Tricks up Hock’s sleeve
> This London-based designer is defying norms with unconventional silhouettes made magical by customisation techniques
Hence, his designs have long departed from “celebrating” (aka trapping) the female form, in exchange for “ease of wear” and “breathing space”. However, the customisation techniques he developed in his formative years as a designer remain central to his namesake.
Tell us about the theme behind your SS17 collection. How did you approach it differently from before? I always look at my previous collections and further develop ideas from there. I don’t usually have a theme per se, as I like my references to be remote. Having said that, there is always a general mood that I try to achieve with each collection. With SS17, there is definitely a nod to feminism and girl power. And I’ll let you figure out the rest.
The transition from accounting to fashion is rather unusual. Did you enjoy accounting? Do you think it has helped your current career in any way? I did. I was quite hyper in school and accounting was the only thing that could keep me calm and focused. I was an auditor for about a year before I moved to London. From there, a good few more years before I decided to do fashion. So, it wasn’t a 180° flip and I’m not sure how much it has helped me in fashion – it’s hard to be objective on something very subjective.
How receptive do you think Malaysians are towards unisex/gender-neutral clothing? I don’t completely see my clothes as unisex but more of masculine womenswear and effeminate menswear. I think people, especially the younger generation, are aware of gender-neutral clothing. The challenge is to convince them that this new silhouette is attractive and modern.
What makes a good unisex design, then? It has to be effortless, versatile and different.
Where do you go to seek inspiration? Have you ever gone on a deliberate attempt in search of it? People on the street – what they wear – inspire me, especially the elderly and those who are completely unaware of how amazing they look.
Inspiration comes naturally from your experiences and your state of mind, so for me it is not something that can be forced. You are either inspired or you are not. So if I’m really at a loss, wandering the streets like a lost soul usually helps.
With the incorporation of organic cotton as well as unwanted or leftover materials such as salvaged leather in your apparels, would you say environmental sustainability is an intended ethos of your brand? If so, are there plans to expand in this direction? Yes, it is an intended ethos of the brand but it’s not something I would shout about. Fashion in general is not a very environmentally sustainable industry, so unless James Hock becomes a fully organic or sustainable company,
How has London been treating James Hock? Any plans to run the brand back here in KL? I enjoy being in London. It’s a great city and it gives me a great sense of freedom. You can more or less do what you want to do and say what you want to say. And I like the independence that it gives me. So at the moment, there isn’t any plans to run the label from KL.
Aww, alright then. Besides www.jameshock.com, where can Malaysians buy your clothes? Selected pieces will soon be available in The Lab, Desa Sri Hartamas. Best haircut in town.
He sees potential in upcoming Malaysian designer Moto Guo. “He’s just doing his own thing and I appreciate that.”