways to spend their resources or invest in the correct modest fashion, could always turn to any Malaysian brand with the right ingredients for their taste.
“And, especially for those looking for modest sportswear, look no further because we understand the needs and wants of our audience that translates to the best product design and quality to boost.”
Challenges in modest fashion industry
Addressing the challenges faced by the players, Azrul shared the pandemic had shifted the landscapes for the fashion industry at the global level. Brands must be more sustainable and agile in the product development process.
“We foresee this will slowly trickle down to our region. And how climate change will further propel us to think differently and be more conscious of the material we choose and how we do our business.
“Hence, Innersejuk will be more proactive in tackling the disruption in the supply chain from our fabric to our manufacturing and delivering the end product to customers.
“For a local brand like us to expand further and penetrate the global market, we are going to look at a rapid manufacturing process to meet the demand on time, plus collaborating with the right international and shipping partner that’ll help us keep the cost-competitive.
“We can be more competitive than another global modest wear player even when we raise our cost to value ratio when we solve the issue of supply chain and shipping.
“Some of us are hurting due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. The restriction intends to curb the spread, but we are saying that misery loves company. It’s better if the brands work to solve the issue together,” said Azrul, emphasising that supply chain and shipping aren’t a one brand issue.
He also highlighted that Malaysian brands going into the global halal market need to understand the Muslim diaspora. The most viable market for these brands will be in Europe, North America, Oceania, and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region.
“The question that we are asking ourselves is how do we make the hijab lifestyle cool while staying true to their culture and religion. It’s the billion-dollar question we are trying to answer.”
Innersejuk as a premium brand
Innersejuk went into the market in 2017. Made from premium quality, the people behind the brand knew that the products offered by Innersejuk were better than every other brand out there, but they needed people to try them. The team then decided to sponsor a few sports teams, influencers and celebrities who were into sports.
“Sales picked up, and in our first year, we sold RM1.2 million worth of clothes,” shared Azrul.
“The struggle for us was to take that first leap, knowing when to pivot and the right balance between perfection and moving forward. We are lucky that we have the right talent that propels us forward, and despite being a high-performance team, all of us leave the ego at the door.”
According to Azrul, Innersejuk is the personification and the embodiment of every woman out there who wants to feel empowered in making the life choices they want based on their life purpose.
“Every day, anywhere in this world, women make tough choices in life. Be in what they do or what they wear. At Innersejuk, we want them to feel comfortable, confident and empowered to choose how they want to lead their lives and what they wear. Because the right to choose without being judged belongs to all.”
Azrul said Innersejuk aimed to become the champion of modest fashion. It wants to make Malaysia the centre of the modest fashion industry moving forward.