Nan & Carl on creating socially-conscious clothing and timeless fashion pieces
Dress up or down in these beautifully hand crafted garments.
Inspired by her Mum, Nan Tohch creative director of Seeker x Retriever, has poured her years of fashion industry experience into a fashion design label that is socially-conscious in order to continue her Mum's legacy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and who is Seeker Retriever?
Nan: We’re a new Thai-Australian fashion label that was founded on a love of traditional crafts and timeless garments. We started the brand because we found that it’s hard to find clothing that is stylish as well as consciously crafted.
What led you into the world of fashion?
Nan: I’ve been working in fashion journalism in Thailand for a while and noticed a huge gap in the market for versatile clothing. Seeing so many fast-fashion brands and short-lived trends, I just wanted to take control and change the pace by having my own brand.
Carl: I’m an Aussie who’s been working in Southeast Asia, mostly Bangkok, for the past five years. I’m a journalist by trade but I’ve always had an interest in minimalist menswear. Nan and I all share a passion for vintage finds, minimalism and traditional crafts. We actually started out as a market stall selling vintage clothing, but it very quickly developed into our own line.
Seeker x Retriever is all about providing an alternative to fast fashion, why has this been so important to you?
Nan: My mother is from Northern Thailand, and before she passed away I never actually paid attention to how many beautiful things are made up there (in Thailand). That combined with learning how much waste the fashion industry produces each year inspired me to want to take more responsibility with our designs, as well as support my Mother’s local community and in a sense, continue her legacy.
Carl: As clothes makers, we want to do our little bit to support sustainable communities. That’s why we work closely with small but long-standing weaving collectives: to ensure the people we work with are adequately rewarded for their talents and labour, and to ensure the best quality clothing possible.
Can you take us through the production process?
Nan: Before we design anything, we collaborate with our artisans in Lampang province [Northern Thailand] to see what they have in season. We don’t make impossible demands for difficult colours or order in large quantities that would go to waste. Basically, we work with what raw materials are available there at the time. Then after confirming the textiles, we design and exchange ideas together. The fabric then gets shipped to Bangkok to our tailor who makes the patterns, cuts and also customises orders when necessary.
How would you describe the Seeker x Retriever style, in other words, who would wear Seeker x Retriever?
Nan: Timeless, effortless and versatile, I would say that a person who wear Seeker x Retriever could be anyone of any age who is interested in creativity and beautiful objects; maybe someone who travels a lot and needs a wardrobe that transcends time and occasion.
Carl: Our designs are nearly all gender-neutral and seasonless. We want to create basics that people can really live in, for years not months or weeks. The clothes can be dressed up or down, whether it’s at the office or at the beach.
What is your connection to Newcastle?
Nan: I was born in Bangkok and grew up in the US, but I’ve been to Newcastle with Carl many times already and I’ve been really inspired by the active, conscious, and no-fuss lifestyle Newcastle has to offer. Also, the art and handmade scenes are really taking off here which I think is a perfect fit with what we’re doing.
Carl: I grew up in Old Bar, a couple of hours’ north, but went to uni in Newcastle. Most of my family is here or in Maitland and we try to visit as often as possible. Living abroad I’ve noticed people are becoming more and more aware of Newcastle; it’s not just some industrial city outside Sydney anymore. People know the beaches, but they’re also starting to appreciate the cafe culture and awesome DIY craft, music and art scenes. I like to think we’re helping spread the word in our own way. We want our pieces to reflect the active Newcastle lifestyle.
How can we get our hands on Seeker x Retriever?
Nan: We sell mostly online right now through our own site [www.seekerxretriever.com] but we've just partnered with a couple of Australian online stores, Shop Kinobi [www.shopkinobi.com], who just had a cool pop-up in Melbourne, and Well Made Clothes in Sydney [www.wellmadeclothes.com]. We’re currently looking at stocking at a few multi-label stores around the country. In the US, we just launched with a start-up called Garmentory [www.garmentory.com], a curated online market for emerging and independent makers.
Carl: We had a stall at Hunt & Gather Markets in April and look forward to returning to Newcastle and Sydney for some markets later in the year.
To shop the full Seeker x Retriever range and learn more click here