The trio behind the label “Reckless Ericka”, Afton Chen, Ruth Marbun, and Louis Koh, have proven that they are showing no signs of slowing things down. From launching a new line “Odds by Reckless Ericka”, to the opening of their first boutique “The Reckless Shop” at the Stamford house recently, it is almost safe to say that they are nothing less than being ambitious. Telling us more about the label and the philosophy of their new line, the different tastes of music that they prefer, the trio-force behind Reckless Ericka reveals it all in our exclusive interview. By Luth Seah Zhiqiang
TSG: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Balancing classic tailoring with the edgy use of silhouettes and colours, and constructing avant-garde silhouettes with classic details. Infusing edginess and quirkiness into our brand’s identity and core.
TSG: What is the philosophy behind the new line “Odds by Reckless Ericka”?
‘Odds by Reckless Ericka’ is a chic, casual and street styled womenswear. Odds features drapes on jerseys that stresses on the basic silhouette, yet enhances the femininity of a woman. In this, we hope it will capture the youthfulness and energy of women. It is priced to reach out to the general masses.
TSG: Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and where you’re from, your environment while growing up?
Afton: I am Singaporean. Part of my childhood was spent in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) where I had some of my best memories. The school that I had attended (Kaohsiung American School) had nurtured the creative side in me with various projects and skits. I enjoyed designing my own costumes for the skits and that was when I discovered the fun in designing and clothes making. My parents have been amazingly supportive of me to pursue my dreams to allow me to continue my work and I am thankful for their love.
TSG: Was becoming a fashion designer what you always wanted to do in your life?
Afton & Ruth: Yes, it’s what we’ve always wanted to do.
TSG: Your designs have won you a sort of celebrity fan base that includes Adam Lambert, Sara Nuru, Rebecca Tan and Nadya Hutagalung. How do you feel about it?
We’re really glad to have the wonderful opportunity to be able to work with talented artistes like them. It was definitely a great experience.
TSG: Who has been the greatest influence on your career and who are your favourite designers?
Afton: Aitor Throup. I admire his fascinating work that pays huge attention to the anatomy of the human body, and his illustrations are really intriguing. My other favourite designers would be Ann Demeulemeester, Paul Poiret, Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen, Elsa Schiaparelli and Mihara Yasuhiro.
Ruth: My parents are my greatest influence for my career. It may sound cliché but it’s them that made me who I am today. To name one of my favourite designers would be Vivienne Westwood. I admire her madness and passion in everything she believes in.
TSG: How did You, Ruth and Louis meet?
Afton: 3 of us met in school!
TSG: Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure who has guided or influenced you?
We are truly grateful to Nic Wong and Daniel Boey.
TSG: How different is working on your own, compared to working with others?
When working on your own, you have to be conscientious in managing your time as the line blurs between your personal life and work. A lot of overtime work involved, but we love our brand!
TSG: Do you think the best creative work is developed in private without too much outside influence?
Afton: Creative work is best when there’re more heads involved in the thinking process because the design will turn out to be a melting pot of styles, cultures and artistic viewpoints.I don’t have a fixed, single object of influence or inspiration, because inspiration is the strangest thing! It comes from everywhere, in any form and best of all, it springs up when you least expected.
Ruth: I think the best creative works are always the ones that come sincerely from the heart with all the passion.
TSG: Who would be the ideal public ambassador for the brand? And why?
Afton: Patti Smith.
Ruth: Karen Elson will be great. Simply because I love her. With Jefferson Hack. That will be awesome.
Louis: Johnny Depp, he is quirky!
TSG: How do you find your materials, and what goes into your decisions when putting them together?
We make bi-annual trips overseas for fabric hunting. We wouldn’t want to limit ourselves so we keep an open mind while looking. We love the challenge of piecing the materials together and set the mind ticking and decide when we have everything in front of us.
TSG: In no more than five words, what does beauty represent to you?
TSG: What is your choice of music?
Afton: Swing big band arranger Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, and British rock from the 60s and 70s (The Beatles, The Kinks, Joy Division, The Who, Queen, Siouxsie and the Banshees). Music has always been one of the sources of inspiration for me. There’s always something about the musical arrangements, vocal harmonies, and lyrics that intrigues me in a way that I can’t simply put it to words.
Ruth: I’m more a band person though I listen to many kinds of music. I’m into the oldies, a bit stuck in the nineties, and love to surprise my self with new ones. To name a few: Bob Dylan, The Smiths, The Kinks, Jamie T, Two Door Cinema Club. And I love to sing and dance to music!
Louis: Pop rock, because it keeps me happy. The Killers
TSG: If you could live in any time period, what period would you choose and why?
Afton: I love it now but if I had to choose, it would be the Roaring Twenties. I am fascinated with the sudden dynamic changes in the social, arts, music and fashion scenes that are so different from the Victorian lifestyle. This was also when modern fashion was created and I would love to attend Marchesa Casati’s masquerade balls.
TSG: What’s the best and worst thing about being a young designer in Singapore?
Best: The Singapore retail industry today is definitely opening up to young local designers and labels and there has been great support from organisations like SPRING Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board and Design Singapore backing our industry. Worst: We yearn for more acceptance and better education about local designers to the consumers.
TSG: What has the industry taught you?
Afton: To have hope, as it is a positive expectation of good!
Ruth: Many things. How to be tough on decisions and compromise at the same time.
Louis: Taught me to be truthful to the brand and it never hurts to go the extra mile.
TSG: In your opinion, what’s a designer’s role in the current economic climate?
It’s easy to lament and blame the effects of recession, but instead of doing so, a designer should look into re-branding or restructuring to appeal and stay above the crowd.
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The Reckless Shop Stamford House, #01-03 Tel: +65 6338 8246