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People In Tawn Chatchavalvong's Universe Of Optimism

In Tawn Chatchavalvong's Universe Of Optimism

In Tawn Chatchavalvong's Universe Of Optimism
By Priya Lodha
August 01, 2020
Priya Lodha meets fashion designer Tawn Chatchavalvong, who says an optimistic attitude is crucial to balancing a burgeoning business and a healthy home life

Born and raised in Bangkok, 44-year-old Tawn Chatchavalvong is the founder of a successful eponymous fashion label and holder of a pyramid of excellence award from the Fashion Institute Academia Italiana. The only child of businessman Sudha and homemaker Prathana, young Tawn was heavily influenced by his parents and remains close to them today. “I admire my father’s teachings and his optimism. He has shaped me into the person I am. I live not far from mum and dad and I try to spend time with them every week. They help me to stay grounded and focused,” the designer says.

Before making a name for himself in the apparel industry, Tawn pursued a master’s degree in Asia and Pacific studies from the University of San Francisco. It wasn’t until he experienced the Big Apple that his passion for fashion kicked in. “I wasn’t sure what I was looking for until I went to New York and met friends who were film producers and fashion designers. I loved the whole creative milieu and it was then that I realised that perhaps I could also have a career in fashion.” That said, he didn’t pursue the idea immediately, instead showing the sense of commitment instilled in him by his father to gain work experience in advertising prior to setting up his fashion brand in 2011.

Approaching the 10th anniversary of his Tawn C label, he has much to reflect happily on, not least a successful operation in Bangkok that creates two collections every year, which are normally shown at Paris Fashion Week where he has a local sales agent. With the Covid-19 pandemic, however, he’s had to move his business to digital platforms, both his own e-commerce channel and others such as Lazada. For now, he has shifted to a season-less collection with new colours, easy-to-wear pieces and a more affordable price point. He is also planning to launch the spring-summer 2021 collection at the same time as Paris Fashion Week in September in a digital format.

He observes people, patterns and textures for inspiration. “Even smells,” he laughs. “I also make a point of talking to women about what they wear—what they find comfortable and practical, what makes them feel special. I use my instincts to connect the dots, to create something new with my own approach.” Tawn isn’t afraid to experiment with the classic and contemporary either, for instance designing in a glamorous 1970s style but throwing in twists from the 80s. He also experiments with the nature of his work, adding mood and feeling into it. “I believe that clothing is empowering. Using my imagination I get to add to the emotional story of the wearer,” explains the man who is also a popular figure in diplomatic circles.

Despite his busy schedule as a designer—and increasingly as a businessman as his brand grows—Tawn makes sure he sets aside time for himself. “You must have a bit of ‘me time’ occasionally,” he laughs. “It provides balance in life and allows you to focus on the small but important personal things you have going on. I keep to a routine that includes some exercise and being carful about what I eat. Work can be hectic so I also try to snatch a few quiet moments to meditate.” Married to American Christopher Schultz for the last 20 years, Tawn divides his time between the US and Thailand. When he does find some solitude you’ll most likely catch him brushing up on his French and baking.

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