FASHION, like history, always repeats itself. But what if nostalgia isn’t just a fashion trend, but a mainstay?
Local fashion label MOM is inspired by the Swinging Sixties, the 1960s vintage-retro aesthetic that surfaces on the global fashion radar from time to time.
The 1960s was a time flourishing with art, music and fashion. It was rebellious, seductive and fun, with an emphasis on the freedom of expression driven by youth culture.
It was the decade when John Lennon from The Beatles was at his creative peak, and British style icon Twiggy was named ‘The Face of 1966’. Mini-skirts were in style, and bright colours were all the rage.
But it seems like we’re entering a new era of vintage in 2020, neo-vintage maybe? MOM’s pieces are crafted with modern sensabilities, but emulate the glamour from the bygone past.
Its debut collection titled Mind Over Matter follows the same abbreviation as the brand name. The emerging fashion label remixes elements of the 1960s vintage-retro and cross-decade references within its ready-to-wear approach to fashion.
Crafted using vintage textiles, wardrobe staples are precisely rendered with a heavy usage of PVC fabric. Adjustable drawstring panels enable a super long dress to be shorted and adjusted into a mini-dress, and a top into a crop-top, to showcase the label’s creativity in infusing unexpected utility with unusual yet instinctive details.
theSun recently got the opportunity to speak to fashion designer Shawn Er, the brains behind MOM at Stories in Avenue K, Kuala Lumpur.
Er presented a slew of retro garments and bags with intriguing names – Mary Lamb’s Bodysuit, Curtain Curtis Jacket, Roasted Tuna Reversible Bag, and Twisted Potato Bag – adding humour to the already cheeky brand name.
What is fashion to you?
“Many think fashion is all about fancy clothes, wearing expensive brands to show off and brag.
“However, I see fashion as having the confidence to wear whatever you feel like, and as you wear them, you feel confident as well.”
What is your vision of fashion that fuels you as a designer?
“I’ve always wanted to challenge the idea of ready-to-wear, in an attempt to break through the common mindset of what normal-wear represents.
“And I guess at MOM, I’m slowly trying to deliver that message across by educating the audience.
“However, from a designer’s perspective, it’s not always about creating what I love, but I’ve to take into account what the audience prefers.
“So perhaps that’s my vision of fashion, to introduce new designs and ideas by innovating the existing ones through the smallest details that would ideally appeal to them.”
What’s the idea behind the brand name MOM?
“The name might seem silly at first glance and people [may] laugh at it, but the name gives a memorable impression. It’s also very cheeky because we call out to our mother (mom) every day.
“MOM was [inspired] our mothers’ fashion style back in the 1960s, through the vintage garments and bags that reigned supreme in those days. To them, it was the golden age for fashion.
“Additionally, MOM also works as an abbreviation for each collection, like the title of the debut collection Mind Over Matter [as well as the] following collection, Moments of Memory.”
How does MOM’s aesthetic relate to your sense of style?
“I’m obsessed with vintage and retro styles but in a formal approach. For example, [using] sartorial tailoring and the choice of fabric to bring out the best of it.
“Recently, I handmade a corset that reflects what I’ve envisioned for the very specific 1960s vintage-retro aesthetic with sartorial elegance that I have in mind.
“Its aesthetic mirrors my style, but [is] not necessarily for the brand per se, though I designed the corset with the idea of it being a show-piece for MOM to create buzz for the brand.”
MOM draws its style from 1960s retro. Do you think the 1960s or retro fashion, in general, has influenced you in any way? What do you find so compelling about this era?
“It’s everything about the 1960s, from its lifestyle to its interior decor. Fashion today is either minimalist or maximalist, but 1960s retro … speaks [to] my mind.
“Its colour intensity and distinctive style across the wallpaper, carpets, sofas are everything I could ever imagine. Every time I see 1960s retro interior design, I’d kill to live my whole life in it.”
Why do you think retro fashion has contentiously come back into fashion? Could it just be a seasonal trend that goes around in cycles?
“Fashion is always evolving, [the definition of] retro in 2020 is different compared to retro in the 1960s.
You may recreate the exact style but I’d love to interpret retro in my own ways. And five years from now, ‘retro’ in 2025 might be completely different as well.
“[We] tend to look back [at] what happened years ago and recreate that … But to grow out of history, and create something [that is] beyond a fleeting trend is a challenge.
“We’re so influenced by social media and what we’re exposed to and surround ourselves with, [that] the world has set us to be like this.”