BAZAAR’s New Gen Fashion Awards 2016: Who will win?

Aaron Yong, an ESMOD graduate

Aaron Yong, an ESMOD graduate

Kuala Lumpur’s newest eco warrior gives us the low-down on his determination, and the idea of sustainability as the main focus in his latest designs.

Is it true your latest collection was inspired by the effects of global warming on corals?
I stumbled upon an article about coral bleaching, and immediately thought it was both eerie and stunning. My collection’s neutral colour palette directly references it, but it’s not just inspired from the current situation of coral bleaching—it’s the whole process of it. The use of sand cashmere represents the seabed, while the colours red and blue represent the conflict between the two water temperatures that lead to coral bleaching.

 

BAZAAR Asia New Gen finalist Aaron yong brings an edgy twist to sustainable fashion

BAZAAR Asia New Gen finalist Aaron yong brings an edgy twist to sustainable fashion

How do you balance the concept of sustainability with form and function?
Coral bleaching may look beautiful, but it is in fact deadly to the ecosystem. The shredded bleached denim in this collection acts as a second life to fabrics, as more and more bionic yarns become difficult to obtain over the years. I was also inspired by a diver’s suit, but instead of neoprene, I used double-faced fabrics as a more practical option. The core element of a design should be focused on its main purpose. Without comfort, how can we function at our fullest potential?

How do you balance the concept of sustainability with form and function?
Coral bleaching may look beautiful, but it is in fact deadly to the ecosystem. The shredded bleached denim in this collection acts as a second life to fabrics, as more and more bionic yarns become difficult to obtain over the years. I was also inspired by a diver’s suit, but instead of neoprene, I used double-faced fabrics as a more practical option. The core element of a design should be focused on its main purpose. Without comfort, how can we function at our fullest potential?

What sets this collection apart?
Its seamlessness. I took sportsluxe to a new level by using minimum amount of fabric, respecting the “flow” of the garment. Sustainable knits have also been incorporated to suit our tropical climate.

What do you look out for when designing a collection?
I don’t really look ahead before designing a collection. Sure, there’s the standard procedure of going through inspirations and creating mood boards, but I’m more of a hands-on person, allowing random experiments to guide me to the inspirations. If there are any mistakes, I’d work around it as it could bring something new. I prefer to celebrate the imperfections.

How would you sum up your design philosophy in one word?
Brutalism. I believe that in all garments, form follows function. Luxurious materials should be used where it is most appropriate, and its nature shouldn’t be hidden. It’s the celebration of raw unpretentious beauty, which challenges the perception of the norm.

What has this competition taught you?
That opinions change, every time. As the saying goes, “it’s impossible to please everybody.” The least I can do is to trust my instincts to create; to pave the road to please those who share my vision.

harpers-bazaar-malaysia-new-gen-junn-tan

This fresh designer shares her journey into Japan’s rich history, and why masculinity is the new sexy.

There are a lot Japanese elements in your latest collection. Why were you inspired by them?
I stumbled upon Italian-British travel photographer Felice Beato’s photographs from his travels in the 1850s—the height of samurai culture. The strength in character and spirit drew me in. I didn’t just fall in love with the clothes; I fell in love with the culture and heritage, too.

What has been the most interesting discovery throughout your research on Japanese history?
The onna bugeisha—a collective of female samurai warriors who existed in early history. These women were both graceful yet strong in character, and this juxtaposition was what I tried to present in my latest collection.

What makes Androgyny appealing to women?
It makes women feel more confident, and adds an unexpected touch of masculinity to
their personalities.

Junn Tan's latest collection as BAZAAR Asia New Gen finalist gives women confidence with Japanese samurai-inspired looks.

Junn Tan’s latest collection as BAZAAR Asia New Gen finalist gives women confidence with Japanese samurai-inspired looks.

Who is the woman you’re designing for?
There’s no certain character in mind, but definitely one who appreciates art, culture, and fashion.

What’s the most important factor when designing a collection?
To show the relationship between the story and design details through research, analysis, and experimenting with different fabrics. Any collection should evoke the spirit of the story conveyed, regardless of where the inspiration came from.

Which is your favourite piece?
I love every single piece, but if have to choose one it would be the upside-down raglan jacket.

How would you sum up your design philosophy?
Contra mundum. It means, to be against the world. I’ve realised  that it is hard to express myself with the restrictions in this society, but through design and clothing, it breaks the barriers of conservative thinking.

What’s interesting about designing something?
Seeing how an idea could be deconstructed, and then reconstructing it before finally discovering your true identity.

What is the best takeaway for you from this competition?
Failures don’t always matter, and to keep on experimenting. Also, meeting experienced mentors, learning to view things from a different perspective, and making new friends to exchange thoughts.

What was the most impactful advice from the judges?
Always keep your identity—never lose it.