10 Questions With... Thakoon

The American-raised Thai designer hates platform stilettos — and loves depressing music


It’s been 11 years since your first collection. What have you learnt?

It’s really about having consistency in your message — understanding your customer and what they want from you. Otherwise, you can’t succeed in this business; people don’t know your brand.

Do you ever feel you need to reference your first collection, with the metallic taffeta skirts and ribbon-tie jackets? 

No. I don’t look back. I just go forward, usually.

Do you have a muse?

I think of a certain type of girl. She’s sporty, nonchalant, feminine. She doesn’t put too much product in her hair, doesn’t really wear makeup. She’s glamorous without being glamorous. She’s very undone in her approach to fashion. 

How do you reconcile your Thai roots in your work?

It’s one facet of my career — my work represents what I like and it might not jive with the traditional way women dress up in Thailand. But that’s in every culture. In America, it doesn’t jive with the glamorous women who wear makeup and want to wear sexy dresses. 

If there’s a Thakoon piece a woman should wear, what should it be?

A shirt dress, that’s what people wear all the time.

Did you expect the shirt dress to be so successful for you?

Yes and no. When I design, I think of what I would wear if I were a woman. I would wear a shirt dress because it’s so easy to do.

How would you describe your approach to design?

I like to take traditional things or classic things, and twist them a little bit. To me, it’s not that difficult — that’s the kind of mindset I think with. I actually just like working with constraints like that. Like, if you give me just one fabric to work with and one kind of button, it’s problem-solving, which is what I like.

So you approach your design almost like a craftsman, or even like an engineer?

I don’t sketch a look — I don’t see a woman in a top and a skirt. I think about ideas, like a jacket, what new things I could do to a jacket, and from there we put the looks together. I do it by construction, so in that sense I’m almost like an engineer.

You’ve said you design from the shoe up. Is there a shoe style you will never, ever work with?

I can’t stand platform heels. I can’t… like a platform stiletto — I really can’t stand them. I just don’t like really, really high heels — it’s not modern. I like wedges, platforms, flats, sneakers; sometimes I like kitten heels. I find them kind of interesting, I like mules. I really don’t love over-the-knee boots — I don’t really do a lot of them.

Tell us one secret about Thakoon.

I find depressing music makes me really happy. Old, sad songs make me really happy. That’s not a really good secret.

Photos: Thakoon & Imaxtree

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