Filipino fashion designer Don Protasio is the creative director for the bi-annual Phnom Penh Designers’ Week, which holds its menswear show next Thursday. This week, he gave Audrey Wilson a rundown of the city’s best bets for unique fashion finds.
I really love A.N.D (#75 Street 240) for their fabrics. Their signature is cotton ikat, and the designer, Alan James Flux, is really trying to promote it. He’s showing at Phnom Penh Designers’ Week. Their clothes in the store are more tropical, but you can buy the fabric and make it your own style. They can customise stuff for you, too. I’ve bought fabric for a lot of my friends who are working in the fashion industry, with high-end brands – based in New York or Hong Kong – and whenever I bring them to A.N.D. and they see the fabrics, they’re amazed. It’s very affordable, around $50. And you get handwoven stuff, antique fabrics for a little more. They’re really doing something that I think is quite amazing for Cambodia: making a product that Cambodia can be proud of.
Bobo (#202 Street 19) is this store on Street 19. The designer and owner of the store showed last year with us. The whole idea for the store is really bourgeois boheme, very upscale Bohemian, which can be a bad thing for some people, but it works in their selection. They have products from all over Asia, and from India, too. It’s a very well-curated store, and I like the choices that they have there. I particularly like the handmade eyewear, the brand is Shadowlands. It’s a company based in Bali. It’s not cheap – it’s around $100 – but it’s not as expensive as other designer brands, and the quality you get is amazing.
Don Don Down on Wednesday
Don Don (Heng Ly Market, #111 Street 271) has been open for two years, I think. It’s a Japanese thrift shop with a Japanese concept. It’s a chain – they have around 600 outlets in Japan. The whole idea is to make a game out of thrifting. Everything is $8 or less. Every Wednesday, they lower the price. The game is up to you: if you find something, would you wait for another week to lower the price or buy it now? The amount of product turnover ends up being huge. After a week, they have new products again. I really like thrifting, and looking for vintage stuff. I also love Japanese designers. Sometimes you get really lucky and find Yohji Yamamoto or Comme des Garçons for like, what, $1. It’s amazing, right?
Christine Gauthier, the designer at Waterlily (#37EO Street 240), has been here for a long time. And she’s been consistent with her vision for her store: primarily, she’s an accessories designer. She’s venturing a little into clothes now. I like to go there and ask her to customise pieces for me. She uses a lot of stuff that she finds in the local market or is vintage. She goes to flea markets and buys all this stuff and then deconstructs it and uses it for her accessories. Christine really knows her way around: she knows the market, and she knows who to get the materials from. She has tonnes of beads, unique materials, whatever. She’s great to talk to: she can always suggest stuff just for you.
Shyleafs (Corner of Street 278 and Street 57) is an urbanwear store. What I like about it is that it’s not the typical Khmer store. It’s really for young people who like urban streetwear. It’s a little bit dark: jogger pants, hoodies, oversized graphic t-shirts. Everything is black, white and grey – and there’s some military stuff. They have a good following and the products are very cheap, like $10. I just like the idea that there’s somebody out there who would open a store like that and not go for the typical sort of cutesy, preppy style or very tropical and touristy style. Shyleafs is very distinct, and it’s unique for Cambodia to have that kind of store. It’s sort of like the kind of thing you would find in Sydney, or somewhere like that. More urban.