In a digital age where information and entertainment compete for the attention of our wavering fingertips, fashion has become no exception to consumers’ pursuits of instant gratification. With ‘fast fashion’ fast on the rise and brands conceiving attention-grabbing collections as quickly as they’re ripped from the runways and into the public’s wardrobe, time has become a luxury asset that many designers feel they longer possess. Darren Loke and Bryan Teo of Singapore-based leather accessory purveyor, Omitir Concepts, on the other hand, have taken the time to refine their attention to detail in their handcrafted goods. Since 2012, the pair has created products that endure the changing of seasons, while tapping into the inescapably human element of their owners by implementing utilitarian purpose. Following the launch of their fifth and latest collection, ‘LIMBS’, we speak with Loke and Teo on the ideas that culminated in the new range of leather goods, while probing their position as a contemplative brand amid a fashion landscape that stops for no one.
Bryan Teo and Darren Loke
How did Omitir Concepts come about?
Omitir means “Omit” in Spanish. It started out when we realised a lot of products we owned from our personal ‘collections’ were designed with redundant compartments or missing certain functions. We had done apparel in the past, so, moving forward, coming out with accessories and bags was second nature, as both of us carry a lot of stuff on a daily basis and are rarely seen without bags.
How do you go about striking a balance between function and form?
We don’t. It normally flows to us after discussions and coming up with sketches and samples. We start off with the assumed purpose of a certain design and then break down the components into priorities. Sometimes a desired form might contribute or hinder the the functionality, so something always has to give.
What’s the idea behind the latest collection, LIMBS?
Darren: LIMBS is our fifth collection, and the concept of it is inspired by the human form. Texture and colours like Ecru and Blanche White represent the human skin and bone respectively; Stale is dried blood and Puritan Grey is human ashes. Coincidentally, the main leather for this collection is vegetable-tanned leather, something we did not experiment with during our previous collections. The outcome was unexpected, but exactly what we had envision.
"It's so important that the person is recognised as a whole, and not just by their clothes, hair colour or objects that he or she wears."
What’s your favourite piece from LIMBS?
Bryan: Tough question. We introduce new styles into every collection. This is really a reflection of a personal needs and, as we are both doing a few other things apart from this, each stage of our lives require a different purpose in terms of bags. I currently love Article. 250 (Carry All) because I carry a lot of odd-shaped things around.
D: I would go with Article. 140 (Body Pack) as I am often travelling and running errands, and it is my most reliable companion.
Bags often take on a maximalist aesthetic for the sake of being eye-catching, but Omitir’s designs all seem to exude a minimalistic ethos. What’s the reason for this?
B: We don't like the attention, really. It's so important that the person is recognised as a whole, and not just by their clothes, hair colour or objects that he or she wears.
D: Yes, we believe that a bag shouldn't be the most important thing, nor any other object on you. Rather, it should blend in and complement the wearer. Our ethos is “Refining Necessities”, and we honestly design to complement everyone from different walks of life.
The collection’s minimalist aesthetic appears to be inspired by Japanese design. Is this the case?
B: The inspiration is not specifically Japanese. We are inspired by many things, mostly outside of fashion. Personally, I am inspired a lot by architecture and objects; looks of materials and preconceived notions of materials. You can really screw with people’s minds when you mix things up, and that's what I love, because people are just way too comfortable nowadays.
In a day and age in which branding is becoming more prominent and sought after by consumers, what are some of the challenges associated with not having prominent branding on your products?
Unfortunately, we understand that we are unable to please everyone, so we can't cater to consumers who are looking for prominent logos or branding – but, what we believe is to allow our consumers to have an up-close-and-personal interaction with our products, where they are able to feel the texture of the leather and see the accessories used. Having said that, we do have our logo on our products; it is thoughtfully hand-punched within sight of their beholder.
As a brand that takes its time to develop purpose-pushing design, what are your thoughts on fast fashion and the growing ‘see now, buy now’ trend?
D: We accept that we are surrounded by fast fashion. We have adapted in minor ways, such as having an e-commerce platform to reach international consumers, but we still stand by our principals of being ethical and only produce what we feel is the most refined of our designs. We don’t chase trends or seasons. All our collections are spread over a year, sometimes longer, but ultimately, we believe our designs are timeless and we still have customers writing to us about designs made years ago.
B: That’s a tough one. We believe that it's inevitable but, again, it's nothing new. The satisfaction and pleasure of consumers that buy one brand from another are extremely different. We are not talking about one world but, instead, multiple segments here. You can't make everyone happy. We just focus on what we do and try to do it the best we can.
Text Trent Davis
Images Omitir Concepts & Studio PERIPHERY