With his just-launched eponymous streetwear label, fashion designer Amos Ananda Yeo breathes new life into the local fashion scene. By Daniel Goh
With the considerable determination and certainty of a 25-year old tackling his grand passion, Amos Ananda Yeo, social media darling and fashion figure, has launched a line of some 20 looks under the eponymous label, Amos Ananda. Inspired by memories of living on the streets in his childhood, his designs seem to well from a deeply-felt atavistic reserve: You can see it in the way that he seems to be designing for himself, each piece a reflection of his own need and wants, each look worn by him in frame after frame looking as natural on him as his own skin. In fact, this line of “elevated” streetwear is nothing less than a cloth and leather expression of his personal philosophy. “The brand conveys a style I call ‘SUPERNORMAL’. It is my personal philosophy of choosing to excel beyond the expectations of the ordinary. It is how I live my life,” said the young designer. “If you choose to live life normally, you will never get to see how amazing you can be or what you can achieve. This is the thinking that I have applied to my dressing and style. I guess it’s about being unconventional in a very conventional world.”
This rebellious stance, except for his clothes, is hardly evident in his manner or demeanor. Yeo is unerringly nice in person, polite, mildly spoken and always groomed. Yet, a sense of having had a less-than-privileged start in life marks his confidence with an edge of aggression, and perhaps contributes to the edginess of his designs. Yeo is the eldest of two sons of a single-parent family; his mother brought them up on the takings of a small food business.
When was the first time that fashion attracted your attention, and how did that lead you to a career in fashion?
I grew up watching football, and have always been interested in the clothes and hairstyles of football stars like Freddie Ljungberg and David Beckham. Growing up in the Choa Chu Kang, I played the game in the neighbourhood streets, and I lived the rebellious street culture. I didn’t choose to be rebellious. It’s innate and it’s a strong influence in my designs. Dressing up came naturally to me, from the age of 9 or 10. I think the need to create cool clothes stems from my childhood. I have always wanted a platform to share my stylistic expression and I chose fashion. Another reason I create is my quest for individuality, authenticity and exclusivity.
At what point did you decide that you will make fashion a career? Why did you decide to study fashion business rather than design?
Since I was little, I have always known what I wanted to do, and that is to have my own label. I’ve never doubted that I would pursue this path. Having just graduated from Raffles College of Higher Education Singapore with a Bachelor in Fashion Marketing and Management this July, I could pursue my fashion business full time, with the blessings of my mom. I studied fashion marketing instead of fashion design because I wanted to learn how to start a business. I designed, conceptualized and created my collection despite having no design training.
What inspires you? And why?
I draw inspiration from sports, tradition and military influences. My muse is anyone that inspires me on any given day. I do not restrict myself to a single muse or role model. Inspiration is that fleeting moment, that adrenaline rush, I have no restrictions.
Why is fashion important?
Fashion is a business but I think that style is more important as it gives you an identity. It is the most important requirement for success in the fashion business. It is something which either you have or you don't.
How different is your line from that of other young designers? Do you think you bring something else to the market that doesn’t already exist?
AMOS ANANDA is an elevated unisex streetwise label that is rooted in modern street sensibilities with a sophisticated aesthetic. All my products are produced in limited quantities. Each item is a limited edition, and comes labelled with the quantity number (eg 7/20) sewn onto the apparel. This ensures the best quality with quality control checks done (by me) throughout the production process. It has a good price point to allow the brand to fulfil its potential, to spread my vision, and to reach a broader market. My second line 7 BY AMOS ANANDA reaches out to those on a tight budget.
What is your brand all about? What is your brand philosophy?
AMOS is my Christian name and ANANDA came from this Buddhist exhibition that I was at with my father and the name struck me and it means the same thing as Amos. Both names mean “messenger” and my label brings a new message about streetwear going luxury. My message is also about doing your best. I want nothing average. It is either good or bad, and I choose the former. I’m completely independently funded, so I have total freedom and control, I have no restrictions. And this is what my label represents.
What are the qualities/ qualifications/ skills that will enable you to succeed in this business?
Each of my products is created with love and passion. When you have the love, you have the drive. When you have the drive, the chances to succeed is greater. In a nutshell, it all comes from the heart.
Who is your customer?
AMOS ANANDA is for people who want individuality. A confident personality who understands the quality of clothing. They want to be themselves. A unique individual who dares to be different. They are sporty, fast-paced and perfectly comfortable in their own imperfections.
What are some of the things that you want to highlight about your collection?
COLLECTION 01 is about functional daily wear with utilitarian detailing. The emphasis is on the shoulders which are padded to heighten masculine appeal. You can expect unconventional approaches such as the layered pants designed as a one-piece, yet looking like you’re wearing shorts over leggings. There is one T-shirt where the hem design adds layering to the outfit. Traditional influences, such as the mandarin collar is offered with contemporary styling. Expect a tailored silhouette infused with streetwear vibe.
How do you work with your pattern makers since you have no tailoring skills?
When you have the heart and the drive, you will see results. I make sure my demands and instructions are communicated across to the shifu who makes up my patterns in Shenzhen.
How did you get started working in fashion?
I did my internship at a fashion event company in 2013 and subsequently worked for them during fashion week. I met many people who helped me get started. Fashion really isn’t glamourous. Behind the glamour is tonnes of work, sweat and tears. When I go to China for my production, I face many challenges. The list is so long that I can’t name it all. But I am grateful to have met many nice people who accepted me, believed my vision, and assisted me to produce my line!
Describe a typical day in your life.
My day begins with replying emails and messages. I always wake up to tonnes of it! I work on anything related to my label in the day and design at night. When in Singapore, I make it a point to stay home to accompany my mum as I often travel for work. I also make it a point to meet my bunch of close friends of over 10 years once a week. Surrounding myself with these level-headed individuals is important because they have always been there for me. Launching the label has been a roller-coaster ride that seems never ending, and time with my friends, at my place, theirs or out for dinners and movies is precious.
Who are the most important people in your life?
My Mum. I love her the most. Her love for me is greater than anyone who can ever have for me.
AMOS ANANDA is available at local select shop Workshop Element, Level 3, Orchard 313.