“A star blitzballer, spirited and free,
Cast into a tale, his destiny.
A lightning bolt, fierce and resolute,
Through chaos and strife, she finds the truth.”
Let’s start at the beginning. What sparked your interest in fashion design?
My journey into fashion design started after an awkward phase in my teenage years. Being of Asian descent but adopted by a Swiss family in a small village, I always stood out, with little exposure to the queer Asian community. So, I grew up trying hard to blend in and be as unnoticeable as possible.
This difference in my appearance and identity led me to explore fashion as a means of self-expression a lot later in life. When I discovered the transformative power of clothing, it significantly broadened my horizons.
My initial academic pursuits were in engineering, biology, and chemistry. However, the prospect of a career confined to laboratory work didn’t appeal to me. I’ve always been drawn to the arts, particularly films, musicals, and plays. My earliest memories involve creating costumes and indulging in imaginative play. This creative inclination naturally steered me towards fashion. My engineering background helped me develop a very technical approach to fashion.
What I find most exciting about fashion nowadays is its dynamic pace – from the conception of an idea to its development and eventual realization. This cycle of creativity is both exhilarating and profoundly satisfying.
Your brand signature is modularity. How do you balance the practical aspects of modularity with maintaining an aesthetically pleasing design?
The concept of modularity in fashion for me is about blending functionality with aesthetics. I’ve always been intrigued by the versatility of clothing and the ability to style a single garment in various ways. The joy of discovering ways of wearing a piece of garment always adds immense value to it.
With my brand, I aim to encapsulate this sense of playfulness and creativity. I want to provide not just clothing but a canvas for personal expression, allowing consumers to reinterpret my designs in their unique way. However, I am cautious about modularity not becoming a gimmick. My focus is on simple yet innovative construction concepts that are easy to understand and experiment with.
If you examine my collection, you’ll notice that many of the design elements are either recurring or fundamentally simple. My philosophy is that complexity isn’t always necessary for impactful design. Sometimes, the simplest ideas can have the most striking visual impact, and when I discover such a principle, I like to repeat it throughout my collection in various forms.
How is it essential for you to challenge traditional gender norms in creating unisex clothing?
Challenging traditional gender norms in clothing was obvious to me, as a natural extension of my personal experiences. Having a slender physique, I often found that women’s clothing suited me better in terms of fit than men’s. Therefore, creating a unisex brand was almost instinctive for me. As it reflects my lifestyle, it was never a debate.
I am aware that the retail market for gender-fluid fashion is still evolving and finding its audience can be challenging. However, I’m optimistic about the future. As younger generations who are more fluid in their gender expressions arrive at an age where they start gaining purchasing power, I believe there will be a shift in retail strategies to accommodate these changes in the years to come.
While I don’t expect every retail space to adapt immediately, there’s a gradual progression towards more inclusive space for non-binary standardized fashion in some stores, and that’s a promising start.
The fashion industry is a ruthless business but what aspects of the creative process bring you the most joy, and how do you stay motivated?
I find excitement in the entire process – from conceptualising an idea to the final production of a garment. I am very nerdy. My affinity for organization and planning plays a big part in this. I am a sucker for a good spreadsheet.
Witnessing an idea come to fruition through collaboration with various talented individuals is exhilarating as well. Although it’s my brand, it feels like a collective adventure, offering opportunities to work with and learn from people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Currently, at SWARM Mag, we are focusing on the theme THE ROOTS OF TASTE. Therefore, the last question is: how do you remain connected to your roots while embracing the future?
That for me involves a continual process of self-discovery and redefinition. Creating SIEGENTHALER has been a way for me to pause and reflect on my personal and creative evolution. In the fast-paced world of fashion, especially when working for other brands, it’s easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of shows and designs, losing sight of one’s personal growth.
I am not the same person I was during my last deep introspection, which probably dates back to my student days. Thus, redefining my roots – acknowledging those that have grown and those that have withered – is crucial for my personal development and for laying the foundation of my brand and community. It’s about understanding who I am now, and how that shapes my vision for the future.