Pursuing your dream career in a foreign country takes courage and self-belief, as we find out from Cambodia-born fashion designer Meas Sothmeta.
“In society, we have to play a role and put on a mask at times to be accepted and successful,” says 23-year-old Meas Sothmeta. The budding fashion designer translates her worldly observations into wearable works of art, evidenced by her thought-provoking collection ‘Alienated’ which features pierced ring hardware, buckles and even wax adorns. Her labours of love have proven successful since chasing her dream – taking her from humble beginnings in her hometown, to the glitzy runways of the recent Singapore Fashion Week 2017. We caught up with the creative wunderkind on parental pressures, the challenges she’s faced, and the changes she hopes to see in the world.
Congratulations on your graduate showcase at Singapore Fashion Week 2017! How was the experience?
Thank you! It was surreal to watch my designs being showcased to the public and remembering my four years of hard work as a MDIS student. I was thrilled to be part of this tremendous event.
Was it your first runway showcase? How did you prepare for it?
Yes, it was my debut runway showcase. In order to make sure my collection was executed well, I checked through each of my pieces carefully and ensured all the details were up to standard.
How did you discover your passion for fashion design?
I have always been fascinated with fashion design and wanted to make a career of it. My grandmother was my biggest source of inspiration – she was once a tailor and I grew up hearing stories about her work. I also like how clothing can reflect character and tell a story. For me, fashion is really a form of art.
What made you decide to enroll in MDIS School of Fashion and Design?
Upon doing my research, I discovered that MDIS partners with the renowned Nottingham Trent University in the UK to deliver the fashion design course. I felt that it would be exciting to study with people from all over Asia, and I learned a lot from my lecturers and classmates who come from different backgrounds and cultures. We shared and exchanged so many ideas. It’s amazing to be surrounded by creative people.
How did your family and friends react to your decision to pursue fashion design as a professional career? Were they supportive?
Not in the beginning. It was difficult to decide between following my passion and adhering to my family’s wishes. As fashion design did not appear to have a future in Cambodia, my parents suggested that I think twice and pursue more lucrative majors like pharmaceuticals, medicine or finance instead. Hence, I enrolled in a business economy course in Cambodia for a few months, but it just wasn’t me. When I decided to change courses, my parents didn’t object. In fact, they ended up being very supportive. I think they are happy to see me finding my own calling now.
The graduate showcase was themed ‘Shades of Millennials’. What does being a millennial mean to you?
I feel like being a millennial is always progressive. You’ve got to be fast and smart in every step, and not play it safe all the time.
What’s a misconception about being a millennial that you would like to set straight?
People might think that we’re obsessed with technology, but for me, I use technology as a tool for my work. Being a millennial is a big challenge because there are always negative comments about us being so much different from the earlier generations.
What are your plans after graduation?
I’d like to explore new things, meet new people and be inspired. There’s always room to grow and improve oneself. I also want to learn new designing skills so that I can always be progressive and on track with my designs.
What’s one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring designers?
Be true to yourself, and do not give up on your passion. Work so hard that you don’t have an excuse to fail and believe in what you are doing. Hard work can beat talent, but once talent and hard work are combined, that’s all it takes to create amazingness.
All photos by: Meas Sothmeta. This article was adapted from the December 2017 issue of Teenage.
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