MTV VJ Utt: Working it in a skirt for Men's Fashion Week 2011
The men's fashion industry in Asia may have just found its biggest champion in MTV VJ Utt.
Doing more than just lending his high profile name and well known voice to the Men's Fashion Week 2011 (March 30-April 3), he'll also return to the catwalk -- the first time in a decade -- happy to strut his stuff in a variety of outfits; including a man skirt and some futuristic-looking togs.
Unconventional outfits aside, the self-professed low maintenance dresser has also played a key role in curating some of the design talent on show.
Here he shares his views on Asia's men's fashion industry, and the difference between wearable and weird.
CNNGo: What’s your take on Men’s Fashion Week? It’s the first in Asia and only the third in the world, after Paris and Milan.
Utt: I think the whole point of MFW is to introduce fashion labels that you didn’t know existed.
Men’s fashion is in the fast lane now and because that’s happening it’s timely to promote fashion brands into the Asian market as well as introduce Asian designers to the international market.
CNNGo: There will be 30 brands at MFW, from emerging Asian brands to international brands. Who is your personal favourite?
Utt: I introduced some brands to MFW, and one that I am proud of is Bote.
He’s a very low-key Thai designer, with a small boutique in a hotel in Thailand, not at all an average designer you find at your mainstream mall. He dresses me when I go back to Thailand.
The MFW committee were really impressed by his styling, his clothes, the cutting; so he will be showcasing and I’m really excited about that.
CNNGo: Is Bote one of the designers you will be modeling for?
Utt: Yes. I will be doing four runway shows at MFW: Singapore-British designer Kim Choong-Wilkins, Singapore label Aztu, Bote and the closing show, which is a wrap of all the different designers.
It was important for me to represent a Singapore designer and a Thai designer. But I’m a bit nervous! I haven’t walked in catwalk in ten years and all the models are so tall!
CNNGo: Asian designers feature heavily in the line up for MFW, there will be DressCamp (Japan), Songzio (Korea), Jerome Lorico (Philippines), Elohim (Singapore) and S2VS (Indonesian, US-based), to name a few ... How do you think Asian designers stand up to the international labels?
Utt: Because there are more Asian designers than international designers at MFW, I think there will be no pressure on the Asian labels.
What’ll be interesting is to see the different Asian designers side-by-side. That’s what I’m looking forward to, seeing the Korean designers versus the Thai designers versus the Filipino designers, to see what flavors and inspirations there are.
We’re offering a platform for the public to witness these different designers and appreciate fashion.
CNNGo: So are the clothes showing at Men's Fashion Week wearable or showpiece types?
Utt: I think there will be a mix of showpieces and wearable clothes, both of which have their purpose.
For example in my line of work every now then I need to pick pieces that are more out there, more adventurous, to make it interesting.
But going back to regular outfits, what's most important at the end of the day are for designers to create clothes that are wearable.
CNNGo: Aside from modeling and hosting you'll also be running the Rock It With Utt Party on April 1, give us a sneak peek of the night.
Utt: There will be a whole bunch of different acts appearing at the Rock It with Utt Party.
One is a Malaysian duo DJs Lapsap, who are very club oriented and fun -- think retro, house and techno. They’re personal friends too, and they really get the crowd going.
We also have local actor-turned-singer Nat Ho, Singapore Mandarin singer Kiat Ho, and a Thai-Taiwanese artist Bie. There’s also local pop-indie-rock outfit West Grand Boulevard, who are known for their style and who will be dressed in some of the local designers.
CNNGo: To the conventional eye, the clothes for MFW are a little odd, is this your own personal style?
Utt: I’m quite eclectic. What I wear depends on what I’m doing. For MTV it’s quite freestyle, I can be in sports wear or T-shirts; whereas for big events I can be funkier but still need to be dressy. I can be a little adventurous.
CNNGo: What about when you’re not working and hanging out with friends?
Utt: I’m in T-shirts and cargo shorts!
I actually am very lazy and hate going through my closet, so if you hang out with me you’ll see me in the same selection of clothes again and again.
My clothes go in the washer and when they come out of the drier and go back into my closet, I’ll just put them on again.
CNNGo: That’s very low maintenance …
Utt: I was so low maintenance that when my stylist at MTV first started working with me 12-13 years ago, she used to take me aside and tell me to stop being so thrifty with fashion because I now had this public image and people wanted to see what I wore. So I became more conscious of what I wore when I went out.
CNNGo: But you’re naturally quite stylish. Which is not the case with a lot of men in Singapore ...
Utt: In the last few years the average Joe is starting to realize that they can up their style a notch, and not just with fashion but also how you take care of yourself, with vitamins, skincare and hair products. Everything has a men’s range now, even mainstream beauty brands.
On a scale of one to ten men’s fashion here might still be a two or three but it’s definitely moved up.
CNNGo: Truthfully, are Singaporean men ready for MFW?
Utt: Definitely. Singapore ranks up there in terms of being a westernized culture and being at the forefront of business alongside Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, so there’s no doubt about it.
CNNGo: One last question, how do I persuade your average guy to attend MFW?
Utt: There are going to be a lot of celebrities coming in, lots of ladies, lots of eye candy.
Men's Fashion Week 2011