LABEL TO KNOW: BIRO, BY KENG HOW AND KAGE CHONG
NOMINATED BY Walid Zaazaa, founder, Manifesto
For understated, everyday menswear that is defined by precise tailoring, quality Japanese fabrics and muted colours, Walid Zaazaa’s go-to label is local label Biro, founded by brothers Keng How and Kage Chong.
Zaazaa, whose multi-label concept store Manifesto at Capitol Piazza is known for its tight edit of cult fashion labels, says the label caught his eye because of the “attention to detail, use of good fabrics, excellent craftsmanship and a strong emphasis on wearability”.
Biro, which was launched in 2013, is most recognised for its jeans, which are made of raw selvedge denim, but it also has a neat collection of spot-on elevated basics including chinos, tees, shirts and jackets made with fabrics sourced from Japanese mills. For its latest collection, titled “The Farout”, standout pieces include a red floral print top made of premium Japanese linen, and a constructed premium seersucker shirt that’s lightweight yet versatile enough to be dressed up or down.
“Wearing Biro is not an in-your-face statement like wearing a streetwear logo tee. The label has a certain attitude that is extremely relaxed but very stylish. Everything is based on a good fit and effortless dressing,” says Zaazaa, who was a former menswear design director at DKNY. “Their work is more intellectual, in the sense that you can see their constant effort to design modern, streamlined and innovative collections.”
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LABEL TO KNOW: MARTINE ROSE
NOMINATED BY Terry Ong, artist, writer and part-time lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts
His love for designer Demna Gvasalia’s edgy label Vetements led artist, writer and lecturer Terry Ong to Martine Rose, one of London’s buzziest underground designers. “I’m a big fan of Gvasalia – for whom Rose was a consultant on his SS17 Balenciaga menswear show – whose ethos of deconstructing everyday signs and symbols from the past and present, is such a powerful signifier of the state of the world today,” says Ong, who teaches cultural and contextual studies in fashion media, art history and philosophy in fine arts at Lasalle.
He sees a surrealistic quality in her designs that brings to mind the style of the late French artist Marcel Duchamp. “Rose’s works continue this Duchampian repurposing of the already-made, from soccer jerseys to plain white tees, with a keen eye on seasonless wearability.”
Although Rose started her label in 2007, it was her recent FW17 show that many consider her breakout collection, when she returned to the runway with a collection inspired by “bankers, offi ce workers and bus drivers”. Featuring exaggerated silhouettes such as high-waisted, wide-legged pants, tucked-in sweaters and cut-away jackets and anoraks, it was a statement-making reinvention of the traditional corporate suit.
“Her works are part of an ongoing conversation that is currently pertinent in the world of fashion,” says Ong. “Her interpretation of existing cultures and subcultures – through unusual proportions, shapes, colours and materials – sets her work apart.”
LABEL TO KNOW: HENDER SCHEME, BY RYO KASHIWAZAKI
NOMINATED BY Chris Lee, founder and creative director, Asylum
Hender Scheme was recently thrust into the mainstream fashion spotlight when Adidas formally confirmed a new collaboration between the two, but even before this, the former label had been on the radar of Chris Lee, founder and creative director of design studio Asylum.
Lee, who ran the now-defunct cult multi-label boutique Asylum, is drawn to the Japanese brand’s Homage range of sneakers, which sees iconic styles like Nike’s Air Jordan and Adidas’ Stan Smith reconstructed in premium vegetable-tanned leather versions that are handcrafted in Japan. In fact, the skins are treated for up to eight months and it takes up to another three months to create the fi nal product, making each pair truly a labour of love.
“I find founder Ryo Kashiwazaki’s idea of re-creating industrial, mass products using artisanal handmade methods very interesting,” says Lee, whose latest project – Notebook Vol 2: Inkling – sees him reimagining the utilitarian notebook. “The sneakers are made from natural leather, so they age beautifully as you wear them.”
While sneakerheads with discerning taste might be most familiar with the brand’s re-creations of classic kicks, Hender Scheme, which was founded in 2010, also offers a range of unisex leather footwear and leather accessories in original designs.
These pieces are made using the same exacting processes and quality leather in Japan. Way to put your best foot forward.