A Conversation with: Taufiq Iskandar (Youths in Balaclava)

January 23, 2022

Youths In Balaclava is a young creative collective from Singapore focused on a grungy electropop streetwear that is part of the Dover Street Market hub of talents. In 2018, they were spotted at a book launch by Adrian Joffe, Comme des Garçons and DSM’s president, and subsequently teamed up to launch a capsule collection that continues today as a daring and resolutely youth-centric clothing brand. Taufiq Iskandar, the titular head of YIB, answers on behalf of the team.

Courtesy: Youths in Balaclava

Are you a dreamer?
Yes, I am a dreamer, I dream a lot to escape reality for a while. I dream of possibilities, ideas, scenarios.

How do you distinguish sleep dreams and life dreams?

It’s hard to distinguish most of the time; usually you’d be able to tell if there’s a glitch in what you dream in your sleep.

Had you dreamed of becoming a designer?
Yes of course. I dreamt of this when I was younger. I always thought about what it would be like being a full-time designer. 

Why do you think people dream of working in fashion?
Fashion has always seemed glamorous, mistakenly showing a luxurious lifestyle; so people dream of living that life, I suppose.

Do you try to interpret your sleeping dreams?
Yes I do try to interpret my dreams. To me, when I dream of something it’s because I am thinking a lot on the topic –whether I fear or love it. Sometimes this is an indicator to me.

Do you get creative ideas from your sleeping dreams?
Not really, but I get a lot of sleep paralysis where I start to see dark figures walking towards me or noises – imagine someone growling beside your ears!

Have you ever translated a dream into an actual design?
From that sleep paralysis, I sometimes paint those figures. That’s as far as it goes creatively.

When was the last time a dream came true for you?
Yes, it is called déjà vu, no? A lot of times, moments feel like they have happened – like you’ve dreamt of them before!.

To what extent do you think fashion is about proposing/selling dreams?
I guess it depends. As everything today has been done, there’s nothing new and original. In my opinion, fashion goes beyond just garments, so more brands must sell or propose a dream to have different representation in a highly competitive market. 

Do dreams help us make sense of reality or do they help us escape?

They give us the chance to escape temporarily, while giving us the time to re-access reality and make sense out of it.

Do you have a dream that remains unfulfilled?
Building a school for the less fortunate!

What is your wildest dream for the state of the world?
For everyone to have basic necessities like food, shelter and love

What is one dream you would like to achieve this coming year?

To move from Singapore and be based somewhere else! (Laughs)

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 

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