Discover the fashion world of MONLADA
A passion-driven Thai brand that captures people’s hearts
A party girl with high degree of hotness turned a gifted designer, Monlada “Duang” Pongpanit focuses all her energy to her proud Thai brand, MONLADA. MONLADA is known for its elegant and unique female clothing line
with two other sub brands under it. Today we are taking you to dig deep and discover the meaning of the design beneath the world of MONLADA – the Thai brand that the world is watching.
When Duang was a teenager she wanted to find herself and to really build something of her own. But before that she needed to pass all her confusion and complication such as taking singing course or dancing. She almost even joined the world of entertainment. Yet her life took a turn and she became the owner of the brand MONLADA.
“Before I started studying fashion, I took a singing and dancing course. I had tried all kinds of things including being an MC or a reporter. Unfortunately, I could not pronounce the /r/ sound in Thai clear enough and I realized I was more of an artist. I came to think that being an actress or a TV hostess would last only for a few years. Being in the entertainment industry, beauty is quite important. And one day if my beauty were to faded, I wouldn’t’ be able to compete with young girls. But if I went for a designer, I don’t need to sell my outer appearance. I can work back stage. No matter how long time passes, I can still design my work and I am determined to work my whole life,” said Duang.
Once her mind was made, she decided to enter the world of fashion by taking a short course at Saint Martin in England. Thanks to facing tough teachers and experiences, she became who she is today.
“Studying at Saint Martin was really fun. We were in class from morning till evening and we continued working till 2 am the next morning. There were tension and a lot of competition going on between us students. We needed to presented out work in front of the class and if your work sucked, you would be embarrassed. Also, the teachers there were very tough. One time I just finished sewing and I felt like the cloth that I just sewed was really cool. My teacher walked in and said ‘Your fabric looks cheap.’ and she threw my piece away. I was quite shocked. I went to the bathroom and cried. But that incident motivated me. I told myself I would make this fabric worth a hundred thousand in the market, just wait and see. And after that I tried harder, worked harder and realized that I couldn’t only focus on myself but everybody else around me. So when I finished with Saint Martin, I took another more serious course at Parsons School in New York. The school was more into business and gave us a taste of the real world. The time there was less than 3 months.
When I came back, I started my brand from a little studio in Prachachuen. It was fun and exciting at first then love and passion drove me to branding and designing. It results in clear DNA of MONLADA bound in every piece of her work. The said DNA reflects beauty, luxury and delicacy along with stories from different ages.
“When I came back, I told my mom I wanted to start a clothing brand. She gave me and old house to turn it into a studio. We renovated, decorated and set up a small team there. Our very first collection was Love-Death. Of course, the inspiration was from love and death. Love represented delicate clothes. Though people would look at Death as a sinister but we looked at Death as Forever and it reminded me of my father. And that was our first collection where tenderness and strength, two contrasting elements, mixed together in style.”
At Saint Martin, I was taught that I needed to find an inspiration first then the concept. In addition, when I designed clothes for MONLADA, I brought in the history costumes and redesign them by adding some modern touches so we could wear them in present and we would not forget the past. It was a joy going back to history and it allowed me to gain more knowledge as well. Getting this kind of inspiration, you must have your own standpoint and maintain it. If we are weak, our standpoint is weak. When we design our work, it would look like we take it from a magazine and redesign it. If we stick to our own standpoint, we can mix it with modern day design.
Though Duang is fascinated by clothe designing and putting her own DNA into MONLADA, when it comes to reality, everything must be about the sales. MONDALA might only hit a small market in Thailand so Duang expands her business to capture a bigger market.
“Apart from MONLADA, we do have MONLADA HOMME and NOIRZ by MONLADA. Originally we had HOMME included in MONLADA fashion show but we did not branch it out to a new brand. Until HOMME went far and well, I decided to make it a new brand. For NOIRZ, I’ve planned to launch this brand for a while. In terms of marketing, prices for MONLADA are quite high and it focuses only on a certain target group. It’s quite hard to sell and it’s too risky not having another brand to cover the bigger market. That was when we started NOIRZ. NOIRZ brings in lots of revenue. It’s not expensive and youngsters can afford. There are various items to be picked and mixed. For example, three sisters with different styles walking in to the NOIRZ together, they all can find their own styles. Something like that.
It’s been 7 years that MONLADA has been recognized and it continues to grow. As an accepted Thai designer, Duang said her ultimate dream is to have MONLADA featured globally.
“Let’s get back to reality. I’ve learned so much. Many things are not as I have dreamed of. It’s not only about beauty but marketing and sales as well. What I want to do is to think about how I can make MONLADA as impressive as I have impressed with Prada when I saw its ad in a magazine. I want my brand to have a place in people’s hearts. I want to make people know that MONLADA sells clothes with its unique style. I constantly think about how to make my brand continue further, not just 7-8 years and stop. If my brand can continue forever, that’s my success.”
Only love cannot get her through problems and obstacles and become a Thai designer this long. She needs her good team, new things to learn, strong standpoint and quality work with standard. We believe
MONLADA, MONLADA HOMME and NOIRZ by Monlada will launch something fun for us to see in the future. It is another Thai brand we should keep an eye on. And this is the world of fashion of a beautiful, great and spicy woman named Monlada “Duang” Pongpanit.