“In 100 years from now, how will our society look like? Will people feel lonely amongst technology? Will the people of the future feel nostalgic and want to live like we are now?” These are questions that inspired one of Bangkok’s most subversive designers, Takara Thakorn Wannawong, and his label Takara Wong’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection, “Wong2108”.
Wannawong’s interest in sci-fi films as a kid influenced his way of exploring the connection between humans and technology. In his SS18 collection, the designer seeks to unearth an uncertainty towards the future of innovation, questioning whether this progressive façade reflected on society has contributed to the loneliness of men in their everyday lives.
In this interview, we go behind-the-scenes with Wannawong to find out more about his culture and influences growing up, and discover the creative director’s process behind the brand’s stylistic concept and designs.
How would you define Takara Wong as a fashion label?
Takara Wong Man is “An UNCOVER / RESISTANT AND DISORDER”. These three words best describe the army of Takara Wong. We constantly work towards the motto of “Repeat Trials in The Errors Made”, which translates to: we are a high street fashion label that started from scratch, and even till now, we are always experimenting with new concepts and techniques in each collection. As long as the fashion industry never stops, we won’t too.
Your designs reflect a D-I-Y aesthetic. Does the punk movement inspire your approach to Takara Wong’s fashion collections?
Yes, the punk movement and music has always influenced my art form. We love the Sex Pistols, Rancid and Green Day, to name a few. As a kid, I grew up with different groups of subcultures and lifestyles. Other than punks, there were skateboarders, musicians, rockstars, DJs and B-Boys. These friendships allowed me to learn everything — their culture, lifestyle and fashion. Hence, the activities we’re involved in are never conventional, always pretty extreme. That’s where I draw inspiration from mostly. People inspire me, and these are the people I surround myself with.
For your SS18 collection, you translated a futuristic concept through sporty streetwear silhouettes and PVC materials. Where do you see the future of fashion and streetwear to be?
It’s a cycle — fashion references the past, which circulates to the present and then the future. Industry-wise, I think high-end fashion will continue to incorporate elements of streetwear. Style is eternal, and streetwear fashion will always have a signature based on the respective zeitgeist. For example, individuals who identify as “punks” are easily recognisable through the association with the period’s aesthetic, whether it’s a distressed element or the cut-and-paste style; same for those who relate to the culture of hip-hop. Such is the eternal style of subcultures in the streetwear movement — Sid Vicious is dead for a long time yet his style lives on! — so with advancements in technology, it’s important to innovate new materials and experiment with new techniques.
The collection showcases anarchic elements as well, including details like clear plastic pockets, stylistic use of masking tape to indicate censorship and slogans about “Future-sistance”. What’s the message you’re aiming to convey?
It’s styling. But of course, we want our followers to not feel the need to keep up with the pace of society. “[You] don’t have to go future-fast, future is not friendly with you” [laughs]. Future-sistance is short for “Future Resistance”. In this time and age, you see brands and campaigns getting involved with eco-culture. For Takara Wong, we don’t want to go along with this future-fast pace, where the use of technology has enabled consumers to abide in this blue streak movement — it’s too much!
Can you tell us more about the images featured on the menswear shirts?
We always design our messages to both be hidden and public on our clothing, whether it’s tongue-in-cheek or a response to dark humour. We want people to question the underlying meaning, which means they have to take a look at the shirt and ask me [laughs].
How has growing up in Thailand influenced your journey as a fashion designer?
I grew up in both Thailand and Sydney, so there’s a blend of contrasting cultures. Bangkok adopts a rushed environment; Sydney is more laidback. Bangkok’s weather is mostly hot; Sydney’s ranges between seasons — winter, rainy, hot. I also love to explore both cultures by people-watching in bars, observing the way they dance, sip their drinks or just purely making love. Every place is different, and that influences my journey as a fashion designer in translating the “true colours of people”.
Are there any exciting projects you’re currently working on?
In 2018, Takara Wong will see more collaborations with party and music collectives, with pop-up projects in Bangkok and possibly in other Asian countries — we’re excited for that!