When fashion meets tradition – Wilsen Willim

This is the inspiring story of a designer who has never forgotten its origins making the ancient traditions of its land of origin contemporary. Clean lines and elegant colors inspired by the traditions of the Island of Riau. Here is what Wilsen Willim tells us about his background.

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“I was born in Indonesia in a medical background family. At the age of 11 I moved to Singapore to pursue my study and live with my grandmother who is a tailor. I began taking interest in sewing ever since I moved with my grandmother in Singapore.

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About two years ago when I was 22, I joined a competition (harper’s bazaar Asia new gen award) and won the competition which then raised interest to the brand and created the brand. The brand were picked the very first time by GOODS DEPARTMENT , an alternative hip store in Indonesia and the brand continued growing with GOODSDEPT . The brand is currently available in 5 different GOODSDEPT locations in Jakarta, Fenwick Bond street London, and a few more other Middle East and Japan boutique.”

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What’s the concept of your latest collecton?
I was inspired by the simplest and the most relatable theme, which this season happens to be a humble sailing boat and lobsters. A tradition of fishing lobster that runs through my Chinese-Indonesian heritage of Kepulauan Riau (Island of Riau).
I translated the inspiration through the usage of paper origami that I have been using since my very first collection. I like origami because it’s young and fun while at the same time, relatable.

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What inspires you the most?
I am often inspired by everyday life and nature. I was inspired also by my past memory, looking back at old photos of my parents and I, that’s where the very first origami and paper cut fringe started. I believe that past memory is a topic close to everyone’s heart, that’s why the clothing that I made is easily related personally to each and every customer. Lastly, I am often inspired by art; I try my best to work with artist as often as possible and also my inspiration comes from books and art museum. Historic art is one of my biggest inspirations also because I could imagine the lifestyle and behavior of the people during that time and it helps me understand the evolution of fashion, everything has a reason.

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How does the place you live in affects your design?
The place that I live in is a very busy and business environment , everyone is dress formal most of the time , therefore a blend of youth into a very formal clothing creates a diverse feel into the mood , it’s a reminder of youth movement. On the contrary, the place I work in is very family oriented, my tailors and my team inspires me to be much more ethical with everything that I do with my label. They also taught me about the traditional fabrics of Indonesia which I would hope to work with in the future.

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What’s the future of fashion?
The future of fashion is changing so much especially this decade. The movement of online and social media has change so much. The future of fashion would split into so many categories with each and every movement having a different crowd of interest. For example, the trendy movement which has been done by many designers and also a different crowd who does the heritage movement that embraces history and culture. I personally embrace lifestyle of fashion and function of garments. Sustainability would also be one of the core movements. Every designer would strive to be as sustainable as possible in the future event though it’s impossible to reach a 100% sustainability percentage.

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What’s your next project?
My next project is to try exploring more textiles; I am trying to explore more fabrics like wool and cashmere and hopefully use Indonesian traditional fabric. The brand would also try to be more sustainable with the products.