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.
Events and travel might still be halted by border closures, but the show still goes on for ASEAN Fashion Designers Showcase (AFDS). Turning fashion into an online moment, AFDS has partnered up with The Homeground Asia (THG) for their first ever ASEAN International Digital Fashion Week (AIDFW), where the showcases and talks will be livestreamed online.
For Laos, AIDFW still remains one of the biggest platforms for young and aspiring fashion designers to send their works down the runways as the fashion industry there is still relatively new. Bandid Lasavong will be raising the Laos flag proudly in this year’s AIFDW, together with fellow designer Pui Sengsoudeth alongside some of the brightest talents in the region.
Lavasong, who currently owns an atelier called MEN’s Folder which caters to modern-day men through customised suits, hopes to bring his simple and elegant style to the catwalk. Emphasising both functionality and design, MEN’s Folder’s range of clothing transcends both casual and formal styles, and has since been dressing many Lao celebrities in the entertainment scene and high profile events.
The showcase is a huge moment for Lavasong, who decided to switch careers from engineering to pursue his fashion dreams. We spoke to him about his inspirations, how he made the career jump, and the future of the Lao fashion industry.
A Q&A with Bandid Lasavong
Why did you choose to be a fashion designer?
Firstly, I’m mostly doing (tailoring) men’s suits – blazers and trousers. I have a shop, but for Fashion Week I thought that I wanted to have my clothes on the stage, and that’s why I chose to be a designer. I actually studied engineering. Tailoring a suit is not really designing – it’s actually pretty simple. Designing a suit is different from designing other clothes. But it also needs a bit of engineering.
What was the inspiration behind your style and the collection that will be presented at AIDFW?
Every year my supplier will send me the fabrics sample, and I will choose the fabrics which is suitable and [those] I like. Then [the] colours and types of the fabric.
My designs are simple but good. The cutting and patterns are neat. I want a strong collection. If a gentleman wears it, they are a gentleman. If a lady wears, it should look cool and strong.
How has the pandemic and lockdown affected you and the local fashion industry?
For the first three months, all the businesses in Laos locked down and everything is dead. Luckily our country is small and we were only really affected during the first three months. My business is supported by local – 80% locals, 20% overseas clients.
The locals support us by wearing suits for wedding and [the] office. The weather here is quite hot, so they wear suits for events and wedding mostly. Nowadays they can’t have events, so my business has now become very bad.
Was there a need to change your creative approach to suit the digital medium of this year’s AIFDW?
Every year I approve the pictures and all. But now, I need to make the photos more professional for digital. I need my team to help manage my social media like Facebook. I just started hiring people to [assist in the] photoshoot and then I post [them] myself. The past year, I mostly worked alone.
Having a network of tech support and social media, and an online presence is very important for the fashion industry. Like in Singapore, everyone goes to the shopping mall to buy [items]. In Laos, people don’t like to go to shops to buy [items]. Now if people rent a shop on the main street, it will be very expensive. You just need to decorate a nice room to do a livestream, and then you can sell your product. They don’t need to spend rental for a shop, and they can earn a lot from just social media!
I didn’t realise that it was so advanced that the use of technology has helped the Laos fashion industry!
Yeah, it’s coming – the online presence is increasing.
Even for my own brand, I have plans to make my website and Facebook page look more professional. Now, if I see something good, I just post, post, post. But if there’s a team (to help), then it will be better. It might be a bit late, but it’s just following the trend worldwide.
How did you end up in AIDFW?
I joined Laos Fashion Week where a senior member asked me to join as a member of AFDS. I spoke to Hayden, and he gave me an opportunity to join. I would say that I’m lucky that they gave me a chance because I never thought of myself [as] a real designer; I just wanted to do suit tailoring.
Is there anything exciting about your upcoming show in AIDFW that we can look forward to?
The collection is simple, but […] my style is simple and elegant. The show is about partying – I want to give positive energy to people.
Is the fashion industry big in Laos?
There are a lot of young designers now. Compared to other countries, the fashion industry in Laos has only been around a few years. Before this, the fashion (trends) are very simple; like just suits and skirts.
Is there a message that you would share with young designers in Laos and throughout the ASEAN region?
If you are a young designer, you have to find yourself. Before you know which direction to go – maybe right or left – you have to find yourself and the real you. If you have your own collection, you can own the style and then maybe you can become a designer for your country or the world!
I’ve said it before – it’s not just the design. You need to make sure that the product itself is good, then you can earn money from that. Sometimes as a designer, we don’t think about money and just do what we want. Sometimes its fancy, sometimes its crazy, and that’s fine. But you can do that for 20 per cent [of the time]. 80 per cent of the time, you need to think about how to earn money. When you have money, then you can create the designs you want to do. If you’re lucky and you find yourself loving this career, then everything will be good; the outcome and product will be good!
*The interview has been edited for clarity.
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.