ROSEN – Our Made-to-Order Collection

September 18, 2017

by Gracia Ventus



Plato overshirt and Locke shorts; choose between Japanese wool gabardine and cotton twill

This blog was created more than eight years ago, and I started selling second hand designer clothes on ebay over five years ago. It has been a very long journey, many of my readers have been with me since the beginning and I cannot be thankful enough for sticking with me throughout the years. Having been a lone wolf all of these years, I have finally found Daniel, my business partner with whom I can work to diversify the store offerings. Together we are very pleased to present our own ROSEN collection - made-to-order garments that are genderless, fuss-free and meant to be worn with our favourite designers. Between the both of us, our taste range from the Japanese masters all the way back to 90s minimalist Prada and 80s oversized garments. We pride ourselves in choosing fabrics that are slightly experimental with our technical cottons, to luxurious opium-den aesthetics such as sandwashed silks and cashmeres.




Plato shirt in sandwashed silk; soon available in cashmere blend



Hume coat worn over Plato shirt

All garments are available here

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In Which I Grappled with Japan’s Dark History

August 21, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

Issey Miyake Fushimi Inari

It was seven in the morning when I decided to head south of my Airbnb apartment. Clad in full lycra suit, I started with a slow jog to wake myself up. As I was still getting acquainted with this city, I had little idea what to expect down south.

I ran along the embankments of Kamo River, away from the city centre. Quaint wooden houses gave way to factories, dilapidated warehouses and parks in various states of disrepair. Not the kind of things you see when you’re googling images of Kyoto. Like any other city, there are always the good and the bad, even if the common impression of Japan is a land of pruned greeneries and absolute cleanliness. A lone sarariman sat by the river, hunched, head in his lap, dress shoes unworn and placed next to him. I wonder if he’d just found out he’s been fired, or that his wife had just left him. He didn’t seem that chipper.

Past overgrown trees. A van was parked on a rickety bridge over a canal. It’s like finding out that your new partner is not that perfect after all. Deep down inside you know no-one is perfect, but at some point the veil is eventually lifted and you discover the specific ways a person is insane. It either makes them more endearing and the relationship more genuine, or it becomes a complete turn-off.

Some twenty minutes later, I ran past a train station with a recognisable name. And so with a different sort of enthusiasm that rotting wood cannot provide, I followed the directions provided, feeling as if someone just responded ‘Polo’ to my subconscious ‘Marco’. At a little before eight o’clock, I reached the grounds of a vast shrine. Hardly anyone was about at this time of the day. I looked around to see if I should pay an entrance fee. No signs of it so far. Ran past sporadic tourists with selfie sticks - surprised they still haven't disappeared off the face of the earth yet. With every set of staircase ascended, my excitement grew.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Torii Gates

Almost without any warning, they appeared within my sight. To say that I was surprised to see the famous red Torii gates looming before me was an understatement. There I was, standing in my lycra suit, looking completely out of place underneath these magnificent vermillion structures. Brilliantly varnished, the surface of the wooden gates reflected golden sunlight of the morning while simultaneously creating shadow plays as they snaked their way up the gentle slope of Mount Inari. 

It is against the backdrop of this surreal serenity that I couldn't fathom how the Japanese empire was capable of inflicting heinous violence only matched by the Third Reich. The West knew of Pearl Harbour, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. While Germany was incarcerating Jews across Europe, the Japanese Imperial Army swooped across China, Korea and Southeast Asia. Like the tornado of death leaving utter senseless destruction in its path, they killed millions of men, raped equally as many women, and bayoneted more children and elderly than leaving them alive.

A pall of death hung over the yard. Her son was on his knees, the bloody stump of his neck resting on the ground, a stream of fresh blood snaking along the ground; his head, a look of fear frozen on the face, sat perfectly upright in front of his torso. Her husband was gnawing a brick on the path […] A mixture of grey matter and bright red blood from a gaping wound in the back of his head stained the path around him. - Big Breasts and Wide Hips, by Mo Yan

Issey Miyake Fushimi Inari

While every country has her own historical biases, simple cross referencing would easily yield a clear picture of Japan’s brutalities during World War II. Having had the privilege of receiving history lessons in both Indonesia and Singapore - both of which were seized from their respective Western colonial masters when Japanese forces swooped down the Malayan peninsula - I was instilled with a less than rosy image of Japan’s wartime records. But one does not truly have the capacity to fully comprehend the gravitas of history - it also didn’t help that the history lessons had to be kept PG-13 - when one was a mere teenager dealing with other pressing issues puberty had to offer. If anything, I had shoved history to the back of my head.

