Dying For Bleach

Bleach Bawazier2

Fashion designer Yasir Bawazier is the founder of upcoming fashion brand Bleach Project. He spoke to Christina Iskandar. Image: Katren Sudek.

What is your origin Yasir?
Born and raised in Surabaya. I went for school in Holland in 1997 and spent some time living in Mexico and India before I went back home to Jakarta in 2004.

What sparked your interest in fashion?
Everything. As long as I can remember I have always been interested in fashion. It was too obvious actually, I didn’t stumble upon it. I always wanted to be a designer and didn’t have any other plan besides doing that. It was the drive and the passion, as if I was born to be nothing but a designer. It’s like, say, when you’re into something … ‘angry bird’ for instance, you can’t do anything else. It consumes you. I’ve picked my own outfits since I was three years old. When my mom took me to a fabric shop, I felt like a kid in a candy shop and I still feel like that to this very day.

What images do you extract from your own reality when designing?
When I designed womenswear it was all a fantasy. Everything can be made into a dress as long as it covers the right parts, technicality comes later. Every picture, sound, colour can spark creative ideas. With menswear it’s more about practicality, what I want to wear, comfort, fewer constraints, movement, utility, … you work with the limitations of the basic block and make it your own and infuse that little edge to it.

Bleach Bawazier

Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?
A bit of both, to be honest. I studied for a bachelor degree in fashion management in 2004 and quickly started a streetwear label before streetwear was popular. It didn’t last long, people didn’t get it at the time and neither did I. I had freelance jobs as a stylist and designer and decided to re-invent the brand into a womenswear resort collection in 2006, opened a shop in 2007 in Bali and soon closed the whole operation. Then in 2008 I decided to be a womenswear designer at Shakuhachi for two and a half years before I left for Paris to pursue a master’s degree in fashion design in 2011. It took me basically six years of education, eight years of experience, two failed brands and a failed shop before I could balance that wild creative side of designing with a product sellable to the masses.

How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
Basically now I know what I am doing! I think I finally design what I really like, who I really am. I’ll probably tone down or tone up, who knows. But I know where I’ve been and I know where I am going, even though I might take the long way around because I like the learning and the evolution process.

How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Eclectic and mood-based, and dependent on the place.

What fascinates you at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
I’m fascinated by social media. Millions of inspirational pictures, quotes, videos, snapshots, news, constantly feeding your brain, non-stop. It forces me to be creative.

What advice would you give to young designers starting out?
Never give up. There will be three million things that happen in your life to tell you that you are doing the right thing and three million people to tell you that you are doing the wrong thing. There will be doubt, there will be people doing less than you and making more money. Don’t despair, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

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