Thai fashion label Tube Gallery
When a young artist and dancer teamed up with an aspiring theater director many years ago neither of them could have guessed that, by combining their talents and parlaying them into a new fashion label, they would have such an illustrious and long-running career.
That’s the backstory of Tube Gallery. It’s also serves as a synopsis for their new exhibition at River City in Bangkok. Celebrating the label’s twentieth anniversary, this showcase has now been extended until May 20 due to the pandemic-in-progress.
The designing duo launched their career by selling ready-to-wear items in leading department stores. From such humble beginnings, creative directors Saksit Pisalasupongs and Phisit Jongnarangsin have turned Tube Gallery into one of Thailand’s best-known and edgiest fashion labels.
As the creators like to say, the brand is all about “dramatic but yet fun designs, ready-to-wear with a touch of semi couture.” That approach has served them well. Their colorful creations have been showcased at major fashion shows in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Sydney and Paris.
The twosome also has a penchant for designing theatrical costumes. In their homeland they designed the splendid regalia for the “Manorah” royal ballet performed during the cremation of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In Singapore, they have thrice won Theatre Awards from the leading newspaper The Straits Times for their designs. (Saksit likes to joke that this is as close as he’s come to enjoying any success in the theater.) And for the Southeast Asian Games 2015, Phisit and Saksit teamed up once again to mastermind the costumes for both the opening and closing ceremonies.
Their dramatic flair has won them a loyal fanbase among local and international celebrities. Some of the big names and paparazzi fodder spotted in Tube Gallery creations include Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud, Ashley Robert from The Pussycat Dolls, and Stephanie Nala from X Factor UK.
Lest anyone think that the pair are resting on their laurels, the retrospective set to reopen shortly at River City also showcases new work that riffs on some of their older motifs, such as collaborating with artists like Christian Develter, a famous contemporary creator and wunderkind from Belgium. The fruits of that collaboration were presented to the King and Queen of Belgium during their visit to Bangkok when they were then the Crown Prince and Crown Princess.
The duo’s new muse is Ploy Kasom, a gifted young artist whose rich palette was enlarged and colorized by the label’s creative directors. At the exhibition on now viewers can check out their new collection that was inspired by her work.
Due to the social distancing policies in effect right now we sent Saksit some questions to answer by email.
First of all, congratulations on your 20-year anniversary and fashion exhibition at River City – that was a spectacular show and party! How has the reception been overall?
Thank you very much. We were lucky to hold the opening party and the exhibition just before the Covid-19 situation went downhill. The night went fabulously well and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves very much. It was well received by the public and River City requested to extend the show until the end of May.
How did the collaboration for the new pieces with artist Ploy Kasom come about? What attracted you to her artworks?
We had been admiring Ploy’s work for some time before asking her to collaborate with us. The vivid colors, the meticulous detail and the abstract images in her paintings are what we were attracted to. We could see the quality in her works that could develop into fashion work. When I told Phisit about my intention to work with Ploy, he said he had the same idea. Phisit went to see Ploy in Chiangmai to discuss it with her and that is how it begun.
How did your journey into fashion design begin? Did you always have the ambition as a young person to ultimately become a fashion designer and launch your own label?
Phisit and I are childhood friends. We have known each other for more than 35 years. Phisit started the brand when I was still studying in London and looking forward to becoming a theater director. When I came back, he asked if I would like to join the company. Fashion has always been my passion as well, and I also wanted to generate some income to support my theater ambitions, so I said ‘yes’.
How did the name Tube Gallery come about?
Originally the brand was called Tube. Phisit named it after visiting me in London when I was studying there and he first heard people call the underground transport system the ‘tube.’ It fit well with the original style and market, a small and simple brand conforming to minimalism, the trend of the time. Then we opened a bigger shop in a bigger store. The direction of the brand changed from being ready-to-wear to be more of a designer brand. So we decided to add the word ‘gallery’ to indicate that this bigger store we just opened was the space to display our works of fashion.