The Asian taste: interview with MAX TAN, a designer to watch

I saw his designs in a magazine, a while ago. Black and white, clean cut pieces which draw my the attention in a second. I must say I loved the idea of experiments with quirk cuts and the masculinity and femininity and I was even curious to find out more about the designer behind the brand MAX.TAN when I found out it is a Singaporean one (the place I love a lot!) Therefore, when I saw the new looks of the Spring/Summer 2017 MAX TAN collection, as well in black and white, with interesting cuts and volumes, I knew I should find out more about the designer and his work. (CLICK on the gallery above, for more pictures)

The collections of Max Tan could be found on
Instagram // @maxtanstudio.

Max Tan: “For Spring/Summer 2017 collection I am inspired by a childhood memory, the street operas that flooded the streets of Singapore when I was younger.”

Therefore, I got the chance to talk to the young fresh designer Max Tan about the story of his new collection, the influences in fashion, the trends and Asian fashion path in the new world of beautiful cuts.

Tell me about the defining features of your SS17 collection. What we are going to wear next summer?
The label has always been about deconstruction, reconstruction, sophisticated but rebellious at the same time. For this season, we wanted to explore the current androgyny movement further by focussing on the details itself. What makes a detail feminine/masculine? How can we change them?
Through this exploration, feminine flounces and ruffles are made structural, corsetry lace work details are applied onto masculine denim jackets and shirt dresses. Masculine shoulders are being slopped and softened.

What is the story of this collection? How does the first sketch appeared on your table?  
The collection itself is inspired by the androgyny movement that we are observing on the runways now; stronger and more masculine collections for womenswear and softer, more fun and some feminine silhouettes for menswear. As you might have noticed by now, our collections are never in sync with the overtly feminine side of things. Clean lines, drapes, geometrical cuts, deconstruction/reconstruction is what defines MAX.TAN.
We (the design team) wanted to challenge ourselves by using details that we do not normally use; ruffles, corsetry lacework, fringe dresses. What first appeared in our collages which we then translate to sketches are a series of visual references that are ultra feminine.

Why are you using black and white, mainly, in your pieces?
Because the line mainly focusses on the concept and the shape of the garments itself, we feel the lack of colours actually bring out the silhouette more. The eye then focusses on the garment itself rather than the colour, print, or any other embellishment/surface treatment. That said, sometimes we do use colours. However we use them in an entire block rather than accents.

What is your signature-piece in every of your collections? 
A clean cut shirt.

What are your major influences in fashion?
I really like the 80s where the Japanese designers take Paris by storm in their black, shapeless but highly intelligent garments. That was a pivotal point in fashion and it serves to inspire a lot of designers (not just fashion) up to today. I think the whole anti-fashion really started then.

You were one of the few Asian young designers  who have presented collections in Europe (Amsterdam). What makes Asian fashion different from Western European fashion? 
Considering the global city that we all live in, in this digital age, there is really no geographical boundaries anymore, and it is not evident in the work that fashion designers in different continents produce.
The Asian continent is made up of so many diverse cultural references and races. With that, comes different cultural/heritage costumes. I do think one element that makes something Asian is the simple geometrical way we cut our garments. From the rectangular sarongs from south east asian, to the rectangular blocks of a kimono, the idea of simple/reduced construction is evident in our works.

What you are have in mind for the next collection?
I am inspired by a childhood memory, the street operas that flooded the streets of Singapore when I was younger. The contrast between the soft ombre makeup on face and the graphical lifeworks of the brows and hair. The make-shift setup and stage on stilts. So many elements and inspirations to draw from. I am still in the midst of collaging and coming up with the concept.

The 5 pieces everybody should have anytime are…
A crisp clean shirt, a well fitted jacket, a pair of palazzo, slim fitted pants and a teeshirt. All in black or white, all classics. You can never go wrong with them.

Max Tan designer interview

MAX TAN. The debut collection Spring Summer 2010 Ready to Wear collection was listed as the top ten Spring Summer 2010 collection from premier trend reporting and forecasting website The striking DNA has put MAX.TAN in the forefront as one of Asia’s rising avant-garde designers. The brand has showcased at Amsterdam Fashion Week (Cutting Edge Platform Show), emerged Silver award winner at the China Fashion creation contest in 2010 and more recently, showcased it’s Spring Summer 2016 collection at Vogue Italia’s inaugural edition of Who is on Next?Dubai.

Worldwide web // Instagram // @maxtanstudio #maxtan Facebook // maxtansingapore 

Photography: MAX.TAN


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