From 28 to 31 January 2021, ASEAN International Digital Fashion Week will broadcast on the THG website at 2100 hrs (+8 GMT) for 4 nights. Watch the showcase here.
It’s safe to say that we’ve never spent as much time online as in the last twelve months. From Zoom meetings to virtual happy hours to online workout classes, the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent restrictions have thrusted many areas of our lives and societies into cyberspace. And the fashion industry is no exception.
Faced with strict social distancing mandates, brands and designers are venturing further and further into the digital realm to seek out experimental alternatives to the traditional format of creation and presentation. Over the past year, with the conventional catwalk a definite no-go, we’ve witnessed new collections being unveiled via short films, 3D livestreams, simulation video games, augmented reality experiences, marionette-style puppet shows, and more.
The ASEAN International Digital Fashion Week
Such “phygital” innovation isn’t limited to the Big Four (that is, the fashion capitals of New York, Milan, London, and Paris) either. In just a few days, the inaugural ASEAN International Digital Fashion Week (AIDFW) will kick off right here in our little red dot, the fruit of a collaboration between the ASEAN Fashion Designers Showcase (AFDS) and yours truly, TheHomeGround Asia (THG).
Spotlighting the singularity and diversity of fashion within the ASEAN region, the AIDFW will bring together established and emerging designers and models from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and beyond in a four-day virtual celebration of local style, creativity, and artistry — all broadcast exclusively on THG’s digital platform from 28 to 31 January 2021.
Can’t wait to find out what the AIDFW has in store? THG has your back. We’ve asked Even Ong, fashion designer and AIDFW Country Head for Malaysia, to give us the lowdown on her soon-to-be-showcased collection, her forays into digital media, her sustainability goals, and more.
A designer to watch
A graduate of the prestigious Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Even Ong honed her skills at a local fashion brand before establishing her very own womenswear label, BRIDE K’OLLECTION. Now based in Johor, Malaysia, Ong has made a name for herself with playful yet elegant designs, which employ different methods of fabric manipulation to create dimensional fabrics and innovative silhouettes. Aiming to empower women through fashion and to instil in them a greater sense of confidence and independence, Ong’s work is both exquisitely crafted and unabashedly feminine. She is one of two designers representing Malaysia at the 2021 AIDFW.
A Q&A with Even Ong
Why did you choose to become a fashion designer?
I’ve always loved dressing up and looking at cool designer clothes. When I was in secondary school, I told myself that I must become a fashion designer so I could come up with new ideas and make clothes for everyone.
Was that difficult to achieve?
Yes, quite difficult. At least for me, because my family isn’t in the creative field – they work in the business and accounting industries.
What do you love about being a fashion designer?
I’ve always loved meeting creative people, and I think working in the fashion industry allows you to get to know creatives from all sorts of backgrounds, from whom you can learn a lot.
What interesting things have you learned? And how long have you been in the industry?
I’ve worked as a fashion designer for three years now. I’ve actually met a lot of designers from abroad, and we’ve talked about our countries, our cultures, our backgrounds… and also our occupations, because we don’t just meet other fashion designers, sometimes we also meet artists and actors, so we can learn from them.
Where do you find inspiration and what keeps you motivated?
I’m always inspired by the natural woman, like my mum. So I try to design clothes that can help make a woman feel more confident — that’s why I created my brand.
Why did you choose to do bridalwear?
Actually, when I was starting out, I designed ready-to-wear. But I saw a gap in Malaysia, so I changed to bridalwear.
Who and what have inspired your style and the collection you’ll be showcasing at the AIDFW?
I’m inspired by the natural woman within the modern culture. In this collection, I’ve used materials like diamonds and tulle fabric to represent elements of the feminine. It’s all about the balance between oversized and small silhouettes.
How have the pandemic and the lockdowns affected you and the local fashion industry in Malaysia?
I don’t think the pandemic has affected my business much. Every day during lockdown, I had this thought: I need to do something new to attract new customers. So I designed bridal accessories for my brand, and the feedback was quite good. I don’t think it’s impossible, you just need to change your mindset and create.
Was there a need for you to change your creative approach and collection design to suit the digital medium?
I think that, although the digital medium is important for now, every piece that I design has a message, so I try to do something that I really want to do, rather than just trying to suit the digital medium.
Do you think the digital medium is beneficial to the fashion industry?
With the digital medium, I think we can do anything and everything we want. For example, we can present the creation of a collection from drawing to design to end result, so the audience can see the whole process. Whereas in a runway show, they can only see the end result. I think this is the difference.
What is sustainable fashion, and do you practice sustainable fashion?
To me, sustainable fashion concerns more than just textiles and clothing. I do want to try creating a sustainable fashion collection in the future — when I’m ready.
What is the impact of the pandemic on the ASEAN fashion scene and what are the adjustments you’ve had to make in coping with this increasingly digital fashion scene?
As I said before, this pandemic is giving us a new challenge. I can see that most of the fashion brands have created new lines, and they are also focusing more on digital marketing. For our brand, we are also doing new things like interacting with our customers, going on Facebook Live, etc.
How have your digital contacts and partners chipped in for the digital fashion shoot?
I am actually the videographer for the shoot! We had everything planned out, but then our country suddenly went under lockdown because of the pandemic, just before the date of the shoot, so our photographer couldn’t come to our place. So I just told myself: Why not give it a shot and try to create something really new for me? And that’s how the video came about [laughs].
Did you edit it yourself or did you pass it to your photographer?
I did everything [laughs]. I hired the makeup artist and the models, but everything else I did myself.
What advice would you give the young designers in your country and throughout the ASEAN region?
I think my advice would be to do what you want to do, and learn from your mistakes, but don’t let them define you.
Broadcasted live from Singapore, the fashion designers and models in the showcase comes from Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. Catch over 50 runway shows and fashion films from 28 to 31 Jan 2021 at 9 p.m. (+8 GMT) on AIDFW 2021 via this link.