Sunday, October 11, 2015

From tailor-made to custom made : A Designer’s Journey

From assisting her mother in her tailoring business as a little girl to designing the finale gown for Miss Myanmar at the International pageants… Be it her celebrity customers, knockout fashion shows or creative fair, Latt Latt has indeed emerged as the most sought after designers in the country today

By Aswathy Kumar

Latt Latt
Latt Latt with her models

I still remember the first time I walked into the Lady Latt shop, a small store nestled in the corner of where Kabaya Pagoda Road meets Parami Road. I was quite new to Yangon but had already fallen head over heels in love with the traditional longyi, a straight fit sarong style wrap-around skirt teamed with a matching fitted blouse. I had seen the local women wear it with such finesse that I thought it was high time I owned my very own pair. 

Latt Latt with Miss Myanmar World 2015 Khin Yadanar Thein Myint
The shop was rather modest, just like any other tailor shops in the city. Though small, beautiful silk fabrics in  every possible color adorned the glass cases and mannequins displaying some exquisite evening gowns embellished with handcrafted jewels and intricately woven embroidery surrounded me. I announced that I wanted to get a custom-made longyi. I wanted it to be simple yet unique, traditional yet edgy. As I stood there nervously wondering if the lady in front of me understood what I had in mind, she smiled, took out her notepad and drew one of the most exquisite dress designs I had ever witnessed. Little did I know then that the unassuming yet charming lady in front of me was one of the top designers in Myanmar today, renowned for her international shows, trendy haute couture and innumerable celebrity clients including the award winning singer, actor Htun Aeindra Bo, actor Thet Mon Myint, May Than Nu, Miss Myanmar Universe 2016 Htet Htet Htun and Miss Myanmar World 2015 Khin Yadanar Thein Myint. 
Miss Myanmar Universe 2015, May Barani Thaw in Latt Latt creation

“It all started with my mother,” says Latt Latt, sitting behind her office desk, casually clad in a pair of white trouser and lacy top. “I would come back from school and go straight to her shop and watch her for hours.” Despite having a science background, a Bachelor’s degree in Botany to be exact and the absence of any design schools in the country, Latt Latt knew that she always wanted to be a designer. “For us there was no option of going to any design school or getting a degree in the field. Whatever I learnt, I did from my mother. She taught me how to sew and very soon, I started making my own sketches and realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Talking about her biggest support system she says, nothing would have been possible if it weren't for her family. “When I told my mother, this is what I wanted to do, she simply told me to follow my heart. My sisters and I had the full freedom to pursue any career of our choice.” And that’s exactly how Latt Latt wants to be with her two daughters, aged 16 and 5. “Though secretly I would love them to be designers too,” she laughs.  And her biggest fan? “My younger sister Nge Nge is my biggest fan and also my toughest client. Probably the most fashion conscious in our family, she refuses to repeat even a single outfit,” she smiles.

The longyi is constantly evolving,
but it is here to stay
- Latt Latt
Latt latt’s designs can be possibly termed as the perfect synthesis of conventional and contemporary. Talking about the changing fashion trends in the country she says, “The traditional longyi is constantly evolving. Clients always want something different yet comfortable. For the skirts, the customary wrap-style ones are long gone. Zippers have replaced hooks and as far as the tops are concerned they are getting trendier by the day.” At a recent fashion show, Latt Latt incorporated Jade and copper wire into her designs. Though she loves making contemporary outfits, she says the traditional longyi will always have a special place in her designs. 

But does she worry that with the changing market and the entry of big international retail giants into the country, there would be a drastic change in the shopping patterns of her clients? Will the concept of making custom-made outfits that has constantly been the trend in Myanmar slowly start to disappear? “Absolutely not,” says Latt Latt. “No western outfit can ever replace our national dress. Even my daughters who prefer wearing jeans and dresses have to wear the longyi for every special occasion. And fortunately a good longyi has to be a custom-made.”

The journey from a tailor to a full fledged designer has been incredible and to a certain extent unexpected for Latt Latt. With already two shops, several national and international shows including Miss People fashion show, Nikko Bridal Show, SEA Games, ASEAN Fashion show and Miss Myanmar World under her belt, she says that there are no plans to leave her hometown in Yangon to expand her business. “Yes the fashion industry may be much bigger and more established in other parts of the world, but my heart will always be here in Myanmar. This is my home and this is where I always want to be.”

Latt Latt's latest design incorporating copper and jade elements


  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Myanmar? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Myanmar in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia, 39
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez

  2. Hi Emilio... Think it's a great idea. I am traveling this month but once I am back will mail u a postcard from Yangon. Best Ash