Rukpong’s UNITED Collection Is A Homage To His Thai Heritage

THAILAND | PARIS | FASHION

Reading time : 4 minutes

Photographs from Rukpong
Words by Usha Sophea Janardhan

Published on November 6, 2021

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Rukpong Raimaturapong discusses his eponymous brand and his latest collection in collaboration with Maison Michel for the 36th Festival de Hyères.

Being the oldest fashion competition in the world, the Hyeres Festival has highlighted emerging young creators since 1986 in the fields of fashion, photography and accessories. The festival is a celebration of international talent, bringing together some of the most established names in the industry to act as the jury, such as Louise Trotter, the creative director of Lacoste and Christian Louboutin, the iconic shoe designer.

Paris-based Thai designer Rukpong Raimaturapong is amongst the finalists in the 36th Festival de Hyères. Here, he talks about his eponymous brand and most specifically the UNITED collection he showcased at the festival.

“As a person, I am quite curious and open. I like to work on different things, and I think that reflects what I do. For me, “Rukpong” is a space where I can test different ideas and approaches from fabrics to images. I try to be open with my collaborators and see where they can go with me.”

He cites his background, especially the vibrant, bustling capital of Bangkok, as highly influential in his work. 

“Being Thai and growing up there, we were never surrounded by minimalism. I draw a lot from the realities that I see or remember. The way we perceive materials, colour and the sense of humour is something I always go back to in my design.”

Just like the city he loves, Rukpong takes a multifaceted approach in his work. Initially working as a graphic designer, he gradually expanded his creativity. His designs are fun, interlaced with subtle hints of sweet nostalgia.

Rukpong presented his UNITED collection as the winning entry of the 19M Chanel métiers d’art prize, in collaboration with Maison Michel, renowned for their refined, handcrafted hats. His latest work pays homage to his roots while exhibiting a colourful fusion of Western and Thai design traditions. 

“I have been looking at videos online of street parties in rural parts of Thailand that gave me a lot of inspiration in terms of colour, construction, and attitude. The colour palette is a true reflection of our colour sense, so bold and vibrant.”

The conception of the collection started in 2019 as a reflection of the tension and division in Thailand society – and a need to capture the moment of different things and different places coming together. It pushes the boundary of traditional design, incorporating the abstract with materials. The collection provides us with a glimpse into the way Rukpong works, remixing cultures and creating something new. 

“I began to think about the rules and tradition that past generations left behind and how this affects the way we perceive materials. What do materials mean in a societal context? Why does silk have to be traditional? Can I work with super cheap materials? Can a religious object become something sporty? Basically, I removed the materials from what they are supposed to be and shifted them in different ways.”

It was a success.

As for LINEAL’s Borderless issue, Rukpong shares his insights into what it meant for him to be living in two different worlds.

“I think there are no actual borders anymore, thanks to social media. We can connect to different cultures, people, and places. Being a Thai living in Paris, I hope I can bring people to new destinations just by looking at what I create.”

“Living in France gave me some space to really reflect on tradition. It gave me freedom and a sense of protection, which to me is a luxury.”

🌐 RUKPONG

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