Issue 49

Horizon Thailand talks to Chalermkit Pokamas, founder of Just-In-Case, on how he turned his passion for shoes into a business.

Can you tell us how you entered the fashion industry?
Before starting my own business, I searched for shoes that helped me stand taller because I am not tall. I love shoes very much and I had about 50 pairs of shoes. One day I asked myself why don’t I make shoes on my own and have my own brand. Therefore, in 2012, I took a course at a shoemaking school and learned how to make shoes from scratch, gaining insight on handmade shoes before creating my brand, Just-In-Case, in early 2014.

What makes Just-In-Case stand out?
We are unique because we think differently. I believe that good design is not only about beauty, but it must help people live better and happier. Like our slogan ‘Creative Elevator Shoes With Craftsmanship’, Just-In-Case uses design to ease the problems of the wearers, as they want to look taller without anyone noticing. Our shoes have built-in heels that are invisible to anyone except the wearers. All shoes are handmade with the finest materials and can be customised to any individual. For custom-made shoes, customers can select the type of leather and design they prefer.

Who are your key customers?
Our brand has two main target groups including men and tomboys who want to increase their height. We also offer shoes for women and now the ratio of shoes for men and women is 70:30.

Have you won any awards?
Yes, our GentleBoy Collection – Shoegether – received the Design Excellence Award 2015 (DEmark). This design was inspired by my childhood when life was about fun and I believe that sometimes men still feel like children. I presented this idea through the collection, encouraging customers to express their imagination like a child. They can mix and match the colour they want for the shoes, which can be separated into two pairs for use on different occasions.

What are your future plans?
I want to expand to other countries by selling Just-In-Case shoes through my business partner’s shop in Hong Kong, and also plan to open my own shop in Laos in the near future, probably in mid-2016.

For more information, follow FB: www.facebook.com/justincaseshoes
Photo courtesy of Just-In-Case

Tags: Shoes | Design | DEmark | Brand

Issue 48

The Taiwanese artist Carrie Kuo talks to Horizon Thailand about the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute (NTCRI) and the collaboration between Thai and Taiwanese arts and crafts at the International Innovative Craft Fair (IICF) in March 2016.

Can you tell us about the NTCRI?
NTCRI has long promoted craft culture and fostered the Taiwanese cultural and creative industry. It also provides internship opportunities for college and university, graduate and undergraduate students, both domestic and foreign to retain the concept of promoting craft aesthetics, nurture art and culture professionals, and deepen cultural art education. NTCRI has once again been invited to participate at IICF 2016, showing the concept of innovative design meets traditional culture to create contemporary craft.

What is the purpose of joining IICF?
As the event is a practical stage to attract professional buyers, designers, craftsmen and distributors, it is an important platform for companies and buyers to seek collaborators for market development and trends. So NTCRI is participating for a second year with the hope that taking part in IICF 2016 will help Taiwanese cultural and creative industry enhance its competitiveness and tap into the Southeast Asian market.

What are the outstanding collections to represent Taiwanese materials and techniques?
Our arts and crafts are open to both small and large scale productions. For example, the Tung flower bag which combines indigo dye water patterns and floral fabrics, it’s a true showcase of Taiwanese indigo dye techniques. Another one is recycled wood and newspaper to preserve the environment. And the last example would be the use of ancient craft techniques; how traditional tree bark fabrics can be used to create a variety of modern and colourful outfits.

What is the collaboration between Taiwanese and Thai arts and crafts?
As we have been invited to join IICF for the second time this year, we want to not only focus on the cultural exchange and to promote local arts as we have to date, but to learn about inspiration, as well as encourage initiative, creativity, innovation and share some similar techniques, such as indigo dyeing, or how to re-use resources such as wood and newspaper. 

What do you think about Thailand’s arts and crafts?
Thailand is recognised for its design skill and craftsmanship, especially hand-made delicate techniques. Being invited to join this event is a good opportunity to exchange culture, crafts, knowledge and techniques not only for Taiwanese artists to learn from Thais, but we ourselves can help widen our vision in terms of creativity.

What are your plans and expectations for this project in the future?
Every year, the fair features a wide variety of products to showcase innovation and promote the craftsmanship of different regions. We hope that bringing together craftsmen, designers and professional distributers will enable more creative ideas. In this way, the fair will not only be a place for cultural exchange but also a site for the creation of business opportunities. 

Issue 46

Nawat Palungwitwattana and Chalitsorn Voravutikuna, the designers of Thammada Studio, explain how they interpret stories from ordinary daily life through their jewelry collection.

Can you tell us about the concept behind Thammada Studio?
Thammada is a Thai word meaning simple or basic, and this is the concept behind our designs. We are inspired by stories in daily life, and we interpret them into unique jewelry collections.

Why do you choose brass for your jewelry?
At first, we wanted to produce pure silver jewelry but the production cost was too high. We have a shop at the Chatuchak Weekend Market and wanted to offer affordable jewelry with unique designs to ordinary people, so it’s better to use cheaper materials for our jewelry. However, now we have two types of jewelry ­– silver plated brass and pure silver. The silver plated brass jewelry is about 300 to 1,200 baht per item while the pure silver costs from 700 to 3,400 baht each.

