The long-awaited arrival of Vogue Thailand looks set to change the face of the local fashion industry. BK talks to the first editor-in-chief of the Thai edition (and former fashion editor-in-chief of Elle Thailand), Kullawit “Ford“ Laosuksri, 45, about his initiation into the prestigious club and the challenges that lie ahead.

I was an unwitting follower of fashion. I loved it before I even knew what it was. I always kept an eye on my elementary school teacher’s fashion sense and would sketch details down in my textbooks.

I studied fashion design at the University of North Texas and discovered a real passion for fashion history. After I graduated, I came back to work in Bangkok as a junior designer for a small brand before becoming a freelancer for the Thai edition of Elle Magazine.

1997 saw a big change in the fashion industry. All the big names like Gucci, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton altered their marketing strategies, giving chances to new designers, installing head offices in the Far East and pouring money into advertising. I was lucky that this was when I started up as fashion editor at Elle Thailand.

You never know what your passion is until you start doing it. I’m lucky to have found what I love to do. I still get excited every day when I drive to work.

Fashion is not entertainment; it’s a business. People always ask me if I had fun at international fashion weeks, and I tell them there’s a whole lot of not-so-fun work to do to get a show up on the catwalk for only 10 minutes.

Working in fashion is like getting dressed up. It doesn’t need to be as stressful as some people make it.

My life is quite surreal with all the exclusive treats and luxuries I receive as a fashion magazine editor. So it’s really important that you surround yourself with the right people so as to not forget who you are and abuse your power and everyone around you.

Hanging out with those you love helps keep you grounded. I love to balance my fancy work life by spending time with my family. There are no exaggerations when I am with them. At the end of the day, even the editor of the Vogue’s US edition, Anna Wintour, is a mother to her daughters.

Vogue’s arrival is an indicator that the Thai market is ready to expand. People are spending more money on luxury brands. Vogue Thailand will change the local fashion scene immensely over the next six months.

Becoming Vogue editor is my biggest challenge yet. I’ve always said that you learn something new every day and this confirms it. Just because I have worked for Elle Thailand for 15 years doesn’t mean I know how this job is going to turn out. We’re starting from scratch so I’ve already met with the editors who took Vogue to Britain and Spain.

Each edition of Vogue must reflect its country’s culture. I love that the Vogue team doesn’t have a template for us to follow. We can create what we want so long as it matches Vogue’s standards. It’s up to us to portray Thai sensibilities in such a way that people know they’re reading Vogue Thailand.

I want to celebrate Thai talents; not only designers, but anything related to fashion, from photographers, models and make-up artists to Thai craftspeople. I want Vogue to be a platform for them to shine.

A top fashion magazine doesn’t need to be avant-garde. My ideal magazine is easily accessible and has the power to inspire every girl on the street to express their own sense of fashion.

I’m one of the biggest fans of HM Queen Sirikit. I can recall accurately what she wore at any number of ceremonies. I achieved one of my great goals by being a part of the creation of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. I’m enchanted by Thai textiles and hope to keep developing them for the Thai fashion scene.

Thai fashion labels are being run by rich kids who oversee both the design and business aspects. That means there’s no real focus on designing clothes, unlike in global fashion cities where investors pour money into allowing designers to get creative.

I consider it my next duty to encourage investors to see the good opportunities in Thai fashion and to help expand it.

I pride myself on moderation. I never believe or like anything too much, until I’ve looked at it from another perspective. It pays to have an open mind. Reading and traveling will polish your thoughts.

Deadlines are the scariest thing in my line of work, much harder than dealing with people or keeping on top of trends.

Acknowledge your mistakes and move on. Don’t look back and don’t let it happen again. My big errors of judgment include choosing covers that didn’t sell.

Everyone has trial-and-error moments in fashion, myself included.
I have no noble philosophy. I just live with the truth. Even if one day I don’t have everything I have now, I’ll have no regrets.

Other Vogue editors have told me to live my life to the fullest now, because my social life will all but disappear once the magazine’s first issue is released.

Be prepared for everything that life might throw at you. You can never know how bad things are going to be.