New Young Hyphenate Designers: What's in Their DNA?

As you may know I love to meet and support emerging designers. Recently I was approached by two young designers from Vietnam, Viet Nguyen and Jang Le, founders and creative directors of Subtle Simple and LUA Studios. I was intrigued because although I knew there was a good deal of clothing manufactured in Vietnam I was not aware of any Vietnamese fashion designers. In fact fashion design is young in Vietnam and there is a need to produce design talent. The call is not for those that mimic Western clothing but rather young designers that seek to assert an identity with clothing that is modern yet  inspired by Vietnamese traditions. Here are a few words from Viet Nguyen about the development of their brand and their inspiration.

“Subtle Simple is a young independent brand, established in 2014 and we're currently having 2 stores we are running by ourselves in Hanoi. Me and Jang met 3 years ago and right away we agreed with each other that we have the same minds about Fashion. We've researched a lot about Saigon women's fashion back in 60s to 80s, so modern and romantic, and somehow we really feel deeply about how women back then were so beautiful, modern and yet minimal. I created a board to show you some pictures of women back then.

But the golden age has past and fast forward, both me and Jang were born in the mid 90s, so all we have was pictures and photos from some of the photographers back in the day. We tried our best to put them in some of the designs but that was not enough to create a brand. After a few months of discussion, we spent a lot of time researching on architecture, modern and minimalism nowadays, that's when we knew that we are ready; all of these mixed together to form a subtle yet simple brand identity. After that all of the designs from Subtle Simple are based on these factors"

Perhaps the most well known form of traditional Vietnamese dress is the ao dai, literally meaning “long shirt”. The long fitted tunic with side slits, raglan sleeves and fitted bodice is worn over wide leg pants and the overall impression it leaves is that the wearer is graceful and lovely. It is sensual and modest at the same time. It is pragmatic in that because of the long slits it it can be tied to bicycle handles if one is using that mode of transport.  It has a DNA that contains a national femininity. A search of the web reveals that with the fusion of modern fashion and traditional garb espoused by this new generation of designers, ao dai are being reworked with modern twists that play with length, fabric, findings (like zippers) and are worn over jeans rather than wide legged trousers. 

I am not certain if the garments (the tunic and shirt) that were gifted to me by the designers were inspired by ao dai, although the garment appears throughout their Pinterest inspiration board. When I went to style the look, I felt in my bones that wearing the pieces over anything but wide leg trousers would not feel right. The slit on one side of the tunic with ties at the bottom allowed a secret peek at my silhouette, which reminded me of the graceful accent of the curves and reveal of the waist found in the traditional dress. The high collar, although not mandarin, mimicked it. Finally the bells on the sleeves and the ribbed fabric of the shirt made me feel long and delicate even though I was wearing clothing made with warm, bulky wool.  Despite the almost masculine simplicity and the boxy cut (the architecture perhaps?) I felt supremely feminine and fluid. I could feel the national  DNA.

Are there any questions you would like to ask the designers?

 

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