All of you have design backgrounds. What or which was the moment in your life where you knew that you wanted to be doing something in fashion?
Nat: I was always more inclined to art because my dad exposed me to it. I always thought I wouldn’t be able to make money through art. Then I had a friend in Secondary School that did amazing fashion illustrations – that’s when I realized fashion could be a form or art too and that I could make money out of it.
Daniela: Ever since I can remember, I was always reading or telling stories; it’s the Latina in me. I was always doing things with my hands; beading, weaving, dying and crafts. Fashion is one of the ways that I combine imagination and the tactile aspect of fabric to weave stories into my clothes; like a shaman.
Shaf: That’s the only occupation I knew since young. My dad owns a shop that sells traditional Malay clothes. So, I was exposed with different types of fabrics, I got to see my favourite colour at that point in time to be materialized on racks etc. So it’s a very natural thing for me to do something in fashion.
Before fashion, what did you wanted to be when growing up?
Daniela: I wanted to be a psychologist, then a film maker.
Nat: I’ve always loved animals. I wanted to be a vet… but then I realized I had to cut the animals open so I wanted to be like Steve Irwin (secretly still wants to).
How did the 3 of you decide to come together and start something?
Daniela: The three of us met while studying at LASALLE College of the Arts. Being fashion students, we would make or style our own clothing with second hand garments and create themes for nights when we attended parties in clubs and fashion events, based on what we saw on magazines and the runways. Clubbing was the perfect time to dress up crazily and have fun without being judged or having to be bothered by the weather. We also worked together before for one of Butter’s Fash Mob nights and we made crazy accessories together. After quitting my job, I was about to switch career lanes when I realized that Parco was looking for their third batch of designers. I called Nat and Shaf up and ran the idea by them (as they were about to end National Service and were going to start a blog selling DIY-ed garments). And the rest they say… is our story.
Thus, Mash-Up was born! So tell us the ideology behind Mash-Up. What’s the concept behind it?
The concept behind Mash-Up is DIY. Don’t take things as they are, don’t look at a runway look and copy it entirely. Do it yourself, make it your own by combining different elements from cultures, music or art that relate to you and create your own look or story.
Is there a story behing the name Mash-Up? How did it come about?
Mash-Up is a fairly new word used by DJs when they mash different songs and genres together. It’s current, young, fun and energetic. And it is all about bringing different elements in to make a superb sound that is exactly what we are all about.
Was there a designer, or a label, or anything that inspired the collection?
The narrative totems from the Native Americans of the North-West Coast inspired this collection. But also, Maluca Mala’s style was super inspiring for our photoshoot as she is a mish mash of 90s hip hop, Latin culture and New York downtown cool.
Can each of you think of one word that embodies this collection?
There is always a need to consider practicality and functionality. Your designs are pretty loud and can definitely be spotted a mile away. Do you think Singapore is ready for such in-your-face designs?
Daniela: Fo sho! It’s not like we are getting them to walk around in meat dresses. Our garments are still made in super comfy fabrics and cuts, just with a little more spice.
Nat: Definitely! We’ve had people coming up to us saying that they HAVE to own Mash-up and that they feel amazing in our clothes. There’s so much support and we feel very humbled and touched.
Shaf: Definitely. Before, everyone tried to blend in, but now they are hungry to stand out and be different.
How would you like to change the fashion industry in Singapore? I know the perception of designers labeled as a “local designer” is a little contrived. How is it like being a “local designer”?
Daniela: I think in some ways it’s an advantage. It’s always nice to know your merchandise hasn’t been mass manufactured by underpaid and overworked workers. And it’s great that we get a lot of immediacy in terms of the reaction we get on the products. It’s much easier to change something that is not working in our local market because of the fact that we’re here.
Nat: When I went to Japan with the rest of the Batch 3 Parco next Next designers, it was great to see the Japanese really supporting their own local designers. They are really proud of them and I hope one day they people in Singapore would be too.
Working as a trio definitely takes more consideration than working alone. How has that been like? Any memorable workroom stories?
Daniela: I’m really blessed to work with these 2 as they all bring something to the table. Shaf with his fab singing, and Nat with his dancing. Having a business is really draining and its great that I can do it with my best friends. I like to think that we prove the old adage that friends shouldn’t work together, wrong.
Nat: Firstly, three of us are Libras, so we get along well with each other. We always pretend we’re in a reality TV show. It’s quite funny, sometimes I think we should be acting instead.
Shaf: The power of three. I can never do this alone on in a pair. We work really well together and when it comes to a complicated situation, we will do votes, fair and square.
What is the worst fashion disaster either of you have ever encountered, be it in the workroom or a fashion faux pas.
Daniela: I wore skate jeans with sport shoes and bandanas. It’s definitely the sport shoes that did it; they should only be worn during exercise!
Nat: I was obsessed with bell-bottoms and baggy jeans in Secondary School (I regret it, to this day!)
Shaf: Satin and turtle necks…
How would you guys unwind after a long day? Any other passions being pursued?
Daniela: I try to swim and run when I can to clear my mind a little. Otherwise, Mash-Up is my hobby and job. I get to do so many things in the name of work – craft, reading and travelling for inspiration.
Nat: Sleep? Hahaha nah. EATING. We LOVE food. Well sometimes I watch DVDs, I’m quite the movie buff.
Shaf: Eat or sleep. I try to do yoga in the weekends in the park to zen out.
Where do you see Mash-Up in a year?
Daniela: Inching closer to foreign lands.
Nat: We’ll be shooting out campaign on the moon.
Shaf: A tribe so huge we need to book the national stadium to party… as for me, I’ll be dancing!
Leave us with one sentence to end this interview: Keep Mash-ing!
- Nathalie Thery