Mok Theorem - it's not the first time you've heard this label on my blog. Remember I was invited to their debut show a month ago taking backstage shots and runway shots from the front row? ( click here to refresh your memory). I did an interview with them shortly after the show but I've been so busy and sick last month I've had no time to put it up. But here it is :)
Gloria and Grace Mok, the sister designer duo are the founders of the their label Mok Theorem. They are self taught and began at Bondi Markets, where many designers have blossomed from. This season they were inspired Harry Potter's chess board game. by Black vs. White adding a touch of femininity.
Read the interview to get a better knowledge of what they are all about! They are launching another line, White Euphoria next week at FACE Fashion.
Incase you were wondering why I have women's content on this blog - I really like the black and white pieces they have and as an aspiring designer, I love to see how designers start out.
READ INTERVIEW HERE:
How old are you guys?
I'm (Gloria) 23 and Grace is 27.
When and how did you decide on design as your career?
Back in the school days when I was 15, I was studying this course called 3 Unit Maths (which I believe is now known as Maths Extension 1) and I was failing miserably. I remember scoring 36% on one of my exams which completely contradicted the myth that all Asians were good at Maths. One day in class we were studying Pythagoras Theorem and my friend jokingly said how funny it would be if there was a maths theorem named after me in the future, especially given how I just went in my last exam. And it got me thinking that if there was to be a theorem named after me, what would I be known for? What knowledge do I possess which I can I share with others? The answer was clear straight away – fashion. Since being a young girl, fashion was always my passion. I loved it dearly and studied it religiously (which was probably the reason why I was failing maths in the first place). From that moment onwards, Mok Theorem was born.
Were you always a fashionable person?
I have always loved dressing up. Since preschool, I have always been the one who decided what outfit I would be wearing for the day and paid meticulous attention to looking my best all the time. As for being fashionable, I’m sure I have had some hits and misses over the years but I believe that’s the beauty of fashion – each to their own.
What do you make and when did you guys decide on this?
Mok Theorem produces garments which are timeless yet whimsical. The pieces are edgy but also possess a hint of femininity and sophistication. We like taking basics and adding quirky detailings that make a classic more interesting and modern. We try to steer clear of trends because we want all Mok Theorem pieces to last for seasons.
This has always been our personal style aesthetic. Grace and I have always worn clothes which are a bit quirky and most importantly, not found on the mass market. We like pieces which have a no-fuss styling quality to it, meaning that we like clothes which require little styling effort on our part and minimal accessories because the little details on the garments itself are statement-making enough. Mok Theorem resonates closely to our own personal style.
Mok Theorem began at Bondi Markets over 3 years ago. Bondi Markets has always been renowned as being the stepping stone for numerous well-established Australian fashion labels such as Sass & Bide, Samantha Wills, Kitten and Skipping Girl. Being avid fans and loyal shoppers of Bondi Markets ourselves, Grace and I knew that this was the best way to initiate our label as it was well-known that Bondi Markets was a great platform for new and emerging designers.
Over the past few years at Bondi, we have not only attracted a wide base of loyal customers and fans, we have received a lot of feedback in regards to our collections. This direct contact with our customers has allowed us to listen and learn from our customers as to what they want and what they like. With their continual support and feedback, we have grown to where we are today.
Tips for aspiring designers, like me?
It is really important to have a great partner and team in order to succeed because it is never a solo act and it is not enough to simply have a great design or product. Having Grace, my sister, as my business partner has been an absolute blessing. She is amazingly talented, intelligent and most importantly, organised (unlike me!) with vast business experience. Grace has allowed Mok Theorem to get to where it is today. Without her, I don’t think Mok Theorem would have ever taken off.
Did you have any education in fashion? if so, where? if not, how did you learn the technical aspects?
Grace and I both studied business degrees rather than fashion design. We are both self-taught in sewing but our craftsmanship is nothing compared to our seamstress. We generally make mock-ups of our designs first and then our seamstress teaches us the correct way of putting the garments together.
How did your friends/family react to you turning to fashion design?
My parents were very supportive early on. But like most Asian families, my parents did initially want me to work in a ‘safe’ occupation such as accounting or even better, medicine if possible. But they knew that when I had my heart set on something, I would do everything that I could to achieve it. I think my determination and a resilient, never-give-up attitude were enough to convince them that this was the right path for me to take. Same with all my best friends. They hear how passionate I am when I talk about my dreams so they have also been supportive from the start.
How do you approach your designs each season and what inspires you? ( this season)
With this new collection, I was inspired by chess, hence the title of the collection, Check Mate. I was thinking of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy chess game in Harry Potter and I wanted to create my own fantasy chess set for this new season. Ironically enough, I have only ever played one game of chess in my life.
What are your aesthetics/inspirations?
I am inspired by everyone and everything. With this current collection, it was Harry Potter! Really, anything that tickles my fancy!
