Friday 19 October 2012

Digital Fashion Week: Interview with JR Chan of Singapore menswear -J-A-S-O-N-

Singaporean men really are a spoiled bunch...when it comes to fashion.

Considering this is still very much an emerging fashion market, there are a surprisingly large number of more avant garde labels peddling an increasingly diverse series of looks aimed at the modern male.

From the established labels and six year veterans like Depression to the new kids on the block like MASH-UP, MILS, EvenOdd and now even local icon Thomas Wee is about to launch a menswear collection. The truth is guys, you've never had it so good.

At the forefront of the Singapore man renaissance is -J-A-S-O-N-, a brand that has been around for a year and a half and already has a reputation for it's androgynous shapes and quirky twists on conventional tailoring.

Designer JR Chan took the Bonjour Singapore Q&A ahead of her appearance at Digital Fashion Week. Here's what she had to say.

Designer JR Chan of -J-A-S-O-N-

Bonjour Singapore: Why did you decide to start -J-A-S-O-N- and design a menswear label?

JR Chan: I find my experience and style in the field to have changed and grown a lot along the years as I’ve apprenticed under Keith Png. I started out doing a lot of made to measure for men in 2008, and continued forward to launching Cloak&Dagger for Hide&Seek. –J-A-S-O-N- represents the stage I am in right now. I enjoy challenging rules and fixed stereotypes and that is exactly what my label is all about. To venture into designing menswear is my first move to justify what I believe in.

There are far more men designing womenswear than women designing menswear. Why do you think is that? Is it more challenging?

I am not sure if it as more challenging, I believe every designer has their own set of challenge, but designing menswear for me is a passion which stuck to and I have always been more interested to do this than designing womenswear. Indeed there aren’t many women designing menswear, I guess it boils down to different individual’s interests…

What’s the inspiration behind your recent collection?

There is definitely a military influence in my Spring Summer 2013’s collection. I am trying to explore more color against pattern-blocking, mixing in a hint of dandyism contrasted with military elements.

Who do you design for?

I design for the working class heroes, the metrosexual men. Men with more buying power, and who have that rebel spirit within them to experiment with fashion while finding individualism.

What are the challenges that you face as a relatively new local designer?

-J-A-S-O-N- is a relatively young label which was established just early last year in March. There is definitely a lot of work to grow and mature my label to establish and place a stronger foot hold in this industry.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In Singapore?

I would like to expand –J-A-S-O-N-‘s flagship stores in Singapore most definitely.

Do you think there is enough support for local designers like yourself in Singapore?

As compared to probably 6-7 years ago when I first started out, there really wasn’t as much fashion weeks held in Singapore that gave local designers the much needed platform. Now we are fortunate enough to even have our government’s support such as Spring Singapore to assist our start-ups. The consumer market has also grown from solely supporting giants such as Zara to mixing them with more niche and exclusive local labels' items to create individual and unique styles. I believe that the thirst for individualism and style is slowly being introduced to the local consumers, especially with social media which easily connects us to the rest of the world.

Do you wear the clothes you design?

Yes, sometimes I wear the ones in more androgynous cuttings.

If you were to give Singaporean men one fashion advice, what would it be?

To keep up the good work and continue experimenting with fashion, introducing different staples in their wardrobe like different fabrics and textures to their daily basics.  

Digital Fashion Week - the world's first online only fashion week - starts on Saturday, October 20. Visit their website to find out more about the event, the shows and the designers and models taking part. 

I will also be hosting live Google+ hangouts with the designers and star models. You can find out more about that on the official DFW Google+ page.