The Drawing Board
Interview by Caitlin de Laure
Photography by Jovian Lim
Entering the IGC studio, one is first greeted by the static image of new samples neatly displayed and awaiting their launch date. Past a second door, another layer is revealed; meandering around the narrow walkways and corners, past the work stations and clothes racks with garments in various states of completion, one encounters the machinery, both human and mechanical, that produce the IGC collections.
What happens at the beginning of a collection?
Kane and I set the direction and decide what we should focus on, how we will move from this collection to the next and what we can bring forward. Sometimes, we discuss an idea one of us has that requires the other party to execute instead because it’s beyond the former’s capability; it’s really a matter of who does it better and faster.
There is a certain sense of duality in your collections—could you tell us more about this?
The duality came about naturally because of how we each approach our craft and it was in retrospect that we realised this. When Kane treats a fabric, it’s always from a soft, fluid sort of hand, whereas for me, it’s about trying to think of it as crisp and streamlined as possible. I’ve never seen a brand accomplish having both elements within a collection; usually when you try to do two directions, you end up neither here nor there. In this case, somehow it’s seamless.
And, there is no competition between us, we don’t look at how many best-sellers we’ve created individually. At the end of the day, when I see the customer picking up my clean-cut shirts with his sensual dresses, I know that there are two different sides to this woman. We can also tell when customers become more open to embracing new styles. It surprises me how we’ve managed to stretch their level of acceptance such that they begin buying into different categories and different parts of the collections.
What is your thought process when designing a garment from scratch?
It differs slightly from style to style but, basically, it’s very much about capturing an intangible spirit or feel. So, it can come from almost anything I see. It’s often inspiring when I observe a customer try on a style in the shop and look at herself in the mirror; it shows me her natural reaction to the garment: how she judges the garment, how she appreciates herself and how she decides if she wants to buy it.
With regards to our customers, quiet would be the word I’d use to summarize them. It’s as if they don’t want the spotlight on them but they still want a little light, and that’s the sort of fine balance we have to consider. It’s about designing something that will suit their lifestyle.
Hanging appeal is very important too. During the design process or when the sample is produced, I judge the garment when it’s on the hanger as that’s where the customer will first encounter it.
Kane, in contrast, has a very strategic and analytical approach to garment construction. It’s ironic because his works are known for their soft fluidity. He has this particular skill to figure out the construction of the style he is working on right at the beginning while most designers figure that out at the end. His approach is a highly efficient way of working as he can get the sample out almost a hundred percent right, which shows how much control he has over his craft.
Read more in The X Press N˚1.