Revenge Of The Nerds

Bangkok fashion label Q Design & Play makes inventive clothes for introverts, on and off the runway.

There's something really geeky about Q Design & Play. The Bangkok-based label's designs allude to metal pencil cases, Staedtler rasoplast erasers, advanced geometry, and quirky patterned pajama sets. It's a dreamy aesthetic that evokes a lonely adolescence, one where lunch hours are spent sketching in the art room or reading in the library.

Praphat Somboonsitti—the Bangkok-based mastermind who runs the menswear brand alongside his business partner, Ekkapoom Treechairusmee—was bullied as a kid. In his work, he doesn't shy away from the alienation of his youth. In fact, he plumbs it for inspiration. For Fall/Winter '14 collection, "Weird Dream," that meant sending his models down the runway in full headgear and clothes affixed with patches reading "KICK ME" and "Nerd." In the collection's official statement of purpose, he cites "childhood memories from my very own imaginary world" and "dreams that no one understood then" as primary influences.

Though he may have been an isolated kid, Somboonsitti flourished in post-adolescence; after studying graphic design at university and working as an art director for an ad agency, he branched out into fashion. With help from Treechairusmee, he launched a graphic T-shirt e-store in 2010 that has since evolved into the unique, multi-faceted brand they run today. Q Design & Play is now split into two distinct entities: an avant-garde Design line that shows at Bangkok Fashion Week, and a lifestyle brand called Basiq. While Design allows Somboonsitti to experiment with high-brow forms, like neo-utilitarian suiting and unwieldy silhouettes, Basiq is more, well, basic. "I focus on responding to the demands of the customers," he told FADER over email, speaking on the more casual half of his brand. "With Basiq, I'm designing clothes for everyday wear."

According to Somboonsitti, it's easy for him to split his creativity between the two lines. For the Basiq collections, he channels a cartoonish fictional boy named "Q Boy." If Design reflects the intellectual and artistic preoccupations of a misunderstood youth, Q Boy is that characters' conformist alter ego. In well-tailored separates with embellishments that only hint at quirkiness, "Q Boy" knows how to fit in. Basiq's 2014 lookbook—set against the arena seating of a high school race track—reflects its populist leanings with logo-ed sweatshirts, mass-market friendly chinos, and a specific sort of unstudied cool.

While Basiq makes Q Design & Play an intriguing model for avant-garde brands interested in making money actually selling clothes, the Design side of things is clearly where Somboonsitti does his most outside-the-box thinking. "I use all the techniques from my graphic design training, from drawing to collaging to photographing." The resulting pieces are tailoring marvels not bound by trends or gender conventions: a sweatshirt with a built-in pocket protector, bomber jackets cut from a shimmering black material and branded with "Hi-Polymer Eraser," shorts cut so wide they resemble skirts. Though designed and manufactured in Thailand, Q Design & Play has a placeless, somewhat universal appeal that allows Somboonsitti to have his cake and eat it too: Basiq fills the needs of today's trends, and Design offers a nerdy—and brilliantly crafted—vision of the future.

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    Lead Image & Gallery: Q Design & Play S/S '15 "Mars Plastic"

    Revenge Of The Nerds