The topic of gender has long been an ongoing conversation that has shaped up to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist. Particularly in the fashion domain, it has been a popularly expounded theme — designers like John Galliano sent men down the runway in garters, Jean Paul Gautier dressed men in skirts and Marc Jacobs himself wore a pink polo dress.
Whether clothes determine gender has been the question in discussion and throughout time, fashion has proven that the line is blurred. Inaugurated last month, streetwear label W.A.S. (acronym for We Are Special) birth out of Singapore endeavours to do the same.
Its founder is Brian Ang, a fashion industry luminary who has been in the business for 32 years. Ang is best known as the man who launched Hugo Boss’s first standalone boutique in in Singapore, in 1986. It was also the German’s brand first in the world.
The W.A.S.’s mission statement reads, “Representation of a generation that has assimilated the codes of true freedom — one that is free of manifestos and questions about gender.” Gripping and resonant to the cultural zeitgeist, W.A.S., makes a greater statement beyond aesthetics. “W.A.S. is a brand above gender. It is a wardrobe that is in touch with the voice on the streets,” says 63-year-old Ang, who is also the brand’s image director.
W.A.S.’s gender transient preposition is built from archetypal streetwear pieces that run the gamut from hoodies and sweatshirts to joggers and shorts. The brand’s debut collection is entirely monochrome (save for hints of colour) with a heavy use of logos and needless to say, unisex.
“Genderless, monochrome palette and the use of logo were some of the parameter of our design process. We wanted clothes that were simple yet effective in delivering our message and we want people to buy our clothes because it represents who they are,” says Ang.
In a rather conservative Asian society, the conception of W.A.S. plays a pivotal role in the city’s social fabric. It is clothing conceived for what Ang describes as a “generation which starts out as an outsider and eventually forms the in-crowd.”
The debutant 14-piece collection is W.A.S.’s radical yet wearable wardrobe for a generation that subscribes to a new way of living. “I believe that clothes have a real impact in shifting the perspective of the millennial generation. I consider my designs as important as the jeans were to the hippies in the ’60 s,” says Ang.
Unlike anything that has infiltrated the local fashion scene, W.A.S. is ready to set in motion a band of fashion renegades who defy the conventions of gender.
Currently only available for purchase online, Ang has grand plans for the future of the brand. “We are Singapore by origin but we want to grow into a global brand,” he says.
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