You Will Want To Wear This T-Shirt To Show What It Is To Be Malaysian And Be You!

A T-shirt that says ‘MALAYSIAN’ and include any caption to define yourself as one, how cool is that?

With that combination, T-shirt startup, One Nation Fits All, has done an amazing job of combining issues of unity and personality together for a T-shirt design that boasts our country, nationality, and personality.

With tags such as 'Malaysian: Too Panas To Handle', 'Malaysian: 5 Minutes Late', and 'Malaysian: Mat Bond', the designers have also introduced a unique twist of the brand by capturing on the spirit of Star Wars with unique Star Wars puns ('Malaysian: Aku Bapak Kau', anyone?).

With the motto ‘that no action is too small to serve as a symbol of unity', Malaysian Digest spoke with Shaikh Shahnaz Karim and Marvan Cheong - founders of the brand, and the guys that run it all, who shared what inspired them to create this potentially viral T-shirt.

“The idea came about somewhere in mid-August, where we were celebrating the whole 50th anniversary and looking into the state of the nation and the idea came from there,” Shahnaz tells MD.

"We don’t really have a T-shirt, like the 'I Love KL' for us to give to someone who comes to our country.

“Even Indonesia has one, ‘I Love Indonesia’, and Vietnam has their red shirt with a yellow star design.

"So, we wanted to find something that was the corporate identity of Malaysia, and especially looking at how there are a lot of issues between the races in our country."

Shahnaz then goes ahead to talk about what being a Malaysian is, and how we have to embrace the differences each of us have on what it means to be one.

"That's when the idea came about to be proud wearing something that shows that you are Malaysian.

"We wanted Malaysians to describe themselves the way Malaysians want to describe themselves. We have so many talents in this country but sometimes what is more important than their talent or interest is their race.

"There's always a part that's linked to their race when we talk about someone. Demoralising criticisms can demolish any and all genuine talent when race is brought into someone’s achievements especially when they have worked hard.

"So, the idea of the T-shirt came up, to allow people to embrace everyone's quirkiness, likes and dislikes, and that's what makes this country beautiful. The more we can embrace each other's personality and likes, the more we become unified," he explained.

What does it mean to be unified in Malaysia? For Shahnaz he draws up the example of X-Men, where the titular characters of Xavier and Magneto, who are enemies with very different ideas of the world, can sit down over chess and talk things through.

"Love all serve all, learning from Hard Rock Cafe and where they come from, that’s the best way to show your action towards unity. Nothing cannot be solved after sitting down and after 'teh tarik'. I can't find anyone in this country who does not like teh tarik.

"We know we have our differences, and uncertain strong opinions about other things. But can't we still sit down and have a cup of coffee and be friends with each other? Or do we have to go all the way and be divided?

"You may like Star Wars, and I may like Star Trek, you may like Christmas more than Raya, but we can still embrace these differences and stand together.

"That's why we encourage people to put anything they want on their T-shirt  to see how people react to it. Chances are you'll find someone who can relate to it," he added.

The duo then went on to describe how someone with the caption ‘Sambal Petai Lover’ boards a train and meets someone with a similar caption, but with the words ‘Petai Eater’, and how a connection was instantly made.

Turning to Marvan, we asked what has been the most popular caption thus far.

"The coolest one was from a French girl, she wrote ‘I am French, but not stupid’.

"There’s also been 'Bacon Whisperer', 'Char Siu Specialist', 'Chew Bak Wa', and even a family whose daughter wanted to be designated as 'The Princess', but the dad was like 'No, I’m the King'.

"So, in the end the parents are 'King and Queen' and all the children have their shirts labeled as ‘I’m your Slave’.

"We also had 'Malaysian: 20 Minutes Late','Tunggu Sekejap, On The Way', 'Just Around The Corner'. 'Malaysian: For Five Years' for the expat who had to leave Malaysia after working here.

"We also had Christmas orders for an office and everyone got something unique and personalised. If you think about it, it's user generated," he quipped.

