We talk to the Thailand-based swimwear label founder and creative director Angelys Balek about how a jetset lifestyle inspired her glamorous designs, creative cuts, artful prints and eco-fabrics, all supported by manufacturing with a #HealthySeas initiative factory.
What inspired starting your brand and the latest collections?
At a very young age, I was always fascinated by the unity between art and fashion. Art has always been part of my brand ethos and at the forefront when it comes to designing every collection. The thrilling challenge of designing for “all women” – women that are from different cultural backgrounds, lifestyles and free-will inspires the creative work to create clothing that caters to differences while at the same time expresses the inner self of a woman’s DNA. In my most recent collection, I was inspired by the cakes I used to bake when I was a child. The collection brings me back to the purity of childhood through its one-of-a-kind pattern which is the brand DNA – and perpetually implemented by art.
What do you listen to when designing?
I listen to the soothing sound of classical music. It helps me create a sense of calmness and serenity that seeps into the designs. Our lives are filled with all kinds of noise – visual clutter, notifications, social media, news, all the things we need to read and stay up to date on. None of those distractions are necessary when I’m designing so I try to block it all out and find peace.
Swimwear can be tricky for many women; so how does your label bring about confidence in the wearer?
We have found great success by really understanding our customer. We want her to feel feminine and confident. One of the ethos of the brand is to design swimwear that allows women to feel comfortable in their own skin, no matter their size. Size inclusivity has always been at the heart of my company and inclusivity as a whole as well. When we design our collections, we have a vision of liberation and individualism that is communicated through the brand’s emblematic handcrafted prints.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
Some of my favorite artists are Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. I love their painting skill and color combination techniques. Their work always makes me feel young at heart and inspires me.
What’s keeping you sane during a year of no travel?
This past year has allowed me to refocus while working from home in Phuket and rediscovering what matters most. Namely, building a business that supports my community and does so sustainably. I am living a more minimal lifestyle and am more conscious of every purchase I make and take time to consider what the item will add to my life and if it’s a necessity or luxury. I shop only locally, ditching single-use plastics, and I also started a garden in my backyard where I grow my own fruits and vegetables.
Which travel destinations are you missing the most and why?
One of the most amazing places I miss the most and I want to see are the aurora borealis. I feel it would be a great place for inspiration especially given the current state of the world. Connecting to nature is so healing and always gets my creative juices flowing.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Whatever satisfies your mind, try it and have no regrets”.
Did you start off with a fashion background? If not, what’s was your pre-fashion career?
I have always been artistic from a very young age and I honed my unconventional experiences and skills at Bangkok University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. This was where I learned everything around me can be created into art as long as you have a vision. I pursued higher education from design school in London and later moved to NYC. These experiences really helped to translate my passion into a skillset.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?
I would love to be Lisa from the popular K-pop band “Blackpink”. She is an inspiration to many people in Thailand and shows that anyone can realize their dreams with hard work and commitment.
Tell us about why it was important to make your label sustainable?
It is not just about looking sexy. There are intelligent women in all shapes and sizes with brains and beauty, who want to buy products that are good for the environment and give back at the same time. It is always important for those who have a platform in today’s world to design something that can spread a sustainable message and can be incorporated into beautiful pieces.
How did the sequin dress capsule with Anna Della Russo come about and develop?
I have always been a fan of Anna Dello Russo and we bonded over our love of yoga. When Anna visited Thailand, we shared the same yoga instructor and began to talk about how ADR can develop the sequin dress using our famous ruffle pattern. The development was a mixture of who ADR is and what the AB brand stands for. It was a meeting of our artistic visions that created this sexy ruffle dress and we were so happy with the end result.
What kind of women are you dressing?
The Angelys Balek woman, the “AB Woman” as we like to say, is someone who is not afraid to express and vocalise their identity with confidence. Just like nature, the AB Woman is free-spirited and celebrates their uniqueness and liberation.
What would your perfect Sunday be like?
A perfect Sunday would be hanging out with friends, doing some relaxing activities and eating a good home cooked meal made with love.
If you could wear one outfit for life, what would it be?
It would be something unique, experimental yet fashion forward like a sophisticated knee length dress.
(All images: Angelys Balek)
This story first appeared in Prestige Hong Kong.