To any environmental fashion enthusiast who appreciates a simple style: Monokerom is for you. The local clothing brand offers laidback yet chic daily essentials that combine comfort and practicality for the modern man and woman. But don't let them fool you; beneath their uncomplicated silhouettes are intricate designs that toe the line between the traditional and functional. Below, we talked to Monokerom on their thoughts on fast fashion, building a brand around the conscious consumer and how to avoid unnecessary textile waste in their own way.
What is the idea behind the name 'Monokerom' and how does that relate to your brand's story?
We took inspiration from the word ‘monochrome’ which translates to different shades and tones of one colour. The garments we produce are designed in such a way that makes them versatile and unfettered by trends. By doing so, we believe that a single piece can be worn in a myriad of ways, occasions, and styles–a somewhat similar concept to the word. To give it a hint of authenticity, we played around with the spelling a little.
How has your brand balanced being both simple in approach and detailed at the same time?
When it comes to designing a garment, we make an effort to pare a design down to its true essence, removing anything that we feel is nonessential. We often seek classic silhouettes that are still modern, with a style that transcends time and place. In addition to that, we take great care in making sure that our clothing remains practical and functional–like adding pockets, be it hidden or oversized, to most if not all of our garments for instance. It is our hope that by creating mindfully, we can focus on craftmanship, and reduce waste to form the basis for a modular wardrobe.
Minimalism is a huge part of your brand — can you share the strides Monokerom has made to become a more mindful and sustainable brand?
Before we had even begun Monokerom, we knew that we wanted to create something that was beyond just selling garments. We wanted to be driven by a bigger purpose, and that is to advocate mindful consumption and encourage the public to forsake the excessive and disposable view of clothing that we have unfortunately grown to be used to.
We aim to produce clothing that is functional yet doesn’t sacrifice style and/or the attitude of the wearer. We don’t believe in following the ever-evolving trends as it ultimately leads to waste. Instead, we hold strong to our brand philosophy of minimalism, practicality and comfort as it encourages us to focus on what is important. By continuing to put the value of mindful consumption in all our practices, we hope to create garments that transcend time, culture and genders.
We still have a long way to go and a lot more to learn, but it has indeed been an interesting and fulfilling journey for us.
...[W]e knew that we wanted to create something that was beyond just selling garments. We wanted to be driven by a bigger purpose, and that is to advocate mindful consumption and encourage the public to forsake the excessive and disposable view of clothing that we have unfortunately grown to be used to.
What has been the biggest milestone for you as a brand so far?
We got invited to Singapore to showcase our products at a trade show.
What has been a hurdle for you as a brand and how did you overcome it?
One of the hurdles that we faced was finding the right balance between producing and creating what we love, and what will do well in the market. It was tough especially in the beginning, but we overcame it by slowly improving and strengthening our brand's identity. This, in turn, had allowed us to build better connections with our customers.
Tell us more about your creative process such as the concept behind each piece, your artistic direction and the like.
Our design process typically begins with the creation of a mood board of things that we are inspired by. This then leads to the sketching of designs, and from there, we will choose the ones we want to materialise and produce. Fabric selection comes next, and we make a conscious effort to select natural fibres as they are friendlier on the environment and have longer lifetimes. Minor tweaks to the designs may be done after the fabric selection and before we proceed with producing the garments domestically.
What are the top 3 closet essentials that you think everyone should have?
A white shirt (for layering or worn by itself), well-fitted black pants and an oversized outer/jacket.
What do you think the local fashion industry is missing or need more of and how does Monokerom plan to fill this gap?
We believe the local fashion industry needs more voices to speak about sustainability and slow fashion. With that said, however, you can see that there has been a rise of local brands that are heading more towards sustainable and ethical fashion. Many independent designers and labels are starting to shift towards the aforementioned as the public becomes more and more aware of the environment. We plan to continue being a part of this movement by using our platform to share about the matter while implementing our own process in making our supply chain more environmentally friendly at the same time.
You've also mentioned that you aim to "make people connect with your clothes." In your opinion, how can a brand foster genuine connections with its customers through its products?
The best way for a brand to foster genuine connections with their customers is by staying true to who they are and being honest about what they stand for; by continuously using their platforms to share and being candid about their beliefs.
Please share 3 tips on how people can maximize their minimalist wardrobe!
Discover your personal style and build a modular wardrobe unique to you.
Take great care of your garments to increase their lifetimes.
Invest in staple items that can be worn in a multitude of ways and for differing occasions.
What forms of art and culture are Monokerom constantly inspired by?
Since we live in a multicultural country, there is plenty to be inspired by. We often take elements from the different cultures we see on the daily and/or grew up with into account when it comes to designing a new collection. There have been instances where a silhouette of a garment was taken inspiration from the architecture of a building, colours selected based on what we see in nature. We also generally admire the Japanese culture and their way of life, hence you may notice that some of our designs have elements from their culture as well.
Lastly, what does Monokerom hope to achieve as a brand?
Other than achieving international brand awareness, we hope to create an everlasting
presence that goes beyond just a clothing brand. We thrive to be the voice of slow fashion, and to create a movement that will educate the public and encourage them to start conversations about the matter.