That is, until I moved to China.

With a few more reminders from fictional works by Chinese writer Mo Yan, and Christian Bale’s ‘The Flowers of Nanjing’, I decided to dive deeper into the historical records of Japanese war crimes. To say that I wanted to weep for humanity was an understatement.

By the 1930s, Japan went from an isolationist nation to a power-hungry military force. It took them less than a century to build their might. Out of fear of being subjugated by Western powers like China, Japan decided that they too would learn from the Europeans - specifically the colonial nations who had been gobbling up Africa and Southeast-Asia. To avoid being devoured, one must do the devouring first. None of this was out of the norm at the time. Before World War II, Japan had occupied regions of China and Korea, and their treatment of occupied territories were no harsher than other colonial powers. However, it took a sharp turn for the worse as the world divided itself into Allied and Axis powers. In their pursuit for regional dominance, the Japanese Imperial Army did not spare any effort to flex their capabilities. If the fictional gore of Game of Thrones makes one queasy, I’m afraid reality can in fact be much worse.

Warning: disturbing descriptions ahead

Kyoto Ginkakuji

Many months ago, I went to Nanjing and visited the war memorial. While I wasn’t too impressed by the propagandic tone of the texts (Chinese Communist Party is very good at that, to my amusement and chagrin), the historical evidence of the Nanjing massacre was not easy to swallow. This was corroborated by first-hand accounts of foreigners who were stationed in China and locals who managed to survive.

In order to break down the resistance of Chinese Nationalist army, Japanese troops had to show their enemies what they were capable of. Chinese soldiers who had surrendered were killed immediately. Civilians - men, women, children, the elderly - were rounded up and became target practices for sword fighting and bayonets. Others were burnt or buried alive. Ironically, the Japanese were so brutal in their invasion that a German Nazi helped to establish and headed the Nanjing Safety Zone, protecting thousands of Chinese civilians. Many women suffered fates worse than death. While benign misogyny is ever present in Japanese society, when mixed in with xenophobia, it became the recipe for unreserved violence against women. Over ten thousand in Nanjing were raped, then mutilated and killed. But at least their ordeal were over fairly quickly.

Because compared to the suffering that ‘comfort women’ went through, death - even when prefaced by rape - would have been welcomed like a gentle flame in the coldest winter. Across Japanese-occupied territories - three of them I’ve called home; one I was born in, one I grew up in, one I am currently living in - hundreds of thousands of women as young as seventeen were removed from their families and forced to work in Japanese brothels. They were given Japanese names and lost all semblance self-identity. It wasn’t enough for them to resign to their fate. These girls had to feign interest while they were raped day and night by Japanese soldiers, or risk torture and death. Once a week, they were subjected to humiliating physical examinations that involved being raped by the physician - in full view of other soldiers who wished to amuse themselves.

The women cried out, but it didn't matter to us whether the women lived or died. We were the emperor's soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance. - Veteran Japanese soldier Yasuji Kaneko to The Washington Post.

Issey Miyake Fushimi Inari

Wearing: Issey Miyake coat, Madame-T shawl, trousers; Ann Demeulemeester boots

Somewhere in Manchuria, China - now known as Dongbei, or North-east - there is a building called Unit 731. It was once used as a top secret site for the Japanese military to learn about human physiology; built in pursuit of scientific knowledge and medical advancements - which sounded rather noble until the boundaries of ethics and consideration for human lives were removed. Forget health and safety procedures, or even mild electric shocks.

Without any form of anaesthesia - in their full consciousness - civilians and prisoners of war were amputated and bled to death; or dissected by having their organs removed and reattached in odd places - fully alive; or injected with sea water into their blood stream or horse urine into their kidneys. Others would be infected with diseases such as the bubonic plague and anthrax. Many others would be denied food and water in order to find out how long humans can last without sustenance before they die. Syphilis was a particularly cumbersome problem that plagued the troops because of their visits to the brothels, so the doctors needed to come up with a cure. Syphilis carriers would be forced to copulate with each other so that the doctors would have impregnated mothers and babies to carry out their tests on, each one possibly carrying the disease. Babies too became test subjects. None survived.

While men were only used in bacteriological and physiological experiments, women had to endure those in addition to sex experiments and rape at the whims of the staff.

