At the height of Covid-19 two years ago, when many of us were struggling with the uncertainties of the future, Lina Osman was hard at work turning her dream into reality. The 26-year-old apparel design and merchandising graduate from Temasek Polytechnic launched her eponymous fashion label Linaoth, comprising tailored formal wear.
It was a bold move when most in Singapore started working from home, and the everchanging Covid-19 restrictions caused life to come to a standstill.
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“I started Linaoth because I felt that what I wanted to offer – sleek styles with a bit of whimsical elements – wasn’t available locally,” she says. “I was waiting for the right time, when I realised that there is no right time,” she shares.
Her plan was to design ready-to-wear pieces that will be launched monthly. However, it was an uphill task for Lina, who was working around the clock to get the business up and running herself.
“I planned to work with a group of tailors in Indonesia, but Covid-19 made it difficult to travel,” she says. As a result, Lina began taking custom orders under Linaoth Custom, where she occasionally worked with the help of local tailors, offering one-of-akind designs for brides-to-be.
Fast forward to today, and Linaoth has expanded to include two other collections – Demi-Custom and LO By Linaoth. The former allows customers to choose from her ready-made collection and tweak the pieces according to their sizes, while the latter is a ready-to- wear diffusion line that captures the brand’s essence, which Lina describes as “artistic and romantic wear”.
Here, she shares her thoughts on fashion and her plans for taking her brand forward.
What does fashion mean to you?
“Fashion has always been a form of self-expression. I’ve known since I was 12 that I wanted to do something creative professionally. My first dream was actually to be an artist, because I’ve always loved translating ideas into a form. Later, I realised I could do the same with fashion. I am a fashion designer, but most times, I see myself as an artist who uses fashion as a medium for storytelling.”
Growing up, who were your fashion influences?
“My mum has always encouraged me to pick my own outfits, even as a child. She dreamt of becoming a tailor but never had the chance. I think that’s why she’s supportive of my career and interests; maybe because she sees her old self in me.”
What inspires you?
“I often draw inspiration from personal stories. I think I am a highly sensitive person who feels too much about things – both positive and negative. I used to think it was a flaw, but it has allowed me to see things differently.
Finding inspiration for a collection feels like journaling to me. I always revisit an old memory to tell a story, or add a hidden message in my collections.”
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What do you wish to convey through your designs?
“I hope that [my pieces] would spark conversations. There have been people who tell me that my designs make them happy. Others have also reached out to say that the garments are very comfortable.”
Oversized silhouettes seem to be quite common in your collections. why is that?
“The focus has always been to create a style that exists between artistic musings and wearable romantic looks. My work features innovative silhouettes and unique pairings. I like to combine two opposite characteristics to achieve balance. Sometimes, this involves adding whimsical voluminous sleeves to a classic tailored base coat. Other times, it’s balancing softness with structure.”
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Share with us some memorable moments of your career.
“I’d say that one of my most memorable moments was creating a wedding look for Singapore-based visual artist Sam Lo aka Sticker Lady. We connected through a mutual friend, so it was my first time talking to him, but I immediately understood the design direction he was heading towards.
We went for an unconventional wedding look – something I’ve always wanted to work on! It was inspired by the classic black tie ensemble with a hint of tradition. The wedding look consisted of four separate pieces: a white tailored shirt, a semi-matte blazer with contrasting piping and lace underneath the shawl collar, a pair of culottes, and a detachable half kilt with leather straps.”
What’s next for Linaoth?
“We are launching more ready-to-wear collections (LO By Linaoth) over the next couple of months. The theme is related to dreams. Customers can expect a mix and match of oversized and feminine silhouettes, almost weirdly shaped connecting seams and more!