My Uniform: Somsack Sikhounmuong
Co-founder and design director, Alex Mill

My Uniform: Somsack Sikhounmuong <br> Co-founder and design director, Alex Mill

Every month we ask our friends how they found their personal style and to share the pieces that make up their daily “uniforms.”

Despite having a point of view that’s distinctly his own, it’s hard to not want to emulate our co-founder and design director Somsack’s easy-going approach to clothing. Tees, button-downs, relaxed pants and an armful of tattoos, there’s something inherently effortless (and personal) about his wardrobe. Which was why it was a bit of a surprise to hear that tuxedos made their way into rotation for school picture day way back when. We’ll let him explain (and scroll through his pics for photo evidence)...

My family and I immigrated to Canada from Thailand in 1980—it was a culture shock on so many levels. For starters, no one in my family owned a winter coat or socks [laughs]. Living in Canada, that was an issue. Our town, Oshawa, in Ontario was largely rooted in the automotive industry and was very blue collar—my parents ended up working on the assembly line for a car manufacturer. It was the ‘80s but my parents were rooted in the ‘70s in the way they dressed (lots of tees, button-down shirts and jeans). Like every other person who came of age in the ‘70s, they had mad style.

I remember having strong opinions about what I wore from a very young age. As far back as nursery school!

 

Flannel Button Down Shirt in Blue/Yellow
Flannel Button Down Shirt in Blue/Yellow
X Field Canvas Cap

I remember having strong opinions about what I wore from a very young age. As far back as nursery school! I remember looking at my class picture one morning, I hadn’t had much input in what I would wear prior, and I remember thinking “Nope! I’m taking control.” Every subsequent school picture after that point, well, I brought it. I may have showed up in a tux for one of them. [laughs]

If I see things that strike my interest, I’ll take a “mental polaroid,” and if I see things I don’t like, I’ll file it under “CAUTION!”

In 1995 I moved to New York City to attend Parsons for fashion design. I am a literal sponge on two legs, New York was a pleasant shock to the system, witnessing all the different personalities, cultures and sub-cultures, and that was happening on the design floor of the Parsons building alone. It was a good opportunity to put a stake in the ground and say “OK, I’m definitely a preppy/sporty/boho guy with casual tendencies—not at all goth.” And while some people may classify a few of my fashion moments as missteps, I refer to the old adage, “Never say ‘oops.’ Always say, ‘Ah, interesting.’” [laughs]

Nothing makes me happier than going out whether to a park bench, a restaurant or even a dance club and just people-watching.

A few years ago I walked into my local dry cleaner to drop something off and I saw a dress I had designed hanging in the back, ready to be picked up. As a designer, there’s no bigger compliment. It’s humbling and makes the hard work worth it every time, seeing that your voice resonates with someone. My style and my work is an amalgamation of so many people: Former bosses, colleagues, family, classmates. From my time working with Jenna Lyons at J.Crew I really developed an appreciation for navy; she’d always go for it before black. And the way she put herself together really made an impact: Never too much of one thing. Never too dressy, never too casual.

In terms of how I design, I’ve always been a wallflower of sorts, I just observe and watch. Nothing makes me happier than going out whether to a park bench, a restaurant or even a dance club and just people-watching. Each occasion is an opportunity to rethink things. If I see things that strike my interest, I’ll take a “mental polaroid,” and if I see things I don’t like, I’ll file it under “CAUTION!”

 

"3 THINGS" WITH SOMSACK
 
3 professions you'd pursue if not for your current career:
Architect, product designer, back-up singer
 
3 everyday items you couldn’t live without:
Pizza, my phone, metrocard
 
Your uniform in 3 pieces:
Tee, jeans, white sneakers


As told to AM February 4th, 2019
Photographed by Grant Legan



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