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Profiling | S2VS

Seated in the middle of The Coffee Connoisseur, you probably would not notice Sean William Salim, founder of Shanghai-based brand, S2VS. Or at least I was guilty of it. The man seemed nothing like what I would expect, especially for someone who single handedly started up his own brand from scratch in New York, and then moving it to Shanghai.

Sean was in fact, incredibly down to Earth and cool as a cucumber might I add. He takes the stereotypical smug, arrogant, complete-with-a-fake-accent designer image to the gutter. Throughout the conversation, it never once struck me that this humble man in front of me had a showcase in the Men’s Fashion Week. Speaking of which, the collection’s clean and minimalistic aesthetics may not have been the showiest presentation; but it definitely makes you want to own a piece of the collection. Just 15 looks from the runway, and I wanted more already.

ActuallyMAG sits down and chats with the meek Sean as he shares with us several stories, including his humble beginnings to his favourite music. Be warned: level of respect for The Man may increase tenfold after reading.

So how has the week been treating you so far? Has it been hectic because of the Men’s Fashion Week?

Sean: The week has been pretty relaxing, surprisingly. The organizers have taken care of a lot of things. I have done shows before that required a lot more involvement. We spent literally 20 minutes casting the models, who’s wearing what, etc… And the nice people from Onitsuka had kindly sponsored us with shoes.

You’re 27 this year right?

S: Mmhmm.

You graduated from Parsons in ’07, and just a few months later you launched S2VS… so how does all this feel to you so far? Because it sounds like it has been a pretty crazy 4 years to me…

S: It has been an intense 4 years. In fact, it has been intense ever since I started schooling at Parsons. I’ve always had internships when I was there, so after school I’d be busy working for different designers. I guess you could say I’m used to the workload. But when I started the line, it was actually more financial pressure than anything. Because now you have to make sure your margins are met, and on top of that, you have the collection to take care of.


S2VS' shop interior

Talking about moving from places to places; you’re born in Indonesia, raised in Singapore, been in the US for a good part of your life and now your work is based in Shanghai… do you think it has influenced your work in any way?

S: Absolutely. People from places you live in will always burn in the back of your head. What they wear, how they wear it, etc… My summer shorts and shirts look like a contemporary version of secondary school uniforms, while my fall/winter casual-but-formal feel are inspired by people walking around in the streets of New York in -5 degrees weather. And Shanghai is doing something to me too, though I’m not sure what yet.

You seem to look at things in a multi-dimensional manner… so what inspires your work?

S: Every day things inspire me. It can come from anywhere I am; from the streets to the clubs. You have to look at what everyone’s wearing, and sometimes they have a certain characteristic that makes them stand out; which makes me think, ‘Is it nice? Why? How can I design it better?’

What do you think we can expect from S2VS from the next season?

S: Well, we are trying to position ourselves in the China market now, so we’re looking to expand the company. I have high hopes for South East Asia as well. Singapore is looking strong right now in the fashion scene. I’d like to branch out into Japan and Hong Kong as well.

What is the intended message that you are trying to communicate from your show?

S: We’re trying to showcase the clothing as simple and timeless pieces. I don’t believe that my brand creates headlines or turn heads on the runway; we create pieces with just enough details and great quality that you have to see up close, touch, feel, wear and interact for you to fully appreciate it. It’s just what we stand for us a brand I guess?

Sean, at Men's Fashion Week coming out at the end of his show

So this is your first show in Asia?

S: It’s actually my first show in the past year and a half since I moved into Asia. I haven’t really shown anything even in Shanghai; not even photoshoots. It has just been hard for me to organize models and photographers in China because the quality just isn’t there yet… So this presents a really good opportunity to show what I’ve been doing.

So apart from your ability to design clothing, tell us something about yourself that isn’t commonly known.

S: Well I have a passion for interior and furniture design, and it’s something I’d like to get into the near future.

What’re you currently listening to in your iPod?

S: I’m listening to a lot of Cut/Copy. It is one of the best electro-pop albums I have heard. But at the same time I’m also listening to a lot of classical music… Oh and The Beach Boys.

Complete this sentence: I AM ______ AND I AM ______.

S: I am creative…? And I am… … (long silence)*

*We told Sean it was okay to end the interview because he looked really stressed trying to complete it. What a nice guy.

Text by Toke, Images by Izuan and Zhiwei

View the rest of the runway stills below.

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