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THAILAND’S DESIGNERS TO WATCH / PART I

No matter where the mama of “Drag Queen” goes, the famed singer and international fashion inspirer, Lady Gaga always stirs a bit of local fervor, so to speak. First was an expression to purchase a fake Birkin on the street of Hong Kong and then a controversial tweet when she landed in Bangkok that tarnished Thailand’s image as a place of fake Rolex.

The fact is Thailand is notoriously known for its fake goods for almost two decades, not only among Asian travelers but also European and American bag backers. From street vendors that lure budgeted travelers to self-acclaimed “The Pride of Bangkok”, an ultimate 5-star shopping destination, Siam Paragon that targets lucrative shopper from the rich Middle East region. Thailand has what it takes to become the next fashion capital city of Asian in its same league with New York, Paris & Milan.

But, weren’t these fancy dreams an unsuccessful attempt after all? Remember that Stefani has millions of followers who at least have another hundreds of friend following. So, the viral effect here plays a critical role in de-promoting the tender fashion industry of Thailand.

To prove it, I have sneered into Google and in a matter of seconds received over million results from my initial key search: “Bangkok Shopping”. I wasn’t doubtful at all when sub-sites escorted me to MBK, often known as Mahboonkrong, an old air-conditioned mall that allowed electronic gadget savvy bargain the price or European bag backers find Thai traditional souvenirs.

Now, it is in the fourth paragraph of my story, I hope you have realized what I am trying to say. It is about FAKE stuffs in Bangkok. But as promised, neither my main objective nor duty is to give vindication. Undeniably, Thai designers are, in my opinion, the most promising talents in Asia whom Korean fashion savvy will soon find their next crush.

Quirky, creative & very Thai, the simple three words popped up in my head when I began writing this story. I am myself not a fashion maven, but a desperate Business student who found himself amazed by the bustling energy of Thai designers. Ever had a chance to attend Bangkok International Fashion Week, I truly admired their effort in ensuring every stich looks perfect.

Just a couple months ago, I was drooling when finding an intriguing tweet that originated from a translated local newspaper saying the US-based publishing conglomerate: Conde Nast is entering Thailand by the launch of its flagship title, VOGUE THAILAND in early 2013.

About two days ago, I was reading my daily Women’s Wear Daily newspaper and the headline of MANGO fashion award this year was given to Mr. Wisharawish Akarasantisook, a Thai design student who brought home with him 300, 000 EURO in cash and most importantly a ticket to embark his journey as a fashion entrepreneur in the rising-staged of Fashion Industry in Thailand.

In a city notoriously famous for its fake goods and leading high-street fashion chains are in queue ready to lure rising middle and upper-middle income shoppers, to have 300,000 EURO in cash to launch your fashion venture is challenging, yet a dream for most young Thai designers.

During my recent visit to Jatujak (Weekend Market), a twice-a-week market where I had spoken with a few young fashions design students who are unfortunate to afford the sky-rocking renting fees in the city’s commercial districts like Siam Square, Siam Paragon or Siam Center. Having a dream of exposing their creative creations is impossible. However, their big passion for fashion has kept them settled here in a 20-sqm2 boutique to nurture their dreams to start up a small fashion venture.

It is quite a contrast when I paid a day-long visit wandering around the city‘s central commercial district, Ratchaprasong intersection. I could not help but sneer myself into a unique Thai and International brand commingle in a modern and trendy ambience.

Graduated from the prestigious Central St. Martins College of Arts and Design, London fashion designer Milin Yuvacharuskul moved back to Thailand in 2008 and quickly became one of Thailand’s foremost young designers. Previously an intern at Jill Stuart fashion house, Milin designs feature minimalism with contemporary cut-outs. Her designs show a strong influence of sporty silhouette adorned by graphic-inspired accessories made from transparent resin.

In 2012, Milin Yuvacharuskul teamed up with ELLE Thailand and TRESemmé to launch her Spring/Summer collection and received accolades from both industry insiders and fashion savvy. The collection features strong influence of sportswear and color-blocking details in polishing pastel tones.

Website: www.milin.com
Where to buy:
Thailand: Siam Center, Siam Paragon Department Store, The Emporium Shopping Complex, Central Chidlom.
Singapore: Lula Rock.
Hong Kong: The Collectives, DNA Galleria.

Located opposite Gaysorn shopping complex is one of South East Asia’s largest lifestyle complexes, Central World. Recently burnt down by political turmoil protester in 2011, the newly-revamped Central World today is a home of both leading international brand’s diffusion lines like CK, RED Valentino, AMQ and rising Thai designers.

Khun Chanita Preechawitayakul, a Thai fashion entrepreneur and creative director at SENADA and SENADA THEORY whom I spoke with during Bangkok International Fashion Week shared her passion and wishes for the future of Thailand fashion industry. Her designs are a unique blend of contemporary art-inspired pieces and substantial influences from East Asian culture.

While the SENADA brand accentuates her strong influence from the East Asian culture, the premium clothing line SENADA THEORY is inspired by contemporary art adorned by detail-elaborated decoration.

Website: www.senadatheory.com
Where to buy:
Thailand: Siam Center, Central World, Gaysorn Shopping Center.
International Market: Available in leading department stores in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, London, Paris, Milan, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland, Tokyo, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia.

Among contemporary Thai designers, DISAYA is probably the most eponymous brand as the founder. DISAYA has been famous on a global scale with a client list that includes the likes of A-list celebrities like Rihanna, Jenifer Lopez and late quirky singer, Amy Winehouse who dressed her famous stripe-printed dress on her debuted album cover.

DISAYA is a Thai-born designer but currently based in London, UK. She is best known for her handmade detail-elaborated accessory line. Her works have been featured enormously in Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar and other leading international and local publication.

The eponymous brand design is where quirky personality and her influence from adopted hometown, London commingle in balance. It draws attention from eclectic mix of pastel-toned fabric and feminine floral prints adorned with embroideries and other intricate details.

Website: www.disaya.com
Where to buy:
Thailand: Gaysorn Shopping Center, Central World, Siam Paragon, The Emporium, Central Chidlom.
Taiwan: Astrium, Astrium Silver Lable.
Hong Kong: Little Black Dress, Magenta, Vein.
China: Nikky Home, Spring Fashion.

Inspired by the mysterious sci-fi movie, Planet Odyssey, THEODDYSSEE has continuously been a source of inspiration for many urban Bangkokians throughout its 8-year existence. Created by Khun Prin Sachakul, THE ODDYSSEE is a unique mix of fashion and art osmosis that is dedicated for divine inspiration.

Available in menswear and womenswear, THEODDYSSEE collection feature its distinctive printed pattern with quirky and creative details along with its “formula creation” motto that strives to create a new genre, style and ultimate experience for those who dare to challenge themselves with new style and look.

Faithful to its funky and urban casual, THEODDYSSEE accentuates the brand’s core value by highlight the utility, minimalism silhouette and chic sophistication with softly decorated details.

Website: www.theoddyssee.com
Where to buy:
Thailand: Central World

Photos Courtesy of Milin, Disaya, Theoddyssee, Senada.

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