MADE IN HONG KONG.
Fashion designer Aries Sin tells Riva Hiranand how she is determined to put her hometown on the map with unisex label Modement.
Despite the dreary weather, designer Aries Sin is all smiles as she welcomes me into her office at Fashion Farm Foundation in D2 Place. It’s a telltale sign that you’re in a hub for designers – the space also functions as a co-working studio for local brands such as Injury and Daydream Nation – when there are almost more mannequins than people. It’s a fitting location for Sin, the founder of fashion label Modement, who is passionate about contributing to the establishment of a local fashion identity.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Sin studied fashion design and product development at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education. After graduating in 2008, she set up Modement Couture in 2010. But after customers requested more casual items, she shifted to ready-to-wear clothing. The 31-year-old’s greatest inspiration is the city we live in, and her style is striking yet subtle, using clever cutting and silhouettes for a unisex line that is edgy and wearable. The brand made its official runway debut at Hong Kong Fashion Week in 2013 and has since built a celebrity following that includes the likes of Miriam Yeung, Andy Hui, Ellen Loo and Denise Ho.
What inspired you to launch your brand?
During my studies I did an internship in trend forecasting at Peclers Paris. It was a great experience. But I found that while you could feel the culture in the collections in Paris, there was no recognisable fashion identity in Hong Kong. I wanted to do something that represents the place we live in – I wanted to explore Hong Kong’s fashion identity and use elements from the city in my collection.
How would you describe the Modement ethos?
My brand is contemporary, unisex and constructive. I also experimented in the beginning to find designs that suit both men and women with smart cutting, so as to blur the line between menswear and womenswear, while infusing them with Hong Kong elements.
What’s the biggest difficulty with creating unisex clothing?
The sizing. But it’s gotten better now as women and men have almost similar figures. Other than that, you need to ensure the clothes are not too feminine or masculine, but are more balanced.
What inspires your designs?
Things that people don’t notice, like rubbish, broken things or vintage items, as well as culture in a more abstract way. For one collection, I explored how Hong Kong people are always working and caught up with earning money, but at night their true personalities can shine through. I used glow-in-the-dark patterns on my fabric – though it appeared blank, when people were in the dark the pattern would light up.
What is Hong Kong fashion to you?
After working as a designer for so many years, I now have an idea. Hong Kong people are contemporary, and you see a lot of them layering and mixing vintage and modern elements.
What are your thoughts on the local fashion scene?
It has definitely grown in recent years, though we still have room to grow. Young designers are working hard and already have a small base, and just need to work together to create Hong Kong’s fashion identity and to get recognition internationally.
What support do local designers need?
Compared to overseas designers, Hong Kong designers are doing a lot more – marketing, event management, organising our own fashion shows sometimes and working with factories. We need a bridge to connect Hong Kong to the world, and that can only come with support and recognition from the public.
How have you evolved as a designer?
In the beginning my designs were quite safe as I had to test the market and be accessible for the commercial market too. Now I’m more relaxed and my designs have become more avant-garde. While it’s important to cater to the market, you need some soul and your ideas and thoughts need to be known.
Tell us more about your upcoming collection.
For AW16 the collection is called Diffusion. It’s probably my favourite, though I do say that about all new collections! [laughs] I wanted to raise awareness about how people pollute the ocean. We painted an ocean pattern onto canvas, and different parts of that large print are used on the fabric, which is woven wool. Light colours – light and bright blues – signify the ocean before and are contrasted with a darker print showing the polluted sea with a pattern similar to an oil spill. I want to remind people that even though this is fashion, we need to try and save the world too. I don’t believe in using eco-friendly methods [like zero-waste cutting] because it’s trendy; I think it’s a must for designers to incorporate more sustainable methods.
How would you like your brand to grow?
I want our brand to be put on the international stage and show people what Hong Kong fashion and culture is. I hope one day someone will look at a piece of my clothing and know it is from Hong Kong, and that our city’s fashion will become easily recognisable.