Sure enough, the tees make a great corporate gift, where thoughts and a little bit of knowledge of the other person are needed to write the captions, as opposed to giving generic gifts. And with the freedom to caption yourself, the options sure are tantalising.

"The most interesting thing is that people find it very daunting to find a caption. It's interesting to see how Malaysians are seeing their self-identify. The T-shirt is a statement, where you put about the country that you like, and the person that you are," Marvan adds.

Shahnaz added:

"I started this with a guy called Peter Gan. When we first made the T-shirt, I wrote for him the caption ‘Malaysian Legend’. And this is what he made for me (Aishah’s husband)," he held up the T-shirt and laughed.

"Also the two of us thought that people would write something nasty on the shirt, something political. And this is where we were so happy to be wrong. It turns out that 'Obi-1MDB' has been the only one so far," he thankfully said.

Malaysianizing Star Wars

With the Star Wars film booming, and the upcoming Superman Vs Batman movie, One Nation Fits All had capitalised on it's popularity.

"We told people Malaysianize their Star Wars captions and we got quotes like 'Hang Solo' and 'Chew Bakar' and from there, we decided to open up a Star Wars version of the shirt," Shahnaz recounts.

For them, their Star Wars captions are: 'Ambassador Of The Jedi Council', 'Hang Solo', and 'Set Phasers To Neutral' (a pun to Star Trek).

We asked why Star Wars, and what can we learn about unity from Star Wars?

“A lot of people were commenting on how Finn, the hero, was a black character. So, he got a lot of flak for that from the public. I like his response, which is ‘You have aliens with 5 eyes, people with 3 heads, Jabba the Hut, you don't care about them, but you care about me because of my colour’.

"Guess, that's something we all can learn about. We have people from around the world acting in Star Wars who have applied to become extras, you can see how there’s unity in that movie."

Awarding Everyday Heroes

Shahnaz has dreamt that the T-shirt incorporates holiday themes and colours, from Chinese New Year to the next Batman Vs Superman movie, making a jumper and sleeveless version for the ladies and furthermore, awarding the T-shirt to people who do heroic-worthy deeds.

"The other thing we see is that we have a lot of beautiful stories by Malaysian citizens, such as the bomba (firefighter) who rescued someone who wanted to commit suicide...we want to highlight these people and give them this T-shirt with a caption, such as ‘Abang Terror Sado’, to acknowledge them.

"Also, the honest mechanic who will charge only RM5 for a broken wire, or an elderly person who always saves stray cats.

"We want people to write in to us and we want to go and give these people the T-shirts."

He recounts the story of Amber Chia’s shirt, which was written ‘Original Guess Girl’ because she was Malaysia’s first Guess girl when she started. The shirt serves as a humble reminder for herself and she has inspired many in her contributions to society.

He then shared that his dreams of going further, and into the sporting pitches.

"I hope one day this T-shirt becomes the official T-shirt of Malaysia. My dream is that when we host the SEA Games 2017 in KL, it will be nice if our athletes get to wear these customised T-shirts, perhaps the football team manager could give a caption to all the players, which will be worn before they start playing. At least people will know more about them. I also imagine the swimmers, before going into the pool, wearing this T-shirt."

Get Your Personalised #onenationfitsall T-Shirts Now!

Shahnaz ends the interview with a VIP buyer just the other weekend.

"Last weekend, we opened up a booth at Bangsar Village, and turns out that it was Najib’s brother, the CIMB Group CEO Nazir Razak who turns up and my colleague here didn’t recognise him. The next day Nazir called him about the T-shirts.

"We're so anxious about getting orders from VIPs! I remember one of the caption was 'Freedom Fighter', but he was buying it as a gift, we suspect."

One Nation Fits All are running an online contest as of now and a T-shirt costs RM50, including shipping fees. It comes with a unique eco-friendly box set. Buying five T-shirts entitles you to one free T-shirt.

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