The word fashion conjures up images of the four major fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Last year, Taipei launched its own exclusive fashion event, the Taipei Fashion Week. The second edition took place this year with the theme “Next Gen, Next Stop Taipei.” During the 24-day event, the word fashion could be heard across the length and breadth of Taipei, a sign of the massive amounts of free-flowing design energy in Taiwan.
Eight Taiwanese designer brands were on show at the emerging designers fashion show. The designers came together to express themselves through their clothes on the runway. What’s in their heads? Where do they find support? Here’s a glimpse into the new waves being made in the design universe.
“For me, clothing is a medium to convey how I see the world.”
Graduating just last year, Allen Ko is also a high-profile emerging designer. He didn’t win prizes at school, he laughs, and he never expected to win the Taipei Good Fashion Gold Award, so now he’s seizing the opportunity to establish his Allen Ko brand. The 2019 Fashion Week has brought the rookie wider attention, with a magazine from as far away as Russia contacting him through social media to express their love for his designs. It’s something that has made him understand that fashion is in essence unbounded by language or country. If you have a stage, you can convey your ideas.
“I want to convey positive energy with my brand and use my designs to make people happy”
Ever-smiling Sabrina Hsieh established her brand two and a half years ago. These colorful and bright prints are what make her happy, and she uses the clothes she designs to pass on happy thoughts to other people. Hsieh was very moved once when a fan approached her and thanked her just for existing, and this kind of encouragement and affirmation have helped her to move forward. Hsieh believes that the Fashion Weeks of the last two years have greatly benefited the Taiwanese fashion industry. This year has seen a lot of innovation, and the Department of Cultural Affairs has given its full support and a subsidy, which puts designers very much at ease and gives them room to believe that Taiwan’s fashion industry will keep making progress in the future.
“I want to show people that buying custom-made clothes is not an unattainable dream, that even regular people can enjoy custom tailoring at affordable prices.”
Bob Jian has specialized in custom-made clothes ever since he launched his business. Jian wants to break down the popular stereotype of custom tailoring as something reserved for those at the pinnacle of fashion. Jian tailors clothing in styles that best suit his customers so that people can see the structural design of hand-made clothes and understand that in fact such clothing can be as accessible as mainstream fashion. The attendees at this year’s Fashion Week are all wearing designer brand clothing, which has greatly increased the exposure of Taiwanese designers, and for Jian this confirms how meticulously the Department of Cultural Affairs has planned the event. Jian hopes there will be more such events in the future so that Taiwanese designers can continue to strut their stuff.
“Clothes can reveal a woman’s primeval wildness, which is about intuition, creativity, and passion.”
For Jenn Lee, creative director of her eponymous brand, clothes can convey a sense of “woman power,” and women can use clothes to reclaim their power through self-confidence and love. Speaking at this year’s Fashion Week, Lee described her mood as one of “infatuation” and sang the praises of fashion in Taiwan as becoming something of a popular movement. Lee said that the event, organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs, used a straightforward and down-to-earth approach to show people what professional fashion design is all about, and to bring designers into contact with people from various demographics. Lee said she is happy to see that Taiwan has started to value the fashion industry and hopes that Taipei will become another fashion capital.
When asked what qualities are needed to break into the fashion industry, almost without exception the designers said that you have to be clear about where you are and where you’re going, so that your passion isn’t obliterated on contact with reality. If you know your own style, you can concentrate all your attention and effort on making it happen. It’s not only designers that are needed by the glamorous fashion industry, but also pattern makers and sample makers, as well as marketing and public relations consultants and other highly skilled people who all work together to build brands. So the designers’ advice for budding newbies is to build contacts with people across a wide range of related professions.
The 2019 Taipei Fashion Week has come to a perfect conclusion. The many exciting events have allowed people who don’t generally come into contact with the fashion industry to personally experience a feast of fashion from a diverse range of talents from many industries. The energy brought to the catwalk by these emerging designers is still electrifying the city. Taipei’s fashion resurgence is firmly in the hands of these young people.
WDC Taipei 2016