Ugyen Wangmo –– Giving emerging designers and artists their own voices

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Spring 2024

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Fashion can tell a story. New models and designers express this inner story through outer expressions of creativity. According to Ugyen Wangmo, fashion goes beyond merely festooning styles on creatives ––fashion is about self-expression and the freedom to express one’s self naturally and honestly. Wangmo is the editor for the magazine FORWARD Fashion, a magazine with the central focus of giving new artists a platform and their own authentic voice. 

When did your passion for fashion commence?

When I was growing up, fashion was my family’s livelihood. I grew up in an atmosphere where fashion was respected. As soon as I was able to conceive of the notion to express myself, at a young age, this was the beginning of my passion for fashion. My mom was a textile designer and was involved in fashion design. For me, fashion has always been about expressing myself. The joy of varying colors, patterns, textures, and styles. New styles fit into how life is interweaved – at least for me. Knowledge in fashion is passed down, not really original. However, if one can converge the old with the new, then one can create something (perhaps) unique. 

How was FORWARD Fashion created?

I am more of a fashion writer than a fashion designer. Once again, my mother was a big influence for fashion on me. The main objective for FORWARD Fashion is to provide a platform for up-and-coming designers and artists. Our magazine is focussed on conveying the featured artist’s authentic voice. Commercial sales within the magazine are not our goal – our goal is to centralize the artists importance from a fashion perspective. FORWARD Fashion is content based from front to back –– with no advertisements. Focus is on content. Fashion tells a story about a specific time. I curate the content so that it isn’t time-bound. It is like a collector’s piece when one peruses back issues. Fashion not only influences society, but society also influences and drives fashion. Its relevance is not fleeting. 

What is your philosophy on fashion?

Fashion is an outward projection of one’s personality. There is the idea that fashion is frivolous, but this is a common attitude (in select circles) towards art. We put on clothes every day, and the way we dress may at times be based on our mood. This differs with a fashion show. Still, an outward projection of one’s inner self remains. Try not to dress in a way that imitates. Dress how you desire – just be honest about what you want to wear. This would be a projection of your authentic self. Fashion is a reality. 

Can fashion be a global force for equality and sustainability? 

Yes. How one runs fashion as a business –– at the end of the day –– it is the core value of how industries build their brands that makes the difference. Equality comes from one’s personal values which recognizes societal values without imposing ethnocentric views. The clothes often express and tell a story. In addition, fashion is partly about losing yourself in a dream world. This is not to suggest that fashion is to be sought out in this sense, daily, no. However, it is nice to allow oneself to feel good. We create a lot of waste materials in the industry (scrap materials, raw materials, wasted water for production). I try to work with more eco-conscious brands. We need to be mindful of our values and morals in fashion –– beyond the dream world of fashion. 

You have themes of A.I. in the magazine –– can you explain?

With the recent advent of A.I. tools, I have created a new brand (UWANGMO). I do not mix the human content with the A.I. content. FORWARD Fashion is the main brand which focusses on human creativity. To be clear, A.I. will not replace human creativity. However, A.I. will accelerate how imagination is expressed. It will provide new platforms, and bring creation to a new level. A.I. will assist us to excel in what human’s do best –– create. 

As editor-in-chief, what is your vision for the magazine?

My core vision is to connect new talent to a wider audience. This is always central. As much as I love print editions, and in the spirit of sustainability, I push for digital content. At the end of the day, it is important for me to value the earth. I need to feel like I am contributing to a sustainable society. Continuing to maintain the authentic voices of the creators will remain central to FORWARD Fashion without the interruption of commercial influence. In the near future, my brand will extend to podcast and video content. 

Jason Waddle | Contributing Writer

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