“The Foundation Of Good Design Is The Raw Material.”

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THAILAND | FASHION

Words by Kai Atinan Nitisunthonkul

Published on December 1, 2020

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Wish Wisharawish’s fascination with the masterful work of craftspeople results in his latest collection ‘Make it Rain’.

I was born and raised in Buriram in the mostly rural northeast region of Isan. No one in my family or friends is in the creative field. My parents are government officers. The only thing that I was interested in was movies, leading me to study drama. I once went to a university street fair where I saw garments from the fashion faculty. I got goosebumps. It inspired me to look for books and magazines to learn more about fashion.

That spark of interest brought me to Paris, the centre of fashion, where I studied at Institut Francais de la Mode (IFM). There I learned not only fashion; I discovered the Parisian way of living and dressing such as combining second hand streetwear and haute couture. While living there, I also yearned to find my roots and express these in my work. But how could I mix east and west to come out with a new statement? Could such a fashion proposition set a new trend?

I like that fashion is constantly in flux. Sometimes, a huge trend sweeps through us. Everyone rides the hype and then it disappears suddenly. But I hope the eco-friendly movement continues. I support its promotion of craftsmanship as an alternative to industrial scale production. It brings our focus to the artisan who spends days and weeks weaving fabric, the quality of which cannot be replicated by machines. Consumers have an appreciation for such unique creations.

I believe the foundation of good design is the raw material. Thailand already has knowhow and artisans working with indigenous resources, and you can find diverse motifs across the country. I have partnered with government agencies to teach the new generation old crafts with the aim of sustaining the knowledge of these traditional practices. But success didn’t come easy. The most challenging part was to change their mindset, working routine, and processes. It took quite some time and a lot of sweat and tears until we got to know, understand, and trust each other. It’s important we bring out the best of each community. We do not plan to change them but we share and exchange new ideas, patterns, and colour combinations.

Don’t let the handicraft elements of my work ruin your fashion fantasy though. My pieces may be produced in villages but these feel at home in the concrete jungle. My brand has been recognised globally for my innovations in creating vibrant motifs conveying stories. I have presented my collections in various fashion events in France and Japan. And I was honoured to have won in the fourth edition of the Mango Fashion Award in Barcelona.

My F/W 2020-21 collection is entitled ‘Make it Rain’. Rain means life. I feel that through this collection, I help in giving life to craftspeople all over the country. They are experts in weaving and painting who come out with marvellous designs such as woven polka-dot silk and striped cotton from the north-eastern provinces of Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani respectively. I also feature geometric batik from Narathiwat in the south. For the men’s collection, I gave a weaving technique called ’pha kao ma’ or Thai loincloth from Ratchaburi a modern twist fit for casual, everyday look.

Editor’s note: The interview was conducted via email. The interviewee’s answers above have been edited for clarity, brevity, and consistency with LINEAL’s style.

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