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How Melbourne-based label Enso Studio is working towards a genderless fashion future

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Diego Campomar FOR ENSO STUDIO

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Enso Studio evokes power, dynamism and drama.”

Nobody likes being told something is off-limits. As we get older, we stop throwing tantrums (for the most part) but the sentiment remains the same – we want what we can’t have. Chronically overstimulated and easily bored, the new generation is beginning to ask the all-important question: ‘Why can’t we?’.

It was my younger sister’s friend who first posed the question. “Why can’t I shop in the boy’s section?”. As I opened my mouth to reply, I realised I didn’t have an answer. When had this seemingly archaic rule come into play, and why were we still following it?


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Pursuing her first fashion diploma in 2018, Malaysian-Australian designer Jasmine Sim asked herself the same question. Realising the industry-wide gap in genderless, consciously-made clothing, Jasmine launched her gender-neutral label Enso Studio in 2021. The collection is “sculpted to complement all body shapes and sizes”, comprised of subversive basics in shades of grey, black, charcoal and light blue.

Wrapping up its debut pop-up store, Enso Studio’s first collection has already sold through the first round of pre-orders. Looking forward, Jasmine hopes for Enso Studio to be a pioneer in the future of genderfluid fashion.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background?

 

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[My name is] Jasmine Sim. I was born in Penang Island, Malaysia in 1995 and raised in Melbourne, Australia. My parents wanted me to be an accountant, so I didn’t undertake any art-related studies growing up. After graduating with my accounting and finance degree, I decided to travel around the world and get in touch with my art.

I was so out of touch with mainstream art… I was able to explore it through experience while travelling. In 2018, I managed to get a diploma from the Melbourne Fashion Institute and travelled halfway around the world to LA. I then dropped out of my Bachelor of Fashion Design at Box Hill Institute in 2021. The institute was attempting to mould me into a conventional fashion designer while denying me the opportunity to express myself through fashion.

How did the label get started? Talk to us about the process and the challenges.

I found Enso Studio in November 2019. After a horrible break-up, making art was the only way I could feel sane; where I could just be myself without being judged. I started posting some of my experimental pieces online, which I made in my dad’s garage during the lockdown. By the end of that year, I had found Enso Studio’s aesthetic. I started creating the first collection, which was finished by February 2021.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

 

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At first, all I wanted was just to express my vision to the world and connect with like-minded people. But I realise now that Enso Studios is also a platform for me and people like me. It’s important for us to express and voice our opinions. Through Enso, I want to break boundaries and create a more genderless, inclusive future.

How would you describe Enso Studio to someone who’s never seen it before?

Simple, gender-neutral wear contrasted by complex shapes; shown through experimental construction and tailoring. Enso Studio evokes power, dynamism and drama. These garments are engineered to worship the flesh, sculpted to compliment all body shapes and sizes. Collections are designed with movement, functionality and versatility in mind.

Where did the name come from?

 

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Most of my childhood was spent in Japan, so I’ve been exposed to Japanese art, life philosophy and culture; those values are rooted in me. Ensō (円相) came from the Japanese word meaning ‘circle’. The enso, a popular symbol in Zen Buddhism and Japanese calligraphy, is made with a single brushstroke that creates an unclosed circle. In Zen Buddhism, it represents a time when the mind is free to just let the body and spirit create.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

The fact that I’m able to fuse my finance knowledge with my fashion craft. Utilising both of those skillsets for the brand actually impressed me. Also, being myself without being judged – both creatively and mentally when I’m designing. Experimenting and taking my patternmaking skills to the next level is what I’m most proud of.

Who do you think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now?

 

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Strateas Carlucci. After seeing the Melbourne Fashion Festival runway, I was blown away. By far the most exciting Australian fashion brand right now.

What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

I feel this generation of young designers and creatives is already paving the way for the Australian fashion industry. We’re not quite there yet; we can still see a lot of tokenism in brands, big and small. We will decolonise these Eurocentric standards, and work towards more genuine inclusive representation. Enso Studio is all about breaking the norms and building a genderless future.

How can we buy one of your pieces?

 

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Pre-orders are closed, but there are some items available for purchase on my website. We’ll also be having more pop-up stores in the near future.

Browse the Enso Studio collection in its entirety here.

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