Dreams do come true

By Danielle Ringgit



Designer Calvin Mikeng

CALVIN Mikeng has always been interested in fashion design.  He has loved drawing since his school days and even then most of his sketches were clothes, so much so he remembered joking with his friend that maybe he could design her wedding dress someday.


Little did he know then that he would be designing his way into the fashion world.


Growing up, Calvin always aspired to be a designer and have his designs be recognised and seen in the public eye. He finally got his first big break when he was approached by Sylvia Tremas of Gem Events Sdn Bhd and Panggau Singai Crew (PSC) a few months ago.


Intrigued and amazed by his designs, they encouraged him to join the Gem Sarawak Ethic Contemporary Fashion & Exhibition Show 2013(Gem SECFE 2013) that was held Dec 14, 2013.


That night Calvin dazzled the audience with his designs which he managed to pull off in only a month. With his design concept based on Sarawak tribal motif blended with a  modern lines, Calvin’s collection can be described as wearable, conservative, elegant, sophisticated and timeless.


Calvin and models during Gem SECFE 2013.

ETHNIC, YET MODERN: Calvin and models during Gem SECFE 2013.


But, it has not always been easy for this new, talented and self-deprecating designer. With no formal background in fashion, the self-taught 31-year-old is actually an educator with English being his major subject.


Although his passion is in fashion design, Calvin did not tell anybody (even his parents) about his dream of becoming a fashion designer. He was afraid they might not have approved due to the belief that there are no career prospects in fashion design.



FROM PRODUCTION TO THE CATWALK: Calvin Mikeng Collection during Gem SECFE 2013: The tribal mermaid

FROM PRODUCTION TO THE CATWALK: Calvin’s sketches (left) and the realised design (right) of  an elegant mermaid evening gown.



Like any concerned parents who want a secure future for their children, they insisted that he take up education as his career path.


But Calvin was surprised that his mother and aunts were greatly supportive of his work once they found out about his involvement in the fashion show. What completely caught him off guard was when they reprimanded him for not asking for their help as they are both seamstresses.


Admitting that he had a late start in the fashion world, Calvin said that this does not diminish his passion but rather as a blessing in disguise: being older has made him more mature, wiser and more knowledgeable. He has taken every critique on his work as a challenge and a way to upgrade himself.


As a teacher, Calvin said that educating has always been his number one priority and education is important as a starting point for anybody regardless of their backgrounds. He is also constantly encouraging his students to pursue their dream and really go for it.


Determined to pursue his own dream, Calvin plans to take sewing lessons to improve his skills and is constantly looking for new ideas and inspiration from fashion magazines and journals.


Citing Victoria Beckham, Bernard Chandran and Vera Wang as his inspiration, Calvin said that he was also inspired by designers who do not come from a designing background as it is impressive how they managed to pursue their dreams.


Seeing people appreciating and admiring his designs has fuelled his determination to pursue his dream. After all, the main reason he designs dresses is to make people feel beautiful and happy when wearing it.

In the near future, Calvin hopes to introduce his line of collection as well as promote Sarawak heritage through fashion.



FOR MEN AND WOMEN: (From left) Calvin’s latest design for women and menswear collection

FOR MEN AND WOMEN: (From left) Calvin’s latest women and menswear designs.


As of now, he is designing for both men and women’s clothing. Staying true to his Bidayuh heritage, he is now working on designing clothes based on Bidayuh traditional clothes and accessories such as ‘pangiah’, a traditional beaded necklace.


Calvin also wishes to honour his late father’s legacy and memory by bringing pride to the Mikeng family name. His father sadly passed away five years ago.


Calvin advises anybody pursuing their dreams, regardless of their backgrounds or interests to get a proper education first and never give up on your dreams. For all you know, dreams can come true.


To know more about Calvin Mikeng Collection, visit: https://www.facebook.com/calvinmikengcollection

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