Those who have seen the movie The Devil Wears Prada might be under the impression that a fashion magazine editor's office looks cold and steely like the devilishly cynical Miranda Priestly's. But the first step into the office of Panu "Bobby" Sombatyanuchit, Elle Thailand's latest editor-in-chief, reveals an entirely different vibe.
Designer shopping bags, make-up and skincare products and fashion books are scattered around the room as if at random, not in a cluttered way, but somehow in a way that seemed to accentuate his personality _ casual, friendly, simple, real.
Panu took the position of Elle Thailand's editor-in-chief at the beginning of the year, bringing with him years of experience in the magazine industry. Having worked for 15 years as beauty editor at a leading fashion magazine, and five years as a beauty and trends editor, Panu is an established name in the world of fashion and publications.
And yet, he was quite hesitant when the opportunity came knocking.
"I was approached while Elle was going through its recent changes, and it took me a while to answer whether it was the right move for me," he said. "Not that I had any doubt in Elle _ I just wanted to make sure that I completely understood what Elle was. I didn't want to jump into it and turn Elle into something it is not."
Before making the big decision, he did a lot of research, reading stacks of both Thai and international editions of the magazine to discover the publication's essence.
"Having read so many issues of Elle, I found that Elle is very tangible and fun," said Panu. "It is feminine, sexy and casual. It allows the readers to mix and match at their own convenience. Elle is not about what brand you are wearing, it is how you wear it. Elle doesn't tell you what to wear, ever. That's what I like about it. I like the freedom and the approachability of Elle, which makes it fun."
Panu, however, has some additional ideas up his casually rolled-up sleeve. While Elle _ which is published by Post International Media Co ltd _ is already fun and distinctive, he feels it can benefit from being more active and interactive, allowing readers to feel involved rather than dictated to.
"Under my editorship, I want it to be more active. There will be changes to focus more on the fun side of Elle. It's not just fashion _ it's about style. Style is a big word for Elle. I don't believe fashion alone can make clothes fun. Style means you get the inspiration from fashion and develop the look that reflects who you are. It's very individual. That's what we believe in."
The first platform to demonstrate Elle's new chapter is the first-ever autumn/winter show for Elle Fashion Week, which will take place from tomorrow until Saturday. This year, the event is expanding from its usual White Tent in front of CentralWorld and being held in three landmark spots in Bangkok _ Lumpini Park, W Bangkok Hotel and Scala Theatre.
While the venues might not seem especially related to fashion, the underlying message from Elle is the concept that "Bangkok is your runway". The idea is for Bangkok urbanites to have fun with fashion wherever they go. Pretty outfits do not have to wait for special occasions.
"Lumpini Hall at Lumpini Park is actually a magnificent place. I am not sure whether this is the first fashion show to be held there, but I am sure it will be amazing. The environment is spectacular."
The event showcases 10 of Thailand's most loved local brands _ Greyhound, Something Boudoir, Issue, Asava, Senada, Curated by Ek Thongprasert, Kloset, Tu'i, Munchu's and Vickteerut. They all have to work extra hard this year with the two events.
"We didn't have that much lead time to prepare, but everyone involved is trying their best, especially the designers," Panu revealed.
"In the past we only had one show a year, but now there are two, so they have to double their efforts."
Another upcoming campaign from Elle Thailand is the Fashion Film Festival, which will take place in August. The idea, according to Panu, is to raise awareness of fashion actually being all around us.
"The Fashion Film Festival in August is aimed at making fashion accessible via different channels, not just magazines or runways. Film and fashion are actually close-knit, and I want fashion lovers to open up to a new aspect of it. Fashion should be something ordinary, something you see and feel in daily life. It is not something pretentious."
The event will feature films with content about fashion as well as short films by renowned directors which will be specially-made for the event to celebrate the joy of fashion.
Looking back, Panu said fashion in Thailand has come a long way forward, and with the availability of clothing items and the spike in social media activities, fashion has become an incredibly fun realm.
"I grew up in a time when fashion was reserved for a small group of people. Even looking for a decent plain white shirt was not easy at the time. A good shirt, 20 years back, would cost about 2,000 baht, which was quite expensive. Today, clothes are more affordable and the quality is good. Consequently, people are more inclined to dress up because it doesn't cost much and it's fun.
"Fashion has become widespread and people are no longer afraid to have a unique style. That's why I say Bangkok is ready to be your runway."
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Outlook Writer