ISLEAN VALATH HAS always been interested in making things. Whilst still working in the financial sector, she would design her own office wear and have them tailored. She also handmade various headpieces for her visits to the Melbourne Cup races every year which proved to be such hits that she started making them for her friends.
Islean then realised that she had more than an admiration for fashion; she had an eye for design. And so she began to question her career choice.
Her answer was simple: start her own fashion line and create clothes for women.
With no formal education in fashion — other than being an understudy over at a pattern maker in Hong Kong (of whom she describes as very good but also very fierce), Islean started ARC, a label that offers minimalistic clothes with strong clean lines and a geometric aesthetic for women who aren’t afraid.
Islean has always been inspired by stories. For her Spring/Summer 2014 collection, she took inspiration from the story of Bilistiche, a slave who was ahead of her time, who not only participated in the ancient Olympics as an equal to men but also won several medals. However, she is also the beloved mistress of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, king of Ptolemaic Egypt back in 283 BC to 246 BC. Bilistiche’s double status — Olympics winner and mistress to the king of Ptolemaic Egypt, intrigued Islean:
The result is a graphical collection of clothes with hints of sportswear influences. Islean cleverly infuses elements such as sheer fabric, ruffles, soft shoulders and bare midriffs to bring out the femininity of the wearer. This season, the ARC woman is not afraid to turn her sweat on in the morn and be that sensual woman for her lover at night
When asked what her goals were for her label, Islean labeled herself as a practical person and said that all of them relate to sales. She aims to gain a wider distribution network throughout Asia and beyond. While she has managed to gain a good presence in Singapore and Hong Kong in the short span of just a year, Islean hopes to go bigger and further.
Her participation in Digital Fashion Week last November gave her the opportunity to speak with the press from Jakarta, interact with buyers from Shanghai, as well as new fans who were interested to get a piece of ARC.
While Hollywood based actresses such as Sharni Vinson and Tatyana Ali were recently added into ARC’s list of clients, Islean says she would like to see more strong women in her clothes, ones who identifies with her brand’s ethos, celebrity or not.