Last year, Singaporean fashion designer, social media influencer and self-proclaimed astrology buff, Guan Min set off for the shores of Bali in preparation for the launch of her latest sartorial venture, Gàmine Studios. With 10 years of fashion industry experience under her belt, her vision for Gàmine was crystal clear—a thoughtfully considered, slow fashion label structured around the four natural elements: air, fire, water and earth.
Inspired by her personal style, the label’s first collection, Air, is a monochromatic resortwear line well suited for our balmy tropical climate. Think: billowing silhouettes, flowing fabrics and free-spirited designs crafted for the modern bohème.
Speaking to Vogue Singapore, Guan reflects on her growth as a designer after a decade in the industry, shares her personal styling tips and also touches on what’s next for Gámine Studios.
What is your creative vision and mission for Gàmine?
Gàmine is an extension of my personal style. I’ve always made clothes that I personally want to wear. It’s not about appealing to current fashion trends. Gàmine is inspired by classical elements, which is how I envision the makeup of a wardrobe—each element correlates with a different mood. I want the collection to be a wardrobe for the woman who possesses an edgy yet bohemian style.
Gàmine is an extension of my personal style. I’ve always made clothes that I personally want to wear. It’s not about appealing to current fashion trends.
Could you describe where the aesthetic of your brand and personal style overlap?
Gàmine is minimalistic. But with your own personality and styling, it can be anything. For me, my interpretation of it is edgy because I pair the clothes with boots, chunky silver accessories, and heavy makeup. It can also go to another extreme where the clothes can come off as bohemian instead, so it really depends on how the wearer chooses to interpret it.
Before Gàmine, you also helmed two other clothings brands, Lucyd Acyd and Feist Heist. How have you grown as a designer since launching those labels, and how does this new venture differ from them?
Feist Heist actually possessed the same kind of aesthetic. I was creating a lot of good basics, and it was very minimal as well. In that sense, the brands are very similar, but Feist Heist was considered fast fashion . We were churning out new designs every month, the price points were a lot lower and the pieces were mass produced in China. I was 20-something years old at the time and I didn’t know better.
After working at Surrender, and being immersed in the luxury streetwear industry, I became really sick of the whole fast paced ethos. Every week we would release a new hoodie or sneaker, and I was just like how many new things do we need? So I took all of that and put it into Gàmine with the intention of doing better. Gàmine allows me to work more creatively and produce in a more thoughtful and considerate manner.
What was it like starting Gàmine in Bali?
I think the best thing about working out of Bali is I can be more involved in terms of production. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at all the fabrics that are available here and curating all the finishing touches like zippers and buttons.
It has been great to be able to go to the production houses seeing how everything is done. I feel more assured in the choices that I end up making. And the other really nice thing here is that I have a lot of friends here who are creative designers as well. So it’s been nice just sitting with them and sharing advice on how things here work.
Who is the archetypal ‘Gàmine’ woman?
Audrey Hepburn happens to be the quintessential gamine in my opinion. She’s nicely dressed, very polished, but she’s got this spunky attitude and she is also a bit of a flirt. That’s how I interpret a gamine in my world, a woman nicely made up, with her leg up, smoking a cigarette or having a drink. Someone who is put together, but knows how to have fun and not take herself too seriously. Someone who can do it all.
Please tell us more about your latest collection Air. What was the inspiration for this resort line?
When designing the resortwear line I was picturing what would look really good in vacation photos. If you’re at a really nice resort, on the beach, what would be the perfect outfit in that photo, and how can I portray this vibe in my designs? Because the collection is based on the air elemental sign, I wanted a lot of it to be voluminous and airy. I didn’t want the clothes to be heavy or uncomfortable.
I started with key pieces that I wanted to work on and then fleshed out the collection with pieces to match it with in order to create a whole vacation wardrobe. So we have the maxi dresses which are more of a statement piece. In the daytime, maybe you need something shorter. That’s how the whole collection came into play.
The archetypal Gàmine woman is someone who is put together, but knows how to have fun and not take herself too seriously. Someone who can do it all.
Why did you decide to go with a monochromatic colour palette for this collection?
Personally, I am not a fan of colours. I find that colours take away from the essence of a design. If my dress were bright yellow, I feel like yellow is all you would fixate on. Whereas with black and white, you can appreciate the details more. I also think it adds a sense of timelessness to the pieces.
I definitely want to keep working on the sustainability aspect of my brand. There’s obviously still a lot that I have to learn and incorporate into my brand because right now it’s still very rudimentary. We focus on eliminating plastics and making sure production is ethical, but there’s definitely a lot more that I can do. I would like Gàmine to be carbon neutral and to explore more of the local artisans here in Bali.
Our next collection will be Fire, it will be a party wear collection featuring things that you can wear to a nice dinner or an event at night. With this in mind, it’s going be sexy, small, slinky dresses. I’m going to explore using silk and look into using batik.