5 things to know about emerging Singaporean label Wai Yang

One to watch

Text: Jolene Khor

With youth, a defining taste for the singular and craftsmanship sampled from successful experimental designers on her side, Wai Yang is primed to be the next big thing

We all know someone who can write a paperback about making a grand entrance. You hear them before you see them, and their first step into a room is also the moment the energy in the room shifts. It's not just that all eyes inevitably move in their direction — their very presence hold breaths, commands whispers, inspire hearsay. 

Wai Yang, a Burmese fashion designer based in Singapore, is not one of those people.

Reticent and taciturn by nature, the 28-year-old prefers making noise with her clothes. Her eponymous line, though only a year old, had just shown at Singapore Fashion Week to rave reviews. And is it any wonder? While her peers are embroiled in a locally brewed scandal involving accusations of plagiarism, Wai Yang's contemporary detail-heavy collection, spearheaded by textured prints on paper-thin mixed fabrics grounded in androgynous cuts, is hailed as a breath of fresh air.

View in the gallery above, a sheer organza coat and a PVC box jacket. Two independent outerwear in design and piquancy, both furnished with 3D pockets to polarising effects. Then there's the falsely innocuous striped men's shirting that upon closer look, reveals a plastic-bonded collar and velvet-textured graphic. Also note, the double jersey bomber with floral marbling and ruched sleeves. Unisex. Unzips on the front and back.

With some cajolery, the shy designer tells us more about her education, design ethos and spring/summer inspirations in our interview after the jump.

Wai Yang

She counts several big international names as her mentors.
"I interned for Giles Deacon and Faustine Steinmetz before I began my eponymous label. I have always loved those emerging designers and I also look up to Charles Jeffrey and Alex Mullin; they have very interesting concepts and all of them have their own unique distinct identity."

But she began her fashion journey in Singapore.
"I'm Burmese but I moved to Singapore when I was 12. 
I studied fashion design at Raffles Design Institute and then textile design at London College of Fashion before I worked in D.C. Comics in Singapore for a year. That's where I learned about production."

Just like her heroes, she's heavy on experimentation.
"I'm most focused on textiles and using unconventional materials. So every season, you can expect me to experiment with new fabrics. For instance, this spring/summer, there's a lot of tyvek, a paper-like material commonly used in construction as well as plastic and velvet, bonded via heat press on organza and cotton. Last season, I used a lot of foiling techniques."

Her spring/summer 2018 collection is an amalgamation of her style with that of her best friend.
"My SS18 collection, Opposite Composite, is about the chemical reaction and composition when two very different elements, two very different people meet — my best friend Daniela and me. This collection is very much inspired by her. She loves Meadham Kirchhoff, she's over the top, super romantic and girly, lots of strong colours and ruffles, whereas I'm the more minimal one. My style is more masculine, more androgynous. 
In a way, you could say that she is the outer shell I am the inner soul. Two of us are entire opposites, yet we form a composite to make our friendship whole. I wanted to see what that would look like as a garment."

The first piece of clothing she's ever made...
"I was 19-years-old when I made leopard printed pyjamas to a friend's birthday party. And no, I don't wear them anymore!" [Laughs]

Wai Yang's spring/summer 2018 collection is available for pre-order.


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