Seeker x Retriever is a sustainable, gender-neutral label based in Thailand and Australia. Creative director Nan Tohch founded the label after meeting local artisans on her travels in Lampang Province in her birth country of Thailand.
Considering the environmental implications of the fashion industry, Seeker x Retriever is conscious of all aspects of the supply chain from the loom to the dye bath to the final design. We spoke to Nan to find out more about why she founded the label, the challenges of eco-production and what inspires her.
Can you tell us about your background and why you started Seeker x Retriever?
Nan: I studied film in university and fashion has always been on my mind. I finally got to work in fashion when I returned to Thailand and worked for a local magazine as Men's Fashion Editor. This project started from my fascination with timeless pieces that can stay in your wardrobe for a long time. When my mom passed away, I had a chance to visit her heritage up in the North of Thailand and I discovered so many beautiful textiles there. In a sense, the label is both a homage to her and a step away from the so-called fashion world I had been in a long time.
You use natural dyes and hand weaving in your range. Why did you take this approach? How does it influence the final design?
I was fascinated with the fact that every single plant can produce dye, and that every single piece of dye fabric is different. That is something quite special to me. When we design, we consult with our artisans first to see what's in season and we never force them to produce colours that are unavailable or to overproduce the textiles. The struggle is, you can't exactly predict the colours. Also, you can't get real dark black from natural dye--black is my go-to colour but I guess I just have to adjust!
What inspires you?
Film, first and foremost. I love Stan Brakhage's early works and the film called Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé.
I guess I could say that the natural world has had a lot of influence on my designs as well, like those two films mentioned, which both have elements of organic and natural subject matter.
My mom and Thailand's Northern culture has also inspired me a lot; there are certain elements of the way people dress up North that I would like to play with more in the future, whether it's buttons or hem details.
I'm also inspired by traveling, art and architecture, like Luis Barragán and Man Ray.
Do you have any habits or rituals you follow that help you stay focused while running your own label?
Exercise is very important to me. I've practiced Pilates for over five years now and it really helps me stay focused. Also learning to be OK with imperfections, because that's the nature of my materials. That's not to say that I'm not meticulous about the fit of the garments, but just learning to love the natural pigments as a living thing that can fade and grow old with you, which is all part of the charm!
What are you looking forward to?