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Shopping Southeast Asia with Lauren Yates

Slow-fashion advocate Lauren Yates, found of the lifestyle blog Ponytail Journal and the W'menswear fashion label, takes us shopping around the region. By VERONICA INVEEN.

Published on Mar 28, 2017


LAUREN YATES IS ONE of Southeast Asia's freshest bon vivants, curating her loves of fashion, food and travel in her playful blog Ponytail Journal. The Hong Kong–born, Australiaand Thailand-raised fashionista brings her global tastes to the four-year-old website, with posts that range from a roundup of stores in Hong Kong to a video tutorial on how to make Burmese chicken, all with a feel-good edge that reflects her slogan, "funnest life possible."

Lauren Yates
Blogger and designer Lauren Yates. Courtesy of Lauren Yates.

Yates's editorial fashion focus, which she calls "W'menswear"—accidently sexy, smart-casual—started to accumulate a fan base, now climbing past 36,000 followers on Instagram. Buoyed by the audience and connections in the industry, in February 2016, she launched her clothing brand of the same name. Her travels, whether collecting vintage Vietcong infantry garments in Vietnam or shophopping in Tokyo, all find their way to her W'menswear collections, in a process she calls "slow fashion." Each piece of clothing is the product of meticulous research; even her basic tees are made from Toki-sen fabric, sourced from the best mill in the world for knits, in Osaka.

Button-ups by W'menswear. Courtesy of Lauren Yates.

By paying special attention to the provenance of ingredients, whether pertaining to food or clothing, Yates has established her own voice in a world of fast food and fast fashion. Here she talks go-to spots to shop in the region.


+ Yates frequents Paya in Ekkamai for their range of Thai textiles, antique homewares and handcrafted goods. + For bold-print dresses she heads to Soda. "I love the creativity and spirit that drives the Soda brand. They are always using fun fabrics and they do a very feminine flavor of tailored suits and exotic pieces in the perfect proportion for me."

Paya Shop
Textiles and crafts from Paya. Courtesy of Paya Shop.


+ Yates has been working with a natural indigo studio up in Chiang Mai called Slowstitch Studio that retails scarves, wall pieces and pillow cases. The studio is run by two textile artists who studied indigo methodology in Japan. "They brought their in-depth knowledge back to Thailand to work on establishing their own sustainable dyeing and weaving studio. They're developing purely fermented vats of indigo—no lime, and the richest deep indigo hue you've seen!"

Slowstich Studio
Handcrafted, individually dyed pillows from Slowstitch Studio. Courtesy of Slowstitch Studio.


+ "The Armoury takes such care in their curatorial process and the stories behind their wares. It's a space run by true gentlemen who are really excited about the experience that is their world."

The Armoury
The Armoury boutique in Hong Kong. Courtesy of the Armoury.


+ In Saigon, you can find her rummaging through antiques on Le Cong Kieu street in District 1. "You can find some really beautiful ceramic pieces. I've picked up a couple of mint cameras with very reasonable price tags after a good bargain."

Le Cong Kieu
Antiques at Le Cong Kieu Street in Saigon. Marisa Vega/GettyImages.


The Spring/Summer 2018 collection, debuting in July and retailing February of next year, will introduce a new line of basics like jeans, tees and sweatshirts for yearround appeal. "I think more and more of us are hunting down wardrobe staples that are made well," Yates says, "so we are using beautiful slow-made Japanese chambrays, knits and denim." W'menswear (pieces from US$160) can be found in boutiques around Asia, including Onion in Bangkok, Syndro in Taipei, and Nigel Cabourn Women the Army Gym Tokyu Plaza Ginza Store in Tokyo.



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Lauren's studio. Courtesy of Lauren Yates.
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