Our first introduction to Malaysian designer Aaron Yong was in 2016, when he flew the flag for the Harper’s Bazaar New Generation Designer Award. That debut S/S ’17 collection was a sophisticated and refined outing that belies his youth. The 23-year-old showcases a knack for architectural cuts and forms — but what really stood out was the sumptuous knits, that possess a raw and luxurious homespun finesse.
Flash forward to 2018, and Yong’s minimalist designs could already be found at some of the most exciting multi-label boutiques around the world. Among them are the Corso Como outposts in Shanghai and Seoul; June Bo in Huangzhou; and A’maree’s in Newport Beach and Blake in Chicago. His success boils down to what the modern woman looks for in clothes these days: practical, timeless designs that hide some truly innovative details. While it might not be the sort of fashion that’s packed with Insta-like factor, these are clothes that’d never be dated.
You mentioned in a previous interview that your design philosophy is guided by Brutalist architecture. Could you explain how is this evident in the SS ’18 collection?
That philosophy is a part of the brand’s DNA and will forever be evident throughout every collection. The most evident element is the constant use of grey — the term originates from the French word for “raw”. The movement’s eminent architect Le Corbusier described his choice of material as beton brut or “raw concrete”. Also, the construction of my clothes features the minimal amount of (fabric) pieces but still respecting the flow of a garment at the same time. It’s very much like how Brutalist buildings are usually formed with repeated modular elements, forming masses representing specific functional zones, distinctly articulated and grouped together into a unified whole.
There is a sense of practicality with your designs. Why is this important?
A woman should not be overshadowed by the garment she is wearing. A garment, in my perspective, is supposed to enhance a person, without overpowering her. What it is not supposed to do is to shock and provoke the eyes, it is to bring out the best version of one’s self.
You once said that the pieces in your collection do not need constant maintenance. Could you elaborate a little more?
I do so by choosing a variety of wrinkle-free fabrics which are able to hold the volume and structure of my designs. What I also love is versatility in a wardrobe; the S/S ’18 collection offers 45 garments which can be perfectly mixed and matched thanks to the subtle colour palette that barely clashes.
Tell us more about your ‘autofold’ series.
(Even though I work with wrinkle-free fabrics) creasing is inevitable when it comes to natural fibres. My team and I thought it’d be interesting to simplify the process of ironing. Thus the idea of the ‘autofold’ line was born. It consists of a shirt, jacket and shirtdress and each garment is prefolded into an A3 or A4 size. The folding lines are then stitched permanently, acting as a decorative guide of its user for easy ironing and packing. The perfect to go garment for business trips.
You are known for being experimental with fabrics and knits. What are some of the standouts in S/S ’18?
I would have to say the bonded paper tweed and the couture-esque linen organza which we use for our trenches and palazzo pants. But I would have to state that S/S ’18 features luxe materials which are expertly played with through a variety of construction methods. The knits are of a highly luxuriant variety. The techniques used are impossible to be created using modern-day machinery as the intricate weaves and irregularities are different from conventional knits. The vibrant yarns are hand manufactured by a mill in Japan and offer a burst of textures and colours which evoke a sense of subtle playfulness.
Which piece from the S/S’18 collection should be in every woman’s wardrobe?
The brand is synonymous with its outerwear, so I’d highly recommend the short Kenn trench in the linen-organza blend. It’s a couture take on a sporty look and is perfect as an interseasonal piece. The immaculate detail in the construction is evident through the volume, structure, mobility and functionality of this garment. For instance, the patch pockets provide storage not just from the top opening, but also on the side opening.