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Impact 0422: Breaking gender stereotypes and using fashion for self-expression

Justin Chua · 4 March 2022
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Justin Chua is a 26-year-old fashion designer based in Singapore. Most of his works tend to remove gender ideals – not conforming to the stereotypes and restrictions assigned to men and women by society. His inspiration mainly comes from different architectural styles, where structural forms and functionality intersect. He translates these ideas through the details and craftsmanship of his designs. Today, he shares more about his craft!

Tell us more about what you do!

I am currently working full-time as a fashion design assistant for a local label here in Singapore, mainly helping with technical aspects from product development to drafting and sample making. I am also in the midst of launching my own label, CONCEPT : 20559 sometime mid-year. It is an extension from my graduate collection based on the concept of polymorphic designs. 

Polymorphic designs refer to any transformative garment or accessory designed in a way that the wearer can alter its appearance for functionality or aesthetic purposes. The garments can potentially have different transformative features, be it having more than one function or containing modularity aspects. The designs are not limited by gender boundaries as well.

What inspired you to start this?

To me, fashion and the way we dress have always been considered forms of identities and mediums of self-expression. With constant changes in the environment around us, I feel that the perception of fashion itself should also evolve in terms of how we can use them to address different issues surrounding us.

The label represents a shift in change, a new perspective in how I perceive the future of fashion as we move forward. It embraces ergonomic functionalism to create garments that consider how they interact with the human body. The garments are all value added with functionality in mind, made to be seamlessly incorporated into everyday lives. 

With the transformative aspects catering to different needs and crossing different gender boundaries, it will help to prolong the life and usage out of each individual piece.

Have you faced any challenges so far? How did you overcome them?

The main challenges often stem from me only having a design background. When it comes to managing the different business aspects of my own label, I am not able to be as efficient as I want to at the moment. There are a lot of things that I have yet to learn, but it will only get better over time and with more experience acquired.

Finances also play a huge role when it comes to launching my own label and having to manage that is also one of the biggest challenges. At this point, I have to take on more responsibilities and workload in order to ensure that I do not go over the budget. But I know that this is temporary as when the label starts to gain more traction, hopefully I can then start to delegate and outsource more work.

If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?

I think it is important to be honest with yourself, and set realistic expectations and achievable goals in order to feel progression on the journey itself rather than always having the feeling of playing catch-up. It is not an easy process, so being able to enjoy the journey is more important to me.

What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?

I hope local fashion designers and creatives are able to get more opportunities and platforms to showcase our designs. There are really many different great designers out here in Singapore that deserve having their work recognised, even globally. I also  look forward to seeing different communities within the creative space in Singapore form, and to hopefully grow together with them through different collaborations and projects.

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