Monday 15 April 2013

Beauty is in the details for MILS AW13 menswear collection

 When it comes to menswear I think most of you would agree that it’s all in the details. I mean how many varieties of shirts, t-shirts, trousers or even man-skirts can you invent?

Singapore designer Sunny Lim of MILS demonstrates that perfectly in his latest AW13 collection which plays on details that you’ll have to look closer to admire.

I admit, when I first saw the photos I’ve mistaken the colourful chiffon appliqué details on some of the pieces for acrylic prints. But it was only when I bumped into Sunny wearing one of the shirts that I noticed the intricacy of these details and unexpected texture they added to a plain white shirt.

From its first collection debuted at Parco next NEXT – as part of their incubator program last year – MILS stood out for its interesting take on luxury menswear. Like most of the menswear designers in Asia, he favours a deconstructed look but what sets him apart is that he does it while keeping a certain maturity to the looks or at least the basic pieces like suits and shirts. As a result and despite the overly stylized manner it is presented on the catwalk, the clothes are still very wearable for someone who is looking for alternative twist to his basic wardrobe.

Collar details like this printed chiffon applique take a simple white
shirt to a new level!

At first this looks like a digital print but when you look closer you see
that it is a chiffon piece sewn over the shirt. Cool isn't it?

For the new collection, Sunny has taken inspiration from the controversial works of Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki whose work has divided opinions and was often considered too erotic or even pornographic to be accepted as art.

With a  theme this strong, Sunny has worked on translating the moods of Araki’s work into modern and deconstructed streetwear looks which combine soft fabrics and hard forms for various effects.

The result is striking with some interesting compositions evoking moods like constraint and freedom depending on the fabrics and its manipulation. Some pieces like tight printed leggings with peeka-boo cutouts and others with bondage-inspired details on the ankles and wrists take this ‘norm vs unacceptable’ theme to heart and test how far one can go in experimenting with menswear in the ‘traditional’ sense we know.

Aesthetically-speaking, this collection had more details and play on fabric and textures than the first one. With the exception of shirts, It is much more casual ‘street wear’ than smart-casual like its precedent one  which included suits.

My favourite pieces are the crisp white shirts which take on an interesting artistic twist with the treatment of the collar and selected parts by adding splashes of printed textured chiffon. The result is very unexpected and indeed beautiful!

I also love the casual separates like jersey wool jumpers and sweaters with print details  which can be toned down with a pair of jeans or chinos for those not brave enough to go for the full on leggings look.

Looking again at the ‘daring’ factor in some of the pieces I had to ask the designer how he saw this style working for Singaporean men of whom the majority is uninspiring and unwilling to experiment beyond their polo shirts and shorts.

Sunny had indicated that while it’s been great launching his label in Singapore, he no more sees his home country as his target market:

‘Parco next NEXT has been really great for me, pushing my label out to the masses/buyers/press. I just think that the consumers in Singapore are not mature enough for MILS, hence it is purely business decision to move out and end it. I'll be forever grateful for what Parco has done for MILS, and would gladly be back when the local market is ready for MILS.’

Seeing as the label has been getting great support and feedback from other places, being asked to show alongside established labels in some of the continent’s biggest fashion weeks (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Austraila 2012 and Seoul Fashion Week AW13), plus having secured stockists in Australia, Indonesia and fashion-forward Tokyo – I can definitely see MILS soaring way beyond this little red dot but also hope that soon Singaporeans would start appreciating a home-grown talent like Sunny.

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