I believed and acted this way because I was convinced of what I was doing. We carried out our duty as instructed by our masters. We did it for the sake of our country. From our filial obligation to our ancestors. On the battlefield, we never really considered the Chinese humans. When you're winning, the losers look really miserable. We concluded that the Yamato race [i.e., Japanese] was superior. - Uno Shintaro, Japanese Army officer who served in China.

Kyoto GinkakujiKyoto Ginkakuji

Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion)

Having normalised genocide across China, the Japanese army no longer had any qualms about mutilating civilians and prisoners of wars across Southeast Asia. Many were forced to work on labour camps under hot blazing sun and humidity of the tropical jungles with very little sustenance. Killing was rampant, to say the least, which involved hacking limbs off first before the bayonet went through the heart, with celebratory photographs taken afterwards. Cannibalism - though not rampant - took on a festive occasion, in which fried human flesh was washed down with sake. Some of the worst massacres and atrocities were carried out right before Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan in 1945. As if sensing their imminent defeat, the soldiers projected their hopelessness and humiliation onto the defenceless, shedding what was left of their humanity.

Kyoto Inari Mountain Bamboo Grove

I returned later in the afternoon to Fushimi Inari shrine, out of my spandex suit and into Issey Miyake’s pleats which felt more appropriate in this sacred grounds dedicated to the Shinto god of rice. Within a span of two hours, throngs of tourists have descended, which made me grateful that I had accidentally stumbled into this place at a far quieter time. Halfway up the climb I took a detour up a small staircase, not knowing where it led to. Past another small shrine, forests, bamboo groves, fox carvings - phone signal getting weaker until I was completely cut away from communications network - accompanied only by peace and silence, I arrived at a secluded spot that overlooked Kyoto. One couldn’t help but to fall in love with this city. From its historical palaces and shrines, to the preservation of kimonos, traditional cooking style, tea ceremonies and even confectionaries, Kyoto is a wonderful place to get a glimpse of old Japan. Though not a vegan, this is also where I discovered the joy of going meatless, eggless, and dairy-less. If one avoids the downtown area and Instagrammable spots, it is easy to find one’s personal quiet spot to think, read and write.

Stardust Cafe Kyoto

Vegan cake from Stardust Cafe

No matter how much I love this country as a source of inspiration and travel destination, I am also aware of its dark history. One may argue that Germany was equally cruel, but what made their history tolerable is their willingness to admit and atone. Japan, on the other hand, still flip flops on official apologies, its leaders have been hesitant in acknowledging the full extent of the country’s wrongdoings, and barely a full account was written in Japan’s history lessons. Unlike the Germans who have come to accept their ancestors’ wrongdoings and are fully aware of them, Japan has not learnt to do so. Germany has built a Holocaust Memorial to commemorate the deaths of fallen Jews. Japan, on the other hand, had included military leaders who gave the orders to slaughter millions of civilians in the Yasukuni war shrine. Much like the characters in Murakami’s novels, it is easier to shuffle forward than to risk friction. Life goes on. The dark past is swept under the rug while on the surface everything is fantastically rosy.

There are two sides to every coin in every facet of existence. While it's tempting to simply ignore the undesirable aspects of any entity, having an awareness of both the good and the bad makes a relationship with a person, culture, or belief more genuine. It helps us avoid being delusional about the subject we have fallen in love with. And it doesn't get any truer in this case, in which I have accepted the ways a society can be mad, while maintaining respect for the good things it has cultivated throughout the course of history.

Issey Miyake Fushimi Inari

Bibliography and further reading:

- Comprehensive list of Japanese war crimes in World War II
- Unit 371, a summary
- Sex Crimes Propagated at Unit 731 During the Pacific War
- The International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone: An Introduction

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In Which My Adventures in Kyoto Taught Me to Appreciate Shadows

July 27, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

Alexander Wang H&M Rad Hourani in Kyoto

Kyoto Adventure - Part Two

The rooms at the Waranjiya are about nine feet square, the size of a comfortable little tearoom, and the alcove pillars and ceilings glow with a faint smoky luster, dark even in the light of the lamp.

It was 9PM and I was sitting in a cafe next to the embankment of Kamo River, the beating heart of Kyoto. This place, though slightly Scandinavian with its interior decoration, still paid its dues to traditional Japanese aesthetics. During the day, the floor to ceiling windows were left wide open to let in cool breeze and sunlight, while allowing one to appreciate the sights of gently flowing water. At night, the lighting is yellow and dim, casting shadows amongst trinkets and furniture. One couldn’t help but to feel comfortably drowsy when bathed in such gentle illumination.

