One of Singapore’s more innovative and creative designers, Josiah Chua is known for his unique take on mixing popular culture motifs and genres into wearable streetwear. Best known in Asia for his iconic BTS x McDonald’s sneakers, the designer has been a mainstay of Singapore’s underground streetwear and fashion industry since graduating from first Lasalle College of the Arts, and also the prestigious Bunka College of Fashion in Tokyo.
“I’m often inspired by the style or stories of movie characters or even fictional characters from films or cartoons,” explains Mr Chua, when asked about where he gets his inspiration from. “I take charge in owning my style, and I would like people to own theirs too.”
Taking charge is something that Mr Chua is very good at, having been involved in a number of collaborative projects. His most recent foray is with Xiaomi for its recently released 11 Lite 5G NE series. The company reached out to him with a collaboration idea, wanting a unique fashion experience that fit the concept and technology of the new phones.
“Xiaomi contacted me to see if I would be interested in designing a creative capsule after they chanced upon my then latest creation that drew buzz,” Mr Chua explains. It was a good opportunity to venture into a collaboration for their latest fashionable smartphone series which comes in poppy colours. After a couple of meeting sessions, this interesting collaboration was born.
Never one to dismiss a challenge, Mr Chua was excited but slightly nervous about the project: “Working with one of the world’s leading technology brands – Xiaomi – is definitely something out of my comfort zone.”
“I admire Xiaomi’s mission, their emphasis on innovation and quality products with honest prices [which] has enabled the brand to reach out to so many people. Additionally, the opportunity to push boundaries beyond technology, to combine fashion and tech sounds pretty exciting to me,” says Mr Chua.
“As smartphones have become an essential part of our lifestyles, there is the space to create an opportunity to showcase it as more than just a tech item but as a fashion statement that allows you to take charge and own your personal style.”
The capsule collection includes sporty cuts, outerwear and a pair of flower embellished work boots in shiny, pastel shades of blue and pink. The overall aesthetic appears to pull inspiration from a mix of Anime and Kpop boy bands with a strong non-gendered vibe.
“My inspiration started from the iridescent shades of the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE in Peachy Pink and Bubblegum Blue, especially the way the light catches on the material used on the phone,” says Mr Chua.
“As materials speak to me, I explored the endless possibilities of [different types of] fabrics to reflect the personality of the material in my creations. Through further development and manipulation of the fabric, I experiment with various methods to create silhouettes that mimic the imagery I envision.
“Light was a main inspiration to me – I wanted to ‘sculpt with light’ when I first saw the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE. The goal was to use materials and fabrics that resembled light to recreate the iridescent look of the phone, making it seem like I was ‘playing with light’ as I reimagined light as a fashion piece. I wanted the final piece to evoke a fantasy, an ethereal dream where it feels like being transported to another world of make-believe; like an alternate reality for everyone to step into; like a metaverse.”
Working with Xiaomi ended up being a collaboration that Mr Chua says was both enjoyable but also humbling.
“It’s extremely humbling and at the same time rewarding to be working with international brands and on projects such as this one with Xiaomi. In this rapid digital age, we are connecting faster, more seamlessly and definitely on a more global level. I am excited to also see how this will progress in the future,” he says.
Thinking about the future of fashion is something that Mr Chua dedicates considerable time and effort to, particularly when it comes to the ongoing issues of sustainability and closed loop production that many leaders in the fashion industry are currently trying to deal with.
“Sustainability is a huge word and I do not think it’s just the fashion industry’s responsibility to own. That said, by being more conscious about our consumption and aware of our personal needs and wants with clothing, we can make the world a better place by buying key items. Personally, I love thrifting and I shop a lot of vintage luxury items, they embody a character and they’re as good as new after a clean,” says Mr Chua.
When it comes to the development of his own brand, Mr Chua says that he is always working on something creative and that 2022 will see the launch of projects that are tied into his beliefs and practises in conjunction with the issues of sustainability.
“In 2022, there’ll be some creative projects that circle around the themes of upcycling fashion, street art and technology. Do remember to keep a lookout!”
However fashion is not the only area that Mr Chua wants to work in: “Though I am fashion design trained, I’ve always seen myself more of an artist or creator, it reflects on the spirit of creating an expression or the primary intention to create emotion.”
“I hope to create more reactive works that could result in them being exhibited or presented in a strange yet dynamic way.”
You can purchase the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE (8GB + 256GB) for SG$549 online on Lazada and Shopee or at any official Xiaomi store or authorised retailer in Singapore. Go to www.mi.com/global/xiaomi-11-lite-5g-ne for more information.
All images: Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE x Josiah Chua
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