Silas Oo is a model, classically-trained artist and denim enthusiast, whom you may have seen featured in this year’s Chinese New Year campaign. A fine arts graduate from Kuala Lumpur, art has always been a part of Silas’s life, and he channels this and his interest in philosophy, psyche and the human condition into his modelling work and intricate drawings.
We caught up with Silas to chat about sci-fi and fantasy, his love for raw denim, and childhood memories spent with his grandmother during the New Year.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
I like deconstruction, details, silhouettes, something a bit reliable. I like natural fabrics and visually very raw things, like the way you would react to seeing pure marble; I like that on my clothes. I like leather, denim, linen, cotton. Just something rugged, I guess. Something a bit aged, something that has a story behind it.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN FASHION?
I’ve always been interested in the human figure, so drawing and studying it has always been something I really like. I’ve been learning since high school. Ever since I started drawing the human form, I find a lot of things I enjoy are a part of it; I like denim because it goes with the way you move. If you buy and wear a pair of raw jeans, over time it forms to you, especially Levi’s® Shrink-to-fit™. With leather, you leave the mark on your skin. It’s very earnest and it speaks to the human form, a sort of a spiritual way of seeing the body.
“I LIKE DENIM BECAUSE IT GOES WITH THE WAY YOU MOVE. IF YOU BUY AND WEAR A PAIR OF RAW JEANS, OVER TIME IT FORMS TO YOU.”
DO YOU USUALLY PLAN OUT YOUR OUTFITS OR DO YOU GO WITH THE FLOW?
A bit of both, I guess. It really depends. Usually it’s just what I feel like. I find that even if I plan outfits, I tend to change my mind the next day when I’m about to head out. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I’m just trying something new, sometimes I just want to stick to something I’m comfortable with, depending on my mood.
WHAT ARE YOU USUALLY COMFORTABLE WITH?
That again as well changes based on time. It used to be T-shirt and jeans, and now it might be different—now it might be a sarong.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PIECES YOU’VE WORN FOR A LONG TIME?
I have, but most of those I’ve retired. My first pair of jeans were Levi’s® 501®. I have other pairs of raw Japanese denim that have also been retired. They look nice, but I can’t wear them anymore as I shrunk them too much. As my body changed, I tried to tailor them and it didn’t really work. See, 18oz selvedge denim doesn’t really shrink or stretch too much, so I found I tailored it too much and I couldn’t wear them anymore. So I just kept them.
“It’ll BE NICE TO SEE RECYCLED CLOTHING BECOME MORE ACCEPTABLE IN SOCIETY.”
SO WHEN YOU RETIRE THEM, YOU JUST KEEP THEM?
Yeah, they have the imprints of your movements, like the backs of your knees creasing, they call them honeycombs. And on your thighs, it’s called whiskers. So when you sit down all the time, it creates that fading for a contrast with darks and lights.
ANY PLANS TO CUSTOMISE OR UPCYCLE THEM?
In the future perhaps, but I feel those are too nostalgic for me to touch them, or cut them up.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THRIFTING VERSUS BUYING NEW?
I think it’s good, done in consideration. I used to be a huge advocate for it, but then I realised I was buying a lot of stuff just because I could afford it. It’s the same problem that I started off trying to fix: what happens to all these clothes once it’s gone through me, the consumer?
I still thrift, but I don’t end up buying as much because I’m more aware of what I want. Thrifting in general is great if you know what you want and what to look for, and you don’t keep buying the same thing over and over again.
“WITH JEANS, I PREFER TO BUY MY DENIM RAW SO I CAN BREAK IT IN, EVEN MY JACKETS. I ALSO LIKE SOMETHING THAT’S REALLY PATCHED, REALLY AGED.”
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SHOP NOWADAYS?
It’s something I’m trying to do less of. With jeans, I prefer to buy my denim raw so I can break it in, even my jackets. I also like something that’s really patched, really aged. I enjoy both aspects of it. I also want to see more upcycling. It’ll be nice to see recycled clothing become more acceptable in society.
WE LOVE YOUR DRAWINGS! WHERE DO YOU USUALLY GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
Just what I’ve always enjoyed as a kid, such as sci-fi, fantasy, futuristic things. I grew up with a lot of ‘80s movies. That whole thing of what we used to think the future would look like from the past perspective, has always really intrigued me. It’s so different [from how things actually turned out].
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CHINESE NEW YEAR MEMORY?
I haven’t done this in a while, but one of my favourite things to do during Chinese New Year used to be making kuih kapit [Asian egg roll]. We had a barbecue-like grill on the floor which was really long and we’d make the kuih kapit there. I would sit at the front porch of my grandma’s place and we’d do that all day.