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Dear Shaded Viewers,

It seems that the future of menswear is still in the hands of Asia. We had the Japanese in the 1980s who threw the notions of good taste and bourgeois dressing out the window. The Koreans have rocked Paris menswear for a few seasons now, showing clothes that are subtle, beautifully made and with a hidden sense of luxury. I was delighted to interview Ek Thongprasert after seeing his pieces at Tranoi. The Thai designer, who presented his second menswear collection in Paris, has a fertile imagination and a respect for the craft which shines through him. We got together with Sonny Vandevelde for an impromptu session in Ek's apartment, where he talked about Thailand, his latest concept and modelled the clothes himself, while I made him unpack his three suitcases to have another look. He was leaving for Bangkok the next day and his parents came round later, making us some delicious mint tea.

How did you come to Antwerp and where are you from?

I come from Thailand and went to Antwerp to study fashion at the Academy. I graduated back home with a degree in architecture, but decided I did not want to pursue that and looked at fashion schools instead. Normally, Thai students go to Parson's, Saint Martins or FIT, but I was looking for something different.


I think I needed the challenge and wanted to try something new. At that time, I knew one Thai student who was there in first year and I asked if I could come over to look at the school. I really liked the atmosphere and the kind of work I saw. It's funny, because I didn't know what Belgian style was at that time, but the city appealed to me. It was peaceful and quiet. My friend actually quit after the first year, so I ended up being the first Thai who graduated there.

Was it hard getting in?

It was one of the most stressful experiences in my life. I could not even sleep the night before the first exam. The thing is, Thailand is a country where the arts are still marginalised compared to other main fields of study, such as physics or economics. You don't really get arts classes as a teenager there like you do in Europe, it's a different system.

And how did you feel when you got in?

It was wonderful and truly exciting for me. I started studying in July 2004 and graduated in 2008.

I remember seeing your graduation show that year. What happened after that?

People were telling me not to wait and launch my own line if I wanted to and I had the opportunity to showcase my first collection at the FFI showroom in October 2008. That was my graduate collection, which included both mens and womens. Gradually, I realised I wanted to focus on menswear only and launched my first full mens collection last year.

Why did you focus on menswear? 

I just feel happier with menswear. I can design things I would wear and like the fact that it has more rules and a clearer framework than womenswear.

I was looking at your S/S 10 lookbook and was interested in the media concept you used for that collection. What were you trying to say there?

Well, I have to say I love thinking conceptually and taking time to elaborate ideas. I do that even before designing the clothes and will sometimes spend one or two months working on the concept. I won't start designing if the concept is not right. For the S/S collection, I started with the idea of libraries, newspapers and more generally the accuracy and availability of information. When I go to a library searching for something, I often question the authenticity of the information I've been given. When people asked me about Thailand, I realised that many thought my country was poor and backwards. And then I found out that a lot of information coming from the mass media about Thailand was actually one-sided and biased. Only parts were used, but they became the whole truth. And noone seems to question what they see or hear anymore.

Does that mean you approach fashion design critically, too? Do you have the same sort of questioning when you design clothes?

I think it's mainly a message I need to get across with each collection.

I was really impressed with the new pieces I saw in Paris. They were intricate and had incredible details. Who were you inspired by for your last collection?

I was inspired by Bill Viola's Hatsu-yume and Andersen's The Little Match Girl.

What do you like about Viola?

I like the fact that his work contains hidden messages. That piece shows how society moved on from simplicity to complexity, how things evolve and transform themselves. One image I particularly liked in that video was one of a match being lit. That image created a link in my head with the Scandinavian tale of the little match girl .That girl came to symbolize poor people for me, without shelter, food or family. The concept for the collection was therefore to express the desire and longing for a better life, with warmth and comfortable clothes. I liked the idea that they could not afford new clothes and had to find them on the street or survive with what they had been given. So they had to grab these clothes, rip them apart and try to get them to fit again.

And how did that translate for you in terms of actual pieces?

Well, there was this idea of collage and combining different garments, as well as fabrics, together. Some pieces are oversized, too and have to be fitted on the body. For instance, I reproduced the pattern of a Norwegian sweater onto a sleeveless, embroidered leather vest. Again, it was this idea of a loving grandmother knitting that sweater for the little girl, making sure she would be warm enough and protected. For fabrics, I used leather, felt wool and stonewashed cotton. There are quite a few pieces that were laser cut and punched, too.


The embroidered vest


Embroidery detail

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Two leather vests

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Felt and leather



Philippe Pourhashemi

A freelance fashion writer, consultant and stylist, Philippe Pourhashemi was born in Tehran in 1976. He grew up in Paris, before moving to Scotland to study Foreign Languages. His passions are fashion and culture, as well as music and film. He writes and styles features for Metal in Barcelona, Behind the Blinds in Brussels, Contributor in Stockholm, Veoir in New York and SKP in Beijing. He was named Fucking Young's Editor-at-Large in 2016 and has contributed to ASVOF since 2008, acting as Correspondent-at-Large since 2012. An avid traveler, he likes to explore exotic fashion weeks and unexpected destinations whenever he can.