Style, Spreads

Our Designer and Model Of The Year 2020 are Keeping the Dream Alive

Our Designer and Model Of The Year 2020 are Keeping the Dream Alive

Men’s Folio Designer Of The Year 2020, Latika Balachander and Men’s Folio Model Of The Year 2020, Wang Dingwei dream about their professional futures as they envision the hopes of their industries.

(On Latika) PLEATS PLEASE ISSEY MIYAKE Cotton dress; Latika Balachander Fleece digitally printed tube-jumpsuit
(On Ding Wei) Latika Balachander Fleece quilted sweater, neoprene embroidered pants

Latika Balachander: Men’s Folio Designer Of the Year 2020. Lasalle College Of the Arts, Menswear, Textiles and Tailoring Graduate.
How would you describe your designs?
My designs focus extensively on the elimination and addition of structure. Visually, I enjoy creating tension through the juxtaposition of materials and surfaces. My garments begin to eliminate the original personality of the wearer entirely — including demographics of age, race and gender. Therefore, my design style captures a narrative between an organic form and the personality that it holds within.

When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?
When I was 13 years old, I told my parents I wanted to wake up every day and do nothing but draw. Soon enough, I found myself focusing every academic project around the human body and was extremely drawn to distorting it and designing for it. Despite being an indecisive person, with millions of questions about career and education, I knew that studying fashion wasn’t one of them. I moved to Singapore to see if my dreams of drawing every day could end up on a runway one day.


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What are some obstacles being a designer in Singapore and how did you overcome them?
As an international student and with very limited technical or ideating knowledge about fashion, everything was new to me. From not knowing my way around buying fabrics to realising the difficulty of getting a work permit in Singapore, there were several obstacles. But along the way, with practice and training I felt more confident as a designer and now I am optimistic about future opportunities. I hope to get the chance to further explore Singapore’s design scene!

What was your experience being part of the Men’s Folio Designer of the Year search and eventually being crowned the winner?
I applied for this competition during the peak of a pandemic with little optimism. It was a far-fetched idea in my head and had almost forgotten about my place in the competition entirely. When it was time for voting, I was reminded of the support I had from my friends and family, and still questioned if it was due to a bias or if my work genuinely stirred a dialogue which I intended to create. When I found out about the results, I was taken aback and I recall watching the livestream over 10 times and pinched myself just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming it. I am extremely grateful for this experience and of all the things I would recall from this year, Men’s Folio would be at the top of my list.

What are you most passionate about?
As an individual and a designer, I am most passionate about being a medium for social commentary. I believe in strong opinions propagating societies towards causes and conversations, so that I influence a change, regardless of its magnitude. At the root of it all, I strive for my work to provoke feelings and emotions within one.

What mark do you want to leave on the fashion industry and/or the world?
Fashion as a form of expression should be accessible to anyone. Within an industry which is highly exclusive and elitist, I strive to widen the space for self-expression and create a less intimidating atmosphere for individuals.

(On Ding Wei) Latika Balachander Neoprene laser-cut panelled jacket

Wang Dingwei: Men’s Folio Model of the Year 2020. Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Furniture and Spatial Design Graduate.
What is the craziest thing you did in 2020?
Sign up for this competition.

How was the experience being in the Men’s Folio Model of the Year search and eventually being crowned the winner?
It has been quite unexpected. There are several strong competitors and I felt that I did not even have a chance to enter the top five.


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How old were you when you first modelled? do you remember who you modelled for?
I walked the OUTSIDER catwalk when I was 21.

What is your favourite part of modelling?
While I’m being made up for the shoot, I always look forward to what the outfit and makeup will end up looking like. Every time.

What is your most challenging shoot?
Shooting in 42-degree high temperatures outdoors while wearing airtight clothes.


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What are some obstacles being a model in Singapore and how did you overcome them?
The biggest difficulty for me now is my work permit — it determines whether I can be a full- time model and I am still looking for a solution.

What is the proudest project you were involved in?
For now, it is Men’s Folio Model of the Year.

Photography Eugene Lee
Art Direction Izwan Abdullah
Styling & Text Michaela Wong
Grooming & Hair Priscelia Wong