Gia-Tinh, introduce us to UNCO
UNCO is a headwear label I founded out of love and the need for functional independence. I noticed that these items could be so much more than just an accessory because they are so unique and self-enhancing. It kind of has lost its power throughout the years. The goal is to bring back value to these special items by focusing on creating functional rain proof headwear.
How was UNCO first conceived?
It started off as a personal project that I couldn’t finish at that time due to some difficulties. I was really in need of some time for myself, so I decided to leave the country for a while. I went with no plan and traveled through Asia for 4 months, of which I dedicated 1,5 months to my home country Vietnam. I came across many different kinds of hats, which were all used for functional purposes only. They turn anything into something useful really. You would walk around and see all kinds of random constructions they’ve built from everyday objects. It doesn’t matter, as long as it's functional. It’s a habit that I also see in my mom. She has furnished the whole house with a practical purpose in mind. Anything that she uses, she uses up its fullest functional capacity, just so that she will not need help from anyone else. This practical view on life and the need for independence inspires me a lot and has shaped the core of UNCO.
What makes your items unique?
Everything is upcycled. All materials are sourced carefully by hand and are crafted in a small local atelier. I just work with what I have. All this time has been put into all details in order to maintain an affordable approach. The brand is there for the people, so It’s important to be accessible.
What do you do, next to working on your brand?
I am in my final year now of my study Int. Fashion & Branding and I am modeling part-time.
You’re an independent entrepreneur, are you planning to stay indie forever?
Well, I hope to run into someone cool along my way who could be my partner.
How did you discover your vocation for fashion?
I don’t think it’s necessarily fashion that is my vocation. I see it rather as a tool to express the many thoughts I have in my mind and fashion just happened to be it.
What was the biggest step you've taken for UNCO so far?
Starting this actually. Like many other people, I find it really hard to actually 'do something’ and continue doing it. I am so happy that I’m surrounded with the best people, who were all so supportive. Without them, I would probably quit somewhere in October and be somewhere in Asia right now.
Who are your biggest influences; in life, your craft and music?
My parents’ are my biggest influencers in life and my craft for sure. Without them, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today. The brand is carrying its values with it. I always go through the attic every once in a while to see what new inspiration or funny stuff I will find in their house. I remember going through their old photo albums last year, feeling amazed by its authenticity. You don’t run into many authentic beings anymore nowadays. That’s why young artists like Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, Dev Hynes and (((O))) inspire me. The last person especially astonished me. Everyone should check her out if you can find her.
How do you want your consumers to feel when wearing UNCO?
I want them to feel at their best. It’s the reason why there is barely any visible branding in the product itself. I want them to wear it for themselves, not the other way around.
What is your dream project?
There will be a time where I will be living in Vietnam for a few years to work on something I can’t put in words but feel like is needed.
What is your favorite part about creating?
My favorite part about creating is to empty my mind and connect all thoughts, processes and emotions I had at a certain time. Being able to translate them into something I can look back at is exciting. Like, In a few years, I will be going through my stuff and find these hats thinking hey, I did that! It will be feeling like listening to an old song, but then you’re holding an actual physical thing.
What are your plans for the future?
The aim is to improve the functional approach in order to provide sustainable ‘weatherproof’ solutions without using any newly produced material at all. From concept to design, anything.
Visit the UNCO website