Interview – Tuchawee Sonthirati, founder Indigoskin
Name: Tuchawee Sonthirati (Gor)
Function: Founder & Designer
Residence: Bangkok, Thailand
In the past decade, raw denim gained a lot in popularity all over Asia. Due to the high humidity and temperatures the jeans fade incredibly, so it isn’t strange that people start wearing raw denim. Especially Japanese denim became much sought after. In the past decade, we noticed the same rise of raw denim in Thailand and nowadays there is a large and enthusiastic denim community.
One of those denim enthusiasts is Tuchawee Sonthirati aka Gor. About 9 years ago, Gor started to fall in love with Japanese denim. Especially with the unique fading potential of the fabric. Gor decided to use his creativity and give something back to the community and founded Indigoskin.
We had the chance to chat with Tuchawee Sonthirati about Indigoskin, Japanese denim, and their collections and collaborations.
Robin Denim: How does the organizational structure look like? How many people are currently working at Indigoskin?
We only have 8 employees, so we are still a very small company. Our strength at Indigoskin is that we have a clear vision that we all stand for. We work closely together and we share our ideas and strategies as much as possible. Although we all have our own function, I believe that working together is one of the greatest components of our company.
Robin Denim: As the founder of Indigoskin, what are your most important duties and what does a normal work day look like?
I am responsible for all the designs at Indigoskin. In fact, I am the only designer at the company, so it is important for me to get as much inspiration as possible. Therefore, I don’t have a normal workday, I don’t sit behind my desk during standard working hours. An idea for a new design can come to me at any time, so in fact I am working 24/7. Even when I sleep I still have a paper and pencil next to me in case I get a brilliant idea. It sounds crazy but the name, Indigoskin, was formed while I was sleeping. Also, most of the collections and designs are usually formed during my holidays.
Robin Denim: For your jeans now you’ve only worked with Japanese denim, can you explain why you use Japanese denim instead of denim from other countries?
When I started Indigoskin nine years ago, I tried to contact many denim suppliers and factories all over the world. While most of the factories ignored me, many Japanese denim mills were willing to work together with a new brand like ‘Indigoskin’. I already knew that Japanese denim was known to be the best quality in the world, so it was kind of a surprise that they returned my emails. Over the past nine years we worked closely together with some big Japanese suppliers, which has become a very important part of Indigoskin’s indentity. During these years, we’ve created a lot of exclusive denim fabrics for Indigoskin and for every collection we try to design something new. I really enjoy the relationship we have with the Japanese factories.
Robin Denim: About choosing the fabric for your different garments, how / where do you source it?
Nowadays, we only make exclusive Indigoskin denim in a factory in Okayama, Japan. I choose the cotton yarn myself and together with the staff in Japan we create new patterns every year. The kind of fabric depends on the concept of the collection, that’s why it will change every year. One of the most important things in developing a new fabric is to listen to the community.
Robin Denim: In what way is the community important in developing a new fabric?
The community is the most important because they are the ones who have to wear the jeans. I can create a beautiful new fabric, but if they don’t wear it, it’s all for nothing. Before I start working on a new collection I listen carefully to the customers to understand and implement their wishes. The wishes of our customers are the starting point of every collection at Indigoskin.
Robin Denim: How does Indigoskin interact and listen to the community, and do you have an example of the community directly influencing a product?
Since the beginning, Indigoskin has been very close to the community because we started from a community forum. When I started to create the first collection, I wanted to make a classic straight cut only. I discussed this idea on the community forum and many users wanted a slim fit too. I decided to listen, and the Indigoskin slim fit is one of the most popular jeans in every collection. So, listening to the community has become a fundamental principal of Indigoskin.
Robin Denim: Besides the community, what is another important part of making a quality pair of raw selvage jeans?
To put your heart in it. You have to love your products, before you give them to your customers.
Robin Denim: Where does the initial inspiration for your collection come from?
Inspiration is in everything around me. It can be a wall in a temple that I visit during my holidays, or the shadow of a shuttle loom in a denim factory in Japan. I am an observant and curious person, so I am always on the lookout for new things.
Robin Denim: What is the bestselling product of Indigoskin? Is this the same for the Thai market as for the foreign market?
The bestselling jeans in Thailand is different than overseas markets. In Thailand the Slim Tight fit from the Indigoskin basic series is the most popular. While for the overseas market the straight fit from the Vintage series is the best-selling jeans.
Robin Denim: Indigoskin does a couple of collaborations with Momotaro Jeans, it sounds like the perfect match. How did you establish a collaboration with a brand like Momotaro?
We’ve worked together with Momotaro Jeans for many years. We produce, and develop, a lot of our fabrics at Collect Mills. Collect is founded by the same company as Momotaro Jeans, so we work together very closely. During the years, the guys behind Momotaro have become very good friends. One day, I just asked them; ‘Why don’t we do something fun together, like combining the Okayama spirit and Thai art in a collaboration. Right after this conversation we started working on our first joint project.
Robin Denim: Is there something big coming up? Like a new collection / collaboration? If so, can you already tell us something about it?
There are a lot of new denim collections coming up this year. We are also very excited to announce some new collaborations later in 2017. We will also collaborate with a non-denim brand, so please stay tuned!