Monthly Archives: May 2011

Thai K-Pop Star In Korean Arena Homme +

Nichkhun of 2PM appears in the latest issue of Korea Arena Homme Plus, in a feature called “Be a Man”. Curious title, given the singer’s pretty-boy face and equally boyish persona and stage antics. Was it a request or a plea or a wish? And as expected, there was nothing terribly manly about the way he was styled for the photo spread. No guy can be considered to be a man when he is spotted in shoes clearly too big (above) for him. When you look like you’re wearing your dad’s broques, you’re only pretending to be a man.

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X Marks The Shirt

Whatever reputation the 24th letter of the English alphabet suffers or enjoys, having the least number of English words beginning with it is of the least concern to those who use it. X is a popular symbol among designers, so much so that it is a recurrent motif this season at two diffferent brands:  CDG Shirt (above) and OriginalFake (below). It is probably a coincidence: the use of X and the fact that both labels hail from Japan.

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Brave New Front

On the left-side entrance into Paragon Department Store on level three, local men’s wear label Zenithorial has set up shop, its first corner in a department store. The terrific frontage is used to the brand’s advantage, showcasing designer Adisak Rojsiriphan’s pastiche of styles for guys who dare.  But wait, what is truly happening here?

The one thing that stood out is a metal framework of a hut inside which holds what appears to be a 1920s beach-side changing room, complete with awning-striped curtains. The hut is disconcerting to me only because it is so evocative of the interior concept of London’s Dover Street Market, a retail format pioneered by the house of Comme des Garcons. As if the simple yet arresting architectural form alone was not enough, there were, too, the presence of CDG’s oversized polka dots!

Mr Rojsiriphan is not a minimalist, that much we know. The penchant for mixed patterns extends from the clothes to the walls of the small retail space. It is visually arousing, of course, until you remember that the purpose of visiting such a space is not to stare at walls!

And the clothes? I thought Zenithorial was collaborating with 27 Fiday!

Photo: Stealing Glances

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On Its Way… Uniqlo

As they say, better late than never. Uniqlo’s arrival in Bangkok this September is way behind those in other Southeast Asian cities. Heck, Kuala Lumpur got theirs even before us, November last year, to be exact. But later may be better as Uniqlo has announced that the debut store, to be opened in CentralWorld, will be the largest in Southeast Asia. That would be a whopping 2,700 square meters of space.

With Uniqlo’s entry, CentralWorld is clearly Bangkok’s one-stop centre for high-street brands or fast fashion. As Forever 21, Gap, Topshop, Mango, Zara, and now, Uniqlo go for the same consumers whose liaison with cheap is so unbreakable that they have defined fashion retailing in this city, these sellers will inevitably create a collective store filled to the rafters with styles that are similar. Will we risk shaping a mono-culture? Or will identical products force these retailers to compete on price? For many Bangkokians, the latter is what they will watch out for.

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Scandal? What Scandal?

If you look at Edison Chen’s promotional photos for Coca Cola’s 12th Anniversary range of products, produced in collaboration with Hong Kong’s urban-label-of-the-moment CLOT and illustrator James Jarvis, you wouldn’t have guessed that this was a guy once embroiled in a sensational sex scandal. That was in 2008. Has it been that long?

Mr Chen was thought to have committed professional suicide when those photographs quickly went viral once posted on the Net by an unscrupulous computer mechanic. The movie star disappeared, apparently somewhere in Canada, and was quickly dismissed as a man with no future. But that was not to be. His career in the movies may have temporarily halted, but his business in fashion was leap-frogging into the big time. Unbeknown to many people, CLOT is owned by Edison Chen.

Which is, perhaps, why he is appearing in the publicity pictures. Mr Chen is never shy in front of a camera, whether his own or a paid photographer’s. And this time, he looks so clean-cut, so youthful, so unassailable by pass indiscretion that it is doubtless he can sell products.

I guess, in some ways, it is a Kate Moss syndrome. The more disreputable your past, the more fashion loves you. And it isn’t only in Hong Kong that the fashion tribes are welcoming Mr Chen back into their fold. In this year’s March issue of Vogue Homme Japan (below), he was shot, hair parted high, smoking as if there was no better accessory than a cigarette.

It is, however, hard to say if Edison Chen’s lurid past has really gone up in smoke. He was made to be the bad guy, the victimizer, the one who propelled all those women to global notoriety, never mind how willing they were as nude models. Some stains are simply too hard to wash out. Forget we may, forgive is quite another thing.

Still, he would not brood over it, as he told Time Out Hong Kong recently, “I really believe that everything happens for a reason. And I think this has all happened to help me gain more clarity and re-evaluate my life.”

Or let the boyishness disarm you.

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Robinson Relieved Of His Role

The Associated Press announced: “Head designer out at Gap brand.” It was not a shocker, really. I am only surprised it hasn’t happened  sooner. Has Gap been any better under Mr Robinson’s stewardship? Has he brought anything new to the racks? While other mass-market labels such as Uniqlo is moving way ahead, adopting fashion looks in unprecedented ways and unapologetically, Gap is, quite frankly, trapped somewhere in the past… at least 20 years ago. Mr Robinson’s appointment at Gap in 2007 was the closest thing to excitement that the brand has been able to offer. Despite the buzz and even a fashion show to launch his debut collection, Mr Robinson’s clothes won over almost no one. Gap has been languishing in the back seat of fashion’s fast ride forward for too long.

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