It had been a long day that involved plenty of walking. I got acquainted with traditional Kyoto confectionaries (matcha! chestnuts! matcha! red beans! matcha!) in every new block I found myself in; cursed at the huge throngs of tourists blocking my way in every temple and castles; and marvelled at the narrow alleys that reminded me of Beijing’s hutongs, often bathed in darkness that hides secret bars, restaurants and tea houses.


The old Gion street that leads to new Gion

As a general matter we find it hard to be really at home with things that shine and glitter. The Westerner uses silver and steel and nickel tableware, and polishes it to a fine brilliance, but we object to the practice. While we do sometimes indeed use silver for teakettles, decanters, or sake cups, we prefer not to polish it. On the contrary, we begin to enjoy it only when the luster has worn off, when it has begun to take on a dark, smoky patina. Almost every householder has had to scold an insensitive maid who has polished away the tarnish so patiently waited for.

Of course this “sheen of antiquity” of which we hear so much is in fact the glow of grime. In both Chinese and Japanese the words denoting this glow describe a polish that comes of being touched over and over again, a sheen produced by the oils that naturally permeate an object over long years of handling—which is to say grime. If indeed “elegance is frigid,” it can as well be described as filthy. […] I suppose I shall sound terribly defensive if I say that Westerners attempt to expose every speck of grime and eradicate it, while we Orientals carefully preserve and even idealize it. Yet for better or for worse we do love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them. Living in these old houses among these old objects is in some mysterious way a source of peace and repose.

Alexander Wang H&M Rad Hourani in Kyoto

Wearing: Alexander Wang x H&M jacket, Rad Hourani vest, Nike Air Uptempo sneakers

Kyoto - being the ancient capital of Japan and now its cultural capital - boasts many traditional wooden homes that have stood the test of time. This beautiful city was once considered as the drop site for one of the nuclear bombs because of its urban industrial area and it was home to many universities. The committee of American military generals, army officers and scientists "thought the people there would be able to understand that an atomic bomb was not just another weapon - that it was almost a turning point in human history."⠀

If historical records were to be trusted, Kyoto was single-handedly saved by the Secretary of War Henry Stimson who went directly to President Truman after failing to convince the committee to choose another site. He had visited Kyoto a few times before the war and fallen in love with this city that is now home to more than 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, a sentiment I completely understood and shared with him. Being a person who doesn't really do proper research beforehand, I stepped into the city not knowing what to expect. I went home feeling a little more hopeful about life and humanity - grateful for the existence of Masters who had crafted art and architecture throughout history. ⠀


A Midsummer's Repose by Kamo River

And so it has come to be that the beauty of a Japanese room depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows—it has nothing else. Westerners are amazed at the simplicity of Japanese rooms, perceiving in them no more than ashen walls bereft of ornament. Their reaction is understandable, but it betrays a failure to comprehend the mystery of shadows. […] when we gaze into the darkness that gathers behind the crossbeam, around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter silence; that here in the darkness immutable tranquility holds sway.


Downtown Kyoto / Uptown Kyoto

The author Junichiro Tanizaki held the virtues of Japanese aesthetics in such high esteem that he devoted several paragraphs to describing the pleasures and meditative qualities of spending time in a traditional Japanese toilet. In the old days, they were housed in wooden structures - located separately from the main building - which allowed one to look out upon blue skies and green leaves. He even went so far as to speculate that great Haiku poets came by their ideas while indulging in the physiological delights of being encompassed in the wooden tranquility.

From electrical lighting to scientific advancements and hospitals, Tanizaki wondered what these inventions would be like had they been spearheaded by the Chinese and Japanese, who have a contrasting temperament and approach to beauty compared to the West. It is almost too easy to dismiss his romanticism for another old person’s rose-tinted view of the past, especially one articulated with undertones of racial stereotypes, but one cannot help feeling that their forebears’ steadfast poetic touch in every facets of life has culminated in a design and lifestyle perspective that is uniquely Japanese, such as the famous smart toilets ubiquitous only in modern Japan. Had China not gone through the Cultural Revolution, she might have been less inclined to pursue the same artificial glitz as the West, and be more willing to incorporate her own intellectual and artistic history in the pursuit of modernity.⠀

While I am not one to harp on and on about the superiority of travel over material goods, I do think it's important to get out of one's comfort zone. President Truman himself couldn't be arsed to consider the cultural significance of Kyoto for the Japanese people because he'd never experienced the city. It was easy for him to dismiss Japan entirely based on the cruel actions that its leaders had mandated. The importance of travel for the sake of travel has never been more evident in this instance. ⠀


The neighbourhood I stayed in

It was 5:45 AM when the sun started to rise. The flight to Kyoto was scheduled to depart at a little after six. I had only slept for two hours the night before but I was far too excited to feel drowsy. The light of dawn broke through the glass walls, illuminating the airport lounge with fiery orange glow. My first trip to Kyoto was marked with a poignant start.