Whats the underlying message of this collection/ themes?
The theme of the collection revolves around the notion of Black vs. White, this fantasy battle taking place between two clans of well-dressed women. The idea was to convey a sense of contrast and balance between the two sides. Subsequently, the clothes from this collection are a little bit on the tough side, a little bit warrior-esque, however, there is a strong touch of femininity throughout the collection to offset against the toughness of it all.
Contrast is the key theme so structured pieces in leather and PVC with heavy zipper hardware detailing is counterbalanced against fluid, soft pieces in modal and silk. This inspiration is further emphasised through the choice of colour. As chess is traditionally black and white, these two colours play an integral part in our collection. However, there are highlights of musk, sapphire, lilac and biscuit brown to complement and add a Mok Theorem twist.
Where do you source fabrics and what kind of fabrics do you use?
We pride ourselves on using good quality fabrics. With the new collection, I worked with soft 100% lambskin leather, 100% silk and 100% modal. I also used wool, PVC and plenty of chunky hardware zippers. The collection was inspired by chess and the idea of contrast and balance. I used a variety of materials to emphasise on this notion of juxtaposition. With most pieces, a mixture of different fabrics was used all at once.
All our fabrics are sourced from Asia.
The fashion industry is so competitive, how do you keep you label sustainable?
Grace and I have completed business degrees so we have both been formally trained to research the market to understand customer needs and wants, our competition, new and emerging trends and any shifts in the industry, both nationally and internationally. We realise the importance of having current and up-to-date information so as to make sound marketing decisions in regards to pricing, promoting and distributing our products. Our business backgrounds allow us to stay afloat in the fashion industry.
Are you working internationally with stocking,etc?
We currently have an UK stockist, Pret-A-Portabello, selling our label. They have told us that our pieces are selling really well in the UK. In fact, ELLE UK just did a feature on our London stockist and did a mention on Mok Theorem. Hopefully Mok Theorem will be stocked everywhere around the world one day!
How is your label unique from others in australia and abroad ?
Mok Theorem does not follow trends and I think this is one of the key reasons why our customers and buyers love our designs so much. It is important to us to not produce garments that can be purchased easily on the mass market. Our customers like to stand out from the crowd. Mok Theorem delivers simple but statement-making pieces that allow girls to achieve this.
Who is your target market? what/why do you think your products appeals to them?
All fashionistas out there! Our customers range from 18 to 35 years old who appreciate meticulous craftsmanship, high-quality fabrics and unique designs which allow them to differentiate from the crowd and make an entrance.
Favourite designer/s and why?
We loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee Marc Jacobs! He is an inspiration on so many levels. When people think of leading international designers they instantly think of the glamorous and beautiful lifestyle they live in. What most people don’t know about is what it takes to get there.
Marc Jacobs was the first to develop the concept of bringing high fashion to the younger generations. Robert Duffy, a close friend and business partner, worked with Jacobs at fashion powerhouse Perry Ellis. Together, they put grunge on the runway. The media went crazy over the flannel shirts, thermals, Doc Martens and (who could forget!) crocheted skullcaps; an approach that was never seen before in the high-end fashion scene, however, the executives weren’t too impressed. They were not convinced that women would pay so much for expensive clothes that looked like streetwear. Jacobs and Duffy were not deterred by the negative response towards their first show at Perry Ellis which ultimately led to their dismissal. It proved to be a landmark collection and the inauguration of Jacob’s signature aesthetic in the high-end fashion world.
Marc Jacob’s is truly a trend innovator. We admire him for his bold actions, risky decisions, determination and belief in the success of his creations. But more than anything else, we respect the strong bond between Jacobs and Duffy and their commitment to working together as a team - it was both or nothing for this duo.
Our aim is for Mok Theorem to adopt their integrity, passion and loyalty.
I believe good models help a lot in selling the clothes. what kind of models' outlook do you choose for your label?
I like girls with a non-traditional beauty as this relates closely with the Mok Theorem philosophy – we do not like conforming to the norm. We see beauty in the different.
What will the public expect to see next, coming from your label?
Everyone will just have to wait and see! We like to keep surprising and amazing people by upping the ante the next time round.
What's your favourite piece from your label?
There are too many to mention! From the leather-breasted bodice boobtube dress and maxis to the flowing cape dress with zipper hardware detailing to the heavily layered black vest, I have so many favourites! All the pieces play an important role in my current wardrobe.
What the most popular piece customers like?
Our buyers seem to really like My Naked Heart dress which is the nude and floral silk-pleated boobtube mini dress with the leather strip detailing in the middle. Also Chasing Worlds which is the loose fitting white vest made out of a mixture of leather, modal, wool and PVC.
For people who don't know your label, how would you describe it in a sentence?
Timeless silhouettes and whimsical twists!
Thanks Gloria and Grace!