Traditional Styles for a New World


For Edward Chan the future of fashion is to come about by revisiting and re-imagining the past. For his final menswear collection, New Old World, Chan explored and responded to the technologically advanced and increasingly fast paced world of the modern fashion industry by re-interpreting some of the traditional fabrics and techniques commonly used by our ancestors.


As a fashion textiles student at Singapore’s LaSalle College of the Arts, Chan’s interest lies as much in the fabric of his garments as in their design and silhouette. His idea of the future is built upon textiles that have thus far stood the test of time – leather, denim and knits – he affirms People in the past had a much better grasp of skills and of the concept of beauty.


New Old World seems to be a very high concept collection; tell us a bit about this.
New Old World works as a response to the problem of planned obsolescence within fast fashion. Too often garments seem designed to be desired over a short period of time and not to last.The concept of my degree collection is set in a foraging post-apocalyptic scenario catalysed by the problem of fast fashion and high rates of turnover, consumption and change. It describes how man’s desire for a new sustainable way of life will be realised through slow, time-honoured textile techniques such as knitting, braiding, patch working and hand embroidery.

I expect that in the future people will revisit the past, looking at the old ways of making textiles and clothing. I hope we will again appreciate the slow process of making things and that handcrafting will become a way of life. And as clothing becomes transformable and adaptable the process of adornment will become less defined.

Where did the inspiration for your degree collection come from?
I was in part inspired by the macabre, the intensity of it intrigues me; and by the dreadful commercialist nature of fashion. My collection is underpinned by a study of sustainable fashion exploring the re-appropriation of old things for new use. I do also love the slow process of fashion crafting.


Are there any specific references which influenced your collection?
I admire the artisanal collections from fashion artists such as Maison Martin Margiela. I find their use of unconventional materials as fabric very interesting; they also often feature sophisticated handcrafted textiles which are important to my collection. The novel “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, which I had read recently, contributed to set the mood for my collection.

Edward Chan

Edward Chan

Is your collection targeted at the same type of consumer as that of Maison Martin Margiela then?
The New Old World man dresses in a relaxed and mysterious way with an emphasis on layering and texture. He works in a creative industry. He pays attention to news in art, fashion and culture. He is young but mature and feels good about himself; his look is androgynous and indefinable. He loves to travel and appreciates international cultures and lifestyles. While a fan of the latest art and design trends, he knows how to appreciate tradition. He loves nature and cares about the environment. He’s reserved, but deep down somewhat rebellious


You are very specific about what you wanted from this collection, how do you feel it has been received?
People’s reactions have been really positive. I submitted the collection to the Crowbar Awards 2012, for which I was awarded Gold for the Design: Illustration Category which – I feel – was a great achievement.

Things have really taken off since graduation. The Faculty of Design at LASALLE purchased one of my print designs for a collaborative project and Singaporean fashion label Evenodd have purchased my braided knit print design for their Spring/Summer 2013 collection.

Local fashion designer Ling Wu met with me for a design collaboration, which ended up in a commissioned graphic art print for her bag series and the retail arm of *Scape – a non-profit organization that supports talented youth – purchased several art prints reproduced from my final collection for the official launch of a new retail space. It’s been really exciting.

You’ve done so well, what advice would you give to others wishing to follow in your footsteps?
Just relax and be yourself. The end point of you training should be an assertion to the industry about who you are as a creative, be certain about what you want to do. Read and inform yourself; be relevant to sociocultural and even economic issues. If you are not prepared for hardship then don’t do it.

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Written by Zoe Dickens

Zoe Dickens

Zoe is a 21 year old freelance writer and student from London. She recently graduated from an undergraduate English degree at the University of Exeter and is now studying MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins. Her education has been undertaken with the dream of persuing a career as a fashion journalist. Coming from a family with very few artistic interests, this was a chance career choice found after picking up an old copy of Vogue in the sixth form common room aged 16. She immediately went home, took out a subscription and has never looked back. As well as working as a freelance writer for various websites and publications, Zoe runs her own blog, The Bare Wall, and is a contributing writer to student run Central Saint Martins magazine, 1Granary.