Adi: the Bold Thai Label that Takes Inspiration from Youth Culture

“Growing up during a time when clothes were associated with a lot of stereotypes, I loathe comments like ‘You’re a boy, why are you dressing so revealingly? Are you gay?’ That’s why I wanted to make clothes that eliminate those stereotypes. I wanted to take down the walls so that I could show my true self.”

Dated back to the 1950s, the term ‘youth culture’ refers to cultural practices of adolescents and young adults with an emphasis on slang, fashion, and music. Even today, many of this year’s trends are still defined by different aspects of youth subcultures whether it’s punk, industrial techno, rave, goth, anarchism or rebellion. Some of those norm-defying elements have also been adopted by renowned luxury brands like Balenciaga, Vetements, Heron Preston, and Raf Simons.

Here in Thailand, rising designer Adi takes his cue from youth culture and brilliantly applies it to his own fashion label of the same name. Adi’s passion for youth culture, which began since he went to a fashion school in Milan, has turned into fascination. He became invested in making clothes that tell people who we are. Clothes which are not only ageless, but also genderles and influenced by both music and fashion.

How did the brand ADI come about?

When I was in Milan, I attended a class called ‘Fashion Identity.’ In that class, we had to do a project where we had to explore our passion and see which style matched our attitude the most. Actually, almost every project we had to do was about subculture and youth movements. After I graduated in 2016, I did my internship and had a few job interviews. I was so fired up by the experience and really wanted to create something under my own name, so I decided to go for it even though I wasn’t yet ready. I started practicing with secondhand clothes, fabrics found on sale at the market, and scraps collected from other projects. Sometimes I even had to sneak into the school to use the sewing machine there.

When did you become interested in fashion?

I’ve always been interested in arts and crafts for as long as I can remember. I was down for pretty much anything artistic. I sneakily sewed clothes for my sister’s dolls when I was a teenager, then turned to my own clothes, making whatever alterations they needed. At the time, I didn’t even know that you could go to school for fashion design.

The definition of ADI

Gender bender, clubwear, and queer.

What kind of clothes can people expect from ADI and how do they reflect Thai youth?

It’s street fashion fused with elements of youth culture from different eras. It’s about expressing oneself through things like poetry, art, clothes, hairstyles, and iconic items that invoke childhood nostalgia. My clothes can actually be worn in real life by people of all ages. I want to show that today’s clothes are very diverse and they’re not limited to just men’s wear or women’s wear. It’s more about the design and presentation. 

Inspiration for each collection

Before I begin working on a collection, I would circle back to the brand’s origin, reminiscing about childhood stories and experiences that have left an impression on me. Then I would pick one topic and do further research on it so that I could embellish it with some ADI identity.

Working on each collection

When I work on any given collection, I would already have an idea for the next one in mind. I like to start with some map-mapping, followed by research from several sources. Then it’s sketching, trying out different techniques, prototyping, fitting, and finalizing the piece.

ADI’s design principle

First of all, I have to like it or be happy with it. Then it’s making sure that everything can actually be worn and easy to be matched with other pieces.

In which direction do you wish to see Thai fashion go?

Have fun with your own creativity and unleash what’s inside of you. Don’t get too worried or think about limitations. I want to see clothes that are diverse and I hope that there would be more platforms for it in the future. I’d also like to see more support and push from relevant groups or organizations when it comes to fashion and creativity.

Advice for aspiring designers

Just do it! Don’t wait until you’re ready. Start with what you have and do as much as you can. Keep going and you’ll be surprised with your progress.