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Bryan Yeo: A Designer Exploring The Future And Possibilities Of Knitwear

To paraphrase George Orwell, if there's hope for the future, it probably lies with the next generation. Cynics may dismiss this as the rosy idealism of youth but hey, that can invigorate the imagination like nothing else. We spotlight seven up-and-coming Singapore students from different artistic disciplines whose works make us dream once more.

Here we talk to Bryan Yeo, a 24-year-old knitwear designer who is currently majoring in Fashion: Fashion Design with Knitwear at Central Saint Martins.

What materials, mediums and techniques are typically used in your works?

Typically, I use both organic and synthetic yarns as they are the fundamentals of traditional knitting or weaving. However, I do enjoy exploring with unconventional materials like wood, metal and plastic. Experimenting with found or unwanted objects, repurposing them into almost yarn-like filaments or embellishments, using them to either add on or weave into a knit, and changing the properties of the knit itself. In terms of techniques, I explore and try a variety, then create tiny samples without a instruction manual, playing around with the qualities of the material and developing them into samples. Going through a process of elimination informs me what I can or cannot do.

Your favourite work to date:

My favourite achievement to date is the White Show project (an annual show where first-year BA Fashion students create a look with white fabric) which is synonymous with Central Saint Martins. It was pretty intense creating a garment that was under so much scrutiny by my tutors over two weeks (last year) with plenty of textile samples and garment toiles. In addition, my design was showcased at two different shows, one for the general student body of CSM (Central Saint Martins) and the other at the 2019 British Fashion Awards (attended by the likes of Rihanna), which was an experience on a level that I never thought I would be part of.

Yeo’s submission last December for Central Saint Martins’ annual White Show (where first-year BA students create a look out of white fabric) was inspired by the relationship between bordello (Spanish for brothel) girls and their clients, through the lens of Venus and the Virgin Mary.

What is the Bryan Yeo aesthetic?

I constantly use 3 words to describe my work and aesthetic. They are experimental, carefree and organic. To me, design is something very personal, it cannot be controlled or put in a box, it has to organically form and take shape, creating something that may or may not end up as what one would expect.

What drew you to your chosen field in the first place?

I developed an interest in textiles when I was doing a module back in Temasek Poly. Unfortunately, I was taught very basic methods of working with textiles and wanted to explore textures upon graduation. The main reason for this interest was the fact that I felt that memories and nostalgia can all be brought back via the act of touch. Essentially, the object becomes a storage space of cognitive memories and expressions. Which personally, in this modern, technology-heavy age, we as humans tend to lose.

An earlier work referencing the rise of new superbacteria that are resistant to even the most powerful of antibiotics.

What is the biggest challenge facing your field?

There is always the issue of the environment, especially with yarns, the whole process of dyeing and production has taken quite a toil on the environment. Its something that people are trying to work on. Trying to look for ethically sourced materials that has a large variety of finishes and colours.

How do you think you can contribute to your field?

I would like to think that I would be able to create fabrics and materials that are able to have certain qualities that could change how people in tropics see knit, exploring new ways of how yarns can be developed.

This article first appeared in the March 2020 print issue of FEMALE.