19 May 2014

Khim Hang on HAN Studios and the emotion of clothing

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

The amygdalae are imbedded deep in the human brain, within the intricate temporal lobes. Their cognitive function is to process decisions, memories and emotions.

It’s been shown the amygdalae are activated when dressing, as if a deeply rooted emotional response is evoked through attaining, creating and wearing clothing.

Khim Hang, the brains behind HAN Studios, wants his designs to cause people to have that uniquely empowering emotion that clothing elicits.

“Fashion and clothes in general have a power to influence people.

“When you put something on and you feel like a boss and you feel like you can go out and destroy the world, that’s what clothes have the power to do.

“That’s what I wanted to create.”

Khim’s ideal is a rejection of the flippant culture of contemporary disposable fashion. He wants people to love, hold onto and cherish garments. It’s about replicating Khim’s own experiences with the emotional connotations around clothing.

“I’ve got a shirt that my dad gave to me that when I was wearing it I was in my first fight, I fell in love wearing that shirt.

“So many cool things that I’ve done.

“The shirt’s now like a rag, but I love it and I will continue to keep it forever and I hope that one day I can do the same with my children as well.”

HAN Studios knows the taste of success – debuting in its infancy at MBFWA, being featured in some of Australia’s most esteemed magazines and a current International Woolmark prize nominee.

But Khim says he’s equally known the sting of destitution. His family escaped the Khmer Rouge dictatorship in Cambodia.

“My parents lived through that, they escaped and my dad tells me stories about running in the middle of the night with no direction.

“He told me this story about how he was running through the forest and he had to climb through a barbed wire fence and he cut his leg so he’s got a big gash on his leg, a big scar.

“And he fell into a fit filled with rotting bodies and so it’s crazy.

“So I guess for me, I didn’t have that financial or emotional support and I sort of made what I have from nothing, the same way my parents came from nothing too.”

So what’s the HAN aesthetic? You could say HAN is a fusion of casual, evening and sportswear with an ever-pervading sense of minimalism.

“People say to me being minimal is somewhat simplistic and boring, but taking something a thousand bells and whistles to it is a lot easier than taking something, refining it to its core essence and that’s what we do.

“So it’s a shirt, why do we have this pocket here or why is this certain element here, it’s because it serves a particular form and a function and that’s the key to great clothes”

Khim takes his tailoring cues from Ozwald Boateng. It’s about the small things, the delicacy of structure.

“The interesting thing is a group of tailors is called a disguising. So fucking cool.

“They’re called a disguising because tailoring is supposed to create an illusion of a certain fit where in Savile Row the best tailors all have different fits.”

HAN Studios really is still a baby, only about to release their first Resort range. But Khim wants the HAN legacy to live on far past his lifetime. So don’t expect it to go anywhere any time soon.

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