BIFW 2011: Business As Usual At Greyhound

Why do Thai brands constantly offer different lines? Because they can. It’s the mango growers’ school of product development. You have the orchard, you grow the fruit. And the more varieties you put out in the marketplace, the more of the market you will capture. How else should we explain Greyhound’s Project 1.1? Already with spin-offs, Playhound and Hound and Friends, Greyhound’s addition, in collaboration with the Mall Group and first shown at BIFW last October, will improve the brand’s visibility. But does it offer anything new? Is this mango any sweeter or more fragrant?

Well, if you are a true Greyhound fan (not foodie!), maybe you don’t need anything terribly different. Greyhound, post-1980s, when it was at its peak, is the sum of Brit cool, Italian savvy, and Japanese quirk. From a design perspective, they’ve always been able to strike a balance, just as they do at their eponymous cafe, between tasteful and the unexpected, all bundled as a quietly elegant package. Therefore, they do not appear as mass as the other Eighties-born brand such as Jaspal.

Project 1.1 does not deviate from the formula that founder and designer Bhanu Inkawat has conceived. Considered a pioneer in the Thai fashion industry, Mr Inkawat has given Greyhound such a particular look that it can be considered one of the few local brands with some semblance of a brand DNA. It is from this genetic code that Project 1.1 draws its form and shape.

Even if one day it may become 1.2 or 2.1, this Project is for now just a clone. Greyhound’s usual slim silhouette, muted colours, and boyishness were all there. It was minimalism without taking away too much. The entire collection seemed to be build on some key pieces: the narrow-collared shirt, the softly-tailored suit, and the ankle-grazing pants. And as such, it bordered on the repetitive. A couple of cardigans and hooded jackets did not provide variety.

Like many Thai designers, Project 1.1’s design team relied on styling tricks to lift the blandness of the clothes. These came in the form of accessories for the face. One was a pair of sunglasses that looked like goggles used in inter-galactic missions to distant stars where the sunlight is unusually harsh. The other, a face mask of sort, was composed from the contents of a geometry set. I could not see its real function, but the protractor flanked by two set squares and held together by some unidentifiable hardware to hold the contraption to the head was, admittedly, a shot at creativity.

As I sat watching the show, somewhat distracted by the footsteps of the models breaking up the panels of different coloured sands on the catwalk, I wondered if Project 1.1 is a reaction to the new men’s wear brands that are saturating the market, such as Painkiller and CMG’s 4X4 Man, all sharing comparable aesthetics . If so, Greyhound could take comfort in the fact that they were there first. Mangoes, as we know, are not created equal.

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