Which selection has given you most satisfaction?
So far, ‘Blue and White and Everything Nice’ or ‘Puang Ma Lai’ (Thai Garland) is the collection we are most proud of, and this design received the Design Excellence Award 2015 (DEmark). The collection was inspired by the Thai tradition of giving a flower garland to someone to express positive feelings, such as joy, love, reverence and thankfulness. It is also our best-selling collection, and winning the award has also helped promote our brand to a wider community.

Who are your main customers?
Mostly they are Thais including university students and people aged between 20 and 40. We also have customers mainly from Asian countries such as Singapore, Taiwan and Japan, as well as some from European countries. We can say that whether our customers are local people or foreigners, they all are stylish people who love uniquely designed accessories.

What are your plans for the future?
We plan to diversify our product line into home decorative products and also want to explore new opportunities in Asian markets. Since we have regular customers in Singapore, Taiwan and Japan, we are looking for partners who can display and sell our products in their shops in those countries.

For more information, follow IG: thammada_design or FB: facebook.com/thammada.studio


Issue 47

Horizon Thailand talks to Witt Maneenetr, Trade Commissioner & Consul, Thai Trade Center in Hong Kong about how Thai businesses are looking for business opportunities in Hong Kong.

What are the trade opportunities for Thai companies in Hong Kong?
Tradeshows are an important marketing tool for Hong Kong, not just to sell to Hong Kong or mainland China but there is a chance to connect to buyers from all over the world. Many Thai companies in Hong Kong are actually looking for customers from as far away as South America or Russia. It’s also a place for them to meet up with existing customers and show their new products.

What kind of Thai products attract foreign buyers?
Apart from jewellery and food, cosmetics have now become an important product made in Thailand, especially cosmetics that are natural, organic or associated with health and well-being. In the last two or three years Thailand has been very successful in manufacturing cosmetics for companies overseas. Moreover, digital content which includes mobile application development, graphic design and animation is also growing.

What are Thailand’s strength in the gems and jewellery industry?
Thailand’s strength is in silver jewellery and colour stones. Thai businesses and brands have very good designs and are always developing products and new collections. Some of the Thai companies that are participating at the Hong Kong International Jewellery Fair have designs that really appeal to Japanese customers. So companies that want to export should always be thinking of new products. The DIY trend in the jewellery industry is also becoming more popular now, such as charm bracelets which make each piece of jewellery unique for customers. Each charm may not cost much but together their value adds up.

How has the Thai jewellery industry changed in the last few years?
Thai gems and jewellery manufacturers used to do OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) but the DITP has been working with many organisations to develop their business. Now 70% to 80% of Thai companies participating at the jewellery fair here are doing ODM (Original Design Manufacturing) or OBM (Original Brand Manufacturing). Now Thailand’s advantage lies in the reasonable price of labour for craftsmen in the jewellery industry compared to labour costs in other manufacturing countries. We also need to develop ourselves to be a trading centre. If foreign investors are manufacturing in Thailand we should help find markets for them, they will come to us and we can create many opportunities for the country.

What are the new trends that we should be aware of?
Digital and intellectual property rights (IPR) is what everybody should be paying attention to. These trends will have an effect across many industries and especially on trade. With new technology coming out every day, lawmakers and businesspeople have to find a way to monitor and track the new changes that are happening in the digital platform.  

Issue 45

Horizon Thailand talks to Worrachai Siriwipanan, or TEE, about his inspiration for creating BASIC TEEORY, an eco-friendly brand of accessories that is proving popular in international markets.

Can you tell us about how BASIC TEEORY started?
BASIC TEEORY was officially founded and launched in December 2014 with the concept of ‘making a difference’ to accessories in the market. In my opinion, I think the value of accessories doesn’t depend on the precious materials they are made with – like gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, precious stones or rare materials – but it depends on the real value hidden in common and forgotten materials. BASIC TEEORY then draws out the value of common materials by using creativity to add more value.

What do you think is special about BASIC TEEORY?
BASIC TEEORY is very special and unique. It is absolutely different from other accessories. I use unexpected materials such as waste and recycled paper to create a wide range of wearable art. Moreover, I use various techniques to add value to my products such as printing techniques in creating beautiful graphics and laminating techniques to protect them from moisture. BASIC TEEORY is also a really eco-friendly brand because most of the materials used are from waste products.

What awards have you received?
Last year, I was chosen to be a designer at Talent Thai Now by the DITP, and also as one of the Creativepreneurs in the craft sub-sector in Indonesia so I had a great opportunity to showcase my products in Jakarta. Also, BASIC TEEORY is currently selected as a ‘Rising Star’ in the TOP THAI BRANDS show by DITP.

Who are your main customers?
BASIC TEEORY’s customers are women aged from 30 to 65 who love uniqueness and are looking for masculine-styled accessories. They are from France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, the US and Australia.

What are the main factors behind your success?
I think BASIC TEEORY’s success comes from its uniqueness. I turn a weak point in materials into a strong point, and this finally becomes a selling point.

What does the future hold for TEEORY?
I plan to make my brand an international brand. Now, I’m trying to showcase my work in Thailand and abroad, participating in both domestic and international competitions to get BASIC TEEORY known worldwide, as much as I can.

How do you feel about the new generation of Thai SME entrepreneurs?
Nowadays, there are many new SME entrepreneurs and each of them tries to differentiate their products. I think if they keep on developing and creating new things, Thai SMEs will definitely gain a market share not only in the domestic market, but also on international markets.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/basicteeory