Living in Shanghai has given me the chance to see more of East Asia because it's just 2-3 hours away from major historical and cultural sites of the region - from China to Japan, Taiwan to Hong Kong. The more solo travels I do, the more I grow dependent on fuss-free, highly-utilitarian garments. This is not to say that I have abandoned my high priestess-space warrior clothes, I still bring them with me in my travels. However, the process of getting to and fro requires clothing that allows for maximum mobility while minimising hindrance, especially on trips where I’m lugging 20kg of clothes and food. In the past, loose, billowy clothing have served me well, and they still do. However, as I started to incorporate sportswear into my daily and travel wear, I have learned to appreciate the joy of technical, synthetic garments. They are often airy and breathable for summer, or warm and water-resistant for colder seasons. Fabric weight and characteristics are technicals issues that have to be thoroughly considered at all times. Too light, and it feels cheap. Too substantial, and it becomes a hindrance. The point where technology and fashion collide has become a breeding ground for creative minds. Which is how I found myself collaborating with Daniel to build VELAMEN. Daniel is a product and industrial designer who is no stranger to fashion, having collaborated with the menswear designer Peir Wu and also produces his own garments via We aim to build a range of technical apparels and products, going so far as to ordering custom-made fabrics that would be suitable for the needs of urban nomads. In short, we are making techwear. However, unlike most techwear brands made for the male audience that women have to co-opt, we aim to create a unisex range of clothes on the get go. It has been an incredible learning experience, in which I discovered the nitty gritty of technical fabrics, specialised constructions and to a certain extent, ergonomics.

Running around Kyoto, fully garbed in synthetics, one cannot help but feel a little disconcerted amongst historical grandiosity and weathered dwellings. The old and the new, the rigid and the fluid. It is a sense of discomfort that forces one to rethink one’s position and outlook in this world.

Alexander Wang H&M Rad Hourani in Kyoto

End of Kyoto Adventure - Part 2

All excerpts from In Praise of Shadows, by Junichiro Tanizaki


In Which I Write About A Series of Adventures in Japan – Part One

July 19, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

Issey Miyake Madame T

I sat by the window typing these words, accompanied by the gentle roar of the river blending with the harmonious beats of Bonobo. Compared to Tokyo, the air up in the mountains of Gunma was cool and fresh even at the height of summer. My travel companion was fast asleep. Midnight, the world was adrift and at peace. I dug deep into my memory and wrote.

Issey Miyake Madame T

Gunma Adventure - Part One

Words don’t come easily to me, though incoherent thoughts are relentless. We had spent the day on a bullet train and two buses, making our way from Tokyo to a remote onsen up the mountains of Gunma. I had never been here, but I held on to the faith that the ryokan and mountains would be worth the stress of the journey.

One aspect of myself that I constantly try to improve on is time management while traveling. And there’s no better way to do that in a country as pedantic as Japan. I thought I had given ourselves enough time to make our way from our lodgings in Omotesando Hills to Tokyo station where we would catch a bullet train, but we got carried away loading up on lunches and snacks. As a result, we had to race across subway stations, probably did a hundred meter sprint midway, while both of us were lugging 20kg and 30 kg of goods respectively. No guessing who packed the heavier one. I lost my grip on the luggage handle mid-sprint as we were transferring from the subway to the overground. It cracked upon hitting the pavement. Stairs had to be climbed, people to apologise to. Several station gates through Tokyo station and profuse sumimasens later, we caught the right shinkansen with two minutes to spare. As we took our seats on the duck-billed train - struggling to catch our breath - my companion blurted out, “HIIT has nothing on this.”

