Boyish RICHARD GIEN, 22, (right in picture) is unlike many young designers today, who sell before they can even sew. He has come into the fashion limelight as “apprentice” to “master” designer THOMAS WEE, 38.
But there is no traditional hierarchy. Thomas Wee and Richard, his design assistant of about a year, co-create their popular and chic Mixable line, that was almost sold out even before Thomas’ new boutique was open in Wisma Atria in September.
(“Master” and “Apprentice” as pictured with model Pat.)
Mixable success was due to its new designer-marketing concept. They make, say, 20 pieces of one design, but vary fabrics and colours for different looks, without compromising on good quality cut and finish.
For the first time, a local high fashion designer had gone “down-market” with wearable, matchable, often unisex clothes, priced reasonably, yet retaining a designer “feel”. They appealed to trendies as well as more conservative office-workers.
Richard had worked for two other local designers for about a year before he joined Thomas’ fashion design class at the National University of Singapore’s Department of Exra-Mural Studies last year.
I am very happy to have Richard says, Thomas. “He doesn’t rush off doing couture things or outrageous stuff, he’s a down-to-earth guy.” However, he insisted Richard start at the bottom, re-learning the basics, from sewing a buttonhole to studying the weave, grain and weight of luxury fabrics like linen and silk, Now, Richard also does some cutting.
Thomas, whose other assistant is Lee Kian Cheong, says of his ‘apprentices’: “If they succeed, I’m happy, because they will have shown themselves to be good students.”
—John de Souza (Style)