A phone call with Karlmond Tang

If you are as curious as I am, you might wonder how Economics degree-holder, Karlmond Tang, with a promising career in finances, became a creative director for the fashion world. Karlmond, like almond with a K (says his Instagram and other social media outlets), does writing, styling and photography, but his interests do not stop there. A two-hour conversation with him not only revealed an interesting perspective on the fashion industry, but also a genuine sense of curiosity in others and a deep appreciation for clothing.

One can immediately tell that Karlmond feels very strongly about certain things, he accords a lot of importance to titles and professions. “I feel like a lot of things have lost value in terms of titles and names,” he said with intensity, “We don’t develop an understanding of what words mean or what professions are. People tend to call themselves art directors instead of creative director because ‘art’ sounds more fancy. So many professions are self-proclaimed,” he continued.

If Karlmond applies the same amount of fervour to his work, then it is no wonder that he has met with such success: His blog is one of the most prominent ones in the realm of menswear. What makes Karlmond’s blog stand out from others is the harmonising process between “images and words”. His interest in fashion, photography and writing has allowed him to create something enjoyable both visually and intellectually. When asked about his passion for photography, he said: “When I first started looking at photography, I thought ‘ah, I want to take pictures that look like this or make me feel this way.’” The rest is history. Knowing the influence behind the beautiful and well-thought writing on the other hand, took a certain amount of inquisition. He finally admitted: “With the writing, I don’t actually know where that came from. I think I always liked writing as a kid.

His personality comes across as genuine and open and part of it stems from the way he does not shy away from stating his preferences. In a little anecdote, he described how four years ago, when he was attending Fashion Week for the second time in his life, his peers were shocked at his overt discontentment with one of the shows they had just seen. He added: “I didn’t want to be part of a circle where people were afraid to dislike or hate things. I wish more people were confident in their own taste. […] I think people are definitely [anxious] to like everything because the minute you say you don’t like something, you have to be prepared to defend it because that’s the point of criticism.”

But how did Karlmond end up in the fashion industry? His Asian background meant that he had to follow his parents’ wishes and study Economics, but it didn’t take him long to find his true vocation. “I really love clothing” he explained, “Fashion is the natural avenue for someone who likes clothing.” His favourite fashion items are coats and trousers because he likes the challenge of collecting them: “There isn’t a lot of variety around trousers and obviously we [men] don’t work around skirts and dresses”. He also mentioned the desire to see more diversity on the high street, especially in the menswear section. When asked if he sees fashion as being too recycled, he showed empathy and understanding towards designers who have to produce 24-50 innovative looks every season. “There’s nothing wrong with bringing [something] back,” he added, “as long as you try to bring it forward or add a contemporary element to it. You should always try to add contemporary elements to reinvigorate aspects of the past.” He illustrated his point using Paul Smith’s recent Caribbean-esque show. Karlmond loved the fact that the clothes were colourful and loose but still maintained a sharp tailoring. “Did you feel like you were on a Caribbean beach?” I teased, to which he retorted, “I was expecting ackee and rice!”

As well as being insightful, Karlmond’s thoughts proved to be as distinctive as his moustache. I was particularly impressed with his desire to venture into other art forms. Last December, he created an installation that was up for exhibition for six weeks at the YYK London showroom. His thoughts on the matter are: “I really liked that. It’s nice to create something physical in a world where everything is digital.” His next one is now a work in progress.

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