End of Gunma Adventure - Part One

Issey Miyake Madame T Margiela Tabi Boots

Kyoto Adventure - Part One

As someone who travels quite often to Japan, I had wondered why I hadn’t gone to Kyoto almost immediately. It was after all the ancient capital of the country, now its cultural capital, where the concept of wabi sabi was born. If you have been reading my essays you will know how much this philosophy permeates the way I think and consume; the beauty of imperfection, the ageing process of people and material goods, the signifiers of usage - these are all embodied in the clothes I wear, the wares I sell, the photographs I take.

I decided to give Kyoto a try when I found out that Japan’s low-cost carrier Peach Airlines has a Shanghai-Kansai route at a relatively affordable cost, though it involved taking a six am flight. I had no idea what to expect, other than a vague idea of the cultural significance of the city. My motto in life has evolved to “have zero expectations from new experiences in order to avoid disappointment”.

Issey Miyake Madame T

Kyoto itself is by and large an industrial town. Sitting in the train that whisked me away from Kansai airport on an hour-long (or was it two?) journey, the view outside wasn’t what I would call picturesque. Yet it’s still quintessentially Japan - angular suburban homes intermingled with well-pruned greenery, elderly people tending to a patch of gardens at a random car park, chimney stacks not too far off in the background, small practical cars weaving in and out of narrow streets. The view remained unchanged even when the train pulled into Kyoto station. A touch of familiarity mingled with the excitement of arriving in a new city; PA system announcing train departures and arrivals in a friendly voice, sararimans careering around dawdling tourists trying to navigate the complexities of a large Japanese train station. As I dragged my typically heavy suitcase from the station to my Airbnb lodging along the city’s systematic grid-like road system, I began to notice the exceptionally old age of Kyoto homes - ubiquitous wooden structures bore the mark of ancient history, snuggled between modern flats.

The closer I walked to the central district, the older the homes became. The city was a lot easier to navigate around than Tokyo as the roads were named numerically relative to the Kamo River that runs from the north to the south - the beating heart of Kyoto. I passed by a cafe that overlooked the embankment, which I knew would become one of my favourite working spots.

Issey Miyake Madame T

More old wooden homes built alongside narrow streets. I finally arrived at my Airbnb somewhere in a tiny block of flats. I did my best to carry my 20kg suitcase up a narrow flight of stairs. I keyed in the code for the door to my rented flat, opened the door, and saw the tatami and futon bedding arrangements. Minimal, clean and cosy. I knew I’d sleep well that night.

End of Kyoto Adventure - Part One

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An Ending, A Beginning

July 3, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

Rick Owens Sphinx Biker Jacket

There is a real contrast that I love between the layered voluminous styling, the high end labels and the dilapidated stagings where you shoot. There is a way you democratize these impossibly avant grade clothing in a way that is refreshing. Its clear that you are an “otaku” of these labels you write about. Are you trying to connect with people like you? To find other “nerds” of these obscure and difficult labels? or are you trying to do something different with your blog, retailing, writing?

I don’t necessarily write to connect, but it has become a wonderful result that I wasn’t expecting when I started. My writing is a declaration of my love (or disdain) for specific topics and labels, and through my reading, research, and collecting, I hope to spread the things I have learnt to my audience.

Talking about dilapidated, messy wabi-sabi backgrounds do you think this is something of having grown up in the tropical Asia?

Possibly. Who knows what my preference will be if I had grown up in Oslo.

Some early photos showed you in a sort of emo/goth style that currently has evolved into something more refined and minimalist but still quirky and wild. Were you subversive or interested in underground cultures growing up or currently? I’m curious having lived in Singapore/Malaysia in these sort of regimes how that might have influenced you? How is being in China changing your attitudes to that?

Before I found fashion my energy was focused on music and competitive sports. I played the drums and listened to mostly angsty music. My choice in clothing was pretty literal in showcasing my music preference. Growing up I had developed a rebellious attitude in which I disliked the mainstream (eg. choosing rowing over football). I’m less snobbish now, but I still prefer ideas that stimulate my thinking process, be it social issues or creativity. Being in China has been an eye-opening experience. Beneath the authoritarian regime and the quest to keep up with the joneses, China is the bubbling pot of creativity with its own distinct flavour; thousands of years of history, ready to be drawn out and reinterpreted for modern times.

An excerpt of my interview between Robert Patterson and me, from one fellow entrepreneur to another. For the full version, please click here.

Rick Owens Sphinx Biker Jacket
Wearing: Rick Owens sphinx biker jacket and samurai shorts; Ann Demeulemeester pirate boots, available on ROSEN here

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