My Bag

Shirts to be 'enjoyed'

Designer Larry Peh makes shirts with little details that solve common problems

He entered the fashion industry less than three years ago, but is no Larry-come-lately.

Designer Larry Peh, 38, traded in a 15-year, award-winning career in advertising and business design in 2013 to co-found menswear fashion label Faculty with his friends Lenz Fan and Lyn She.

The switch was a "natural progression", he says.

"Entering fashion has been a smooth transition for me so far, since the clothing that I design is ready to wear and doesn't follow seasons or trends."

He credits French art director Fabien Baron, as well as Harper's Bazaar magazine, as inspiration for his clothing designs, which are available at K+ Faculty at Scotts Square.

Many of Faculty's pieces are in different shades of grey, a tribute to grey matter, which he believes controls the decisions people make.

LARRY PEH ON HIS BAG: "Faculty Buaisou handmade tote bag. It is much bigger than the usual ones sold here, which cost about $40. I think I'm the only one with one this size. The dark blue colour goes well with a lot of other colours and there's a lot of room for items." ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

"I like to imagine what I wish to see in clothing, such as little improvements that would make wearing them more enjoyable," he says.

"A lot of the ideas come from the clothes I work in and the problems I want to solve."

For example, Faculty's shirts are designed with bigger sleeve holes and shorter sleeve lengths, in order to prevent the cuff of the sleeves from hitting big watches. It is a problem that he says many men have with their shirts.

This also fits in with the branding he wants to promote in his label, which is for the wearer to be able to step out of the house and return home looking the same: a worn-in and felt-in look.

Of all the clothes in his fashion label, the ones he is proudest of are his damaged denim jeans, which he wears to the interview with Life.

He says: "Damaged denim is something no-one has really done in Singapore. It's very easy to get raw denim jeans, but to have them look damaged, yet good to wear, is a work of art."

The jeans are bought "raw" or untouched, and he systematically rips and cuts designs into them to give them the damaged effect.

With regards to his own fashion sense, he describes it as basic utilitarian, yet at the same time, unpredictable.

Peh, who is married to an art teacher and has two children, jokes: "I can change like a chameleon. Whether you want me to wear a rock star Metallica T-shirt or a three-piece pocket suit, I bet I could pull it off."

Peh, the creative director of design studio &Larry, was one of the three winners of the Designer Of The Year award at the President Design Awards ceremony last year.

Aside from fashion design, Faculty has also collaborated with other artisan firms and companies, including Japanese natural dye company Buaisou, ceramic company Sueki ceramics and visual artist John Clang to produce its works.

For instance, he used the Buaisou dyes for his signature damaged jeans.

He is optimistic that his label will be treasured by those in the know, 10 years into the future.

"Hopefully, my brand can age well, like whiskey," he adds.

8 Things In His Bag

1. Dickies For Beams cap

This cap is casual and exudes street-style, and is easy to match with most clothes. I wear it when I don't have time to style my hair.

2. Headporter cardcase

This cardcase has a lanyard forme to carry it around my neck, so I don't misplace it. I prefer using cards for my purchases because of loyalty benefits.

3. Headporter cardholder

I picked an interesting shade of orange because I usually forget to take things with me if I don't see them immediately.

4. Faculty notebook

I use this to document Buaisou indigo dyes. I will probably get more notebooks for other uses, including to sketch designs.

5. Headporter spectacle case

Like the cardcase, I carry this on a lanyard around my neck. It's good for a quick practical switch between shades and spectacles.

6. K+Faculty rubber stamp

This was a present from Buaisou, our collaborators. It's usually used to stamp the products, but I keep it in my bag for its sentimental value.

7. Dettol sanitiser

I have very sensitive skin. I can itch or break out in a rash easily, especially in hot weather. This is a good cure for them.

8. Keyset

This comes with a clip so I can attach it to my lanyard or jeans. The black ones are for the office and the silver ones are for the home.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline Designer Larry Peh makes shirts with little details that solve common problems. Subscribe