Sean and Sheila
May 17 2017
SEAN & SHEILA
Malaysian Sean Loh and Indonesian Sheila Agatha met at the Raffles Design Institute Singapore. The talented duo (who were dating then) won in their respective categories in the Harper’s Bazaar Asia New Generation Award 2015 – Sean for Malaysia and Sheila for Indonesia, and decided to work together to launch their namesake label after the competition.
“I know that I want to design womenswear, so I feel that she will be able to help me understand women more to come up with better designs,” said Sean. “And for her, she designs more masculine pieces and I am able to help inject more romantic details into her designs to balance it out.”
SEAN & SHEILA focuses on “mixing Asian and Western aesthetics together” i.e. modernising Asian traditions / elements and fusing it with Western aesthetics. The end results are tailored classic pieces which are embedded with beautiful hand-sewn embroidery, offering customers a touch of tradition via its own unique perspective of modernity. Naming Tilda Swinton as their muse, the couple designs for the woman who is not afraid of being herself; not afraid of individuality.
And it seems that they are heading in the right direction. In Sean’s own words, he is shocked that they are “abnormally successful”. SEAN & SHEILA’s first collection was picked up by Galarie Lafayette in Jakarta, and fast-forward three seasons later, their designs are now stocked in Singapore, Japan, London and the Middle East.
“We are very lucky. We don’t really focus on the commercial part (whether a design will sell). We tend to design what we like and stand by it,” quipped Sean.
Sean and Sheila produce an estimate of 200 pieces of their garment per month with a team of 9 Indonesian seamstresses who are either deaf or dumb in their studio that is located at Central Java, five hours away from Jakarta. “We’d always known from Day 1 that we wanted to work with disabled seamstresses as a mean for us to give back to society,” said Sheila. “It will take us roughly double the time to work with them, as compared to the normal seamstresses, especially with the intricate designs and embroidery, but we won’t have it any other way.”
On their big dream for the brand, Sean and Sheila hoped that their clothes could be stocked in the key departmental stores around the world, and “of course, to see more people wearing our clothes!”
On how it’s like to design and work together as a married couple now, Sheila laughingly replied, “Oh gosh, there are more frequent arguments. Hahah … but we work it out!”
FUN FACTS ABOUT SEAN & SHEILA
Qn 1: One item which is always in your bag?
Sean: Earphones. I like to be in my own zone. Haha .. I listen to really old music such as soul music from the 50’s, Jazz, Otis Redding, etc.
Sheila: Lipstick. I don’t know why but I just need to have them in my bag.
Qn 2: Favourite city?
Sean: For me, It’s Paris. I love the energy of the city, the weirdness of it and the unique lifestyle. The Parisians are relaxed. They like to be different and they embrace it.
Sheila: London! I love the modernity of the city. It is fast-paced and buzzling. But there are still room for everyone to have their own space to do their own things.
Qn 3: Apple or orange?
Sean & Sheila: Definitely orange! It is easier to eat. Hahah .. Apple is harder to chew!
Qn 4: Pink pants or pink shoes?
Sean & Sheila: Pink Shoes please. (Sheila) Pink pants are too much for him.