Amongst the fashion set in Taiwan, Apujan is a name to reckon with. The designer began his creative journey with a bachelor’s degree in clothing and textile at the Fu Jen Catholic University before moving to London to learn about knitwear for women from the Royal College of Art. Apu is confident about his design prowess, and rightly so; the designer has made a name for himself by dressing the who’s who of South East Asia and designing the uniform for Eva Airline. Below, he speaks to me about fashion, good design and his plans for the future.
Hi Apu, we are so excited to be interviewing you today! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a fashion designer born and raised in Taiwan, living in London and running a designer label. My mother is a writer and collector of books. I have enjoyed reading, visiting museums, libraries, going to movies and exhibitions since I was a child. I have built up the interests in the process of time as well as the world within virtual and reality. After learning about textile and clothing I found a way to tell stories via clothes.
Where did you study fashion? Were you always inclined towards the creative arts?
I got my bachelor’s degree of clothes and textile in Taiwan, Fu Jen Catholic University. Afterwards, I went to the Royal College of Art in London to learn about women’s knitwear. I love designing from the yarn, creating my own fabric and composing my knitting combination.
How did you get introduced to the world of knits and how did that inform your design process that includes other materials?
On top of learning various types of textile from manual, semi-automatic to automatic techniques from BA, I have also taken internships in many different knitting factories. During my time there, I learnt additional skills related to textile and the methods of operating the knitting machines. Besides that, I also read many books, and I found that despite the techniques having progressed, the principle has always remained the same for hundreds of years: applying the matching logic to create permutations of knitting. I have used wool as the main material of all my designs.
Where do you draw your inspirations from? We see that a lot of your work seems to have an influence of a fantasy world of sorts. Is that something you identify with personally?
[I draw my inspirations] mainly from reading a large variety of books.
We hear that a lot of your designs are worn by South East Asian actress for the red carpet. What do you enjoy most about designing for red carpet events? How is it different from designing your regular collections?
We are honoured that there so many South East Asian actors, actresses and singers choose to wear our clothes to the red carpet. We are trying to make the garments a part of the main collections, which also ensures that they are a part of the brand story.
We are also thrilled to hear of your collaboration with Eva airline! Can you tell us a little bit about that? What did you design for them?
We have worked with many brands like McDonald’s, Nike, Cloud Gate, Mikkeller, and of course, Eva. We have designed their lounge wear, which is based on a story inspired by the clouds.
You have a strong foothold in the South East Asian fashion industry. Can you share with us your thoughts on how the industry works in countries like Japan, China and Taiwan? How do you think COVID-19 will impact business for them?
Covid-19 has changed the operating modes of industries. Everyone will need more independent stockists and a production line which can be self-operated . The international relations have changed and digitalisation of the fashion industry has been accelerated. Taiwan has put in plenty of medical resources and shared medical knowledge to the world during this epidemic.
As far as COVID-19 is concerned, how do you think it will impact business in Europe? How have you, as a designer and a business owner, felt the impact personally?
I believed that the way of placing orders and the pace of production has changed dramatically due to Covid-19. The brand needs more channels to connect with the customers and regulate production lines, which will in turn be more digital and flexible. The relationship between brand and factories has also changed permanently.
As far as content is concerned, how are you working on adapting it to these times? Would you have any inputs for other designers/brands out there?
Whether there is epidemic or not, fashion brands have to change constantly. The brand has to regularly change the way the original brand stories are told and also needs to have more control on own platform.
Collaboration over competition – how do you think this thought process can be implemented in the global fashion industry during these times?
The importance of cross-over collaboration has become bigger and bigger, which can reach more people in various fields and help create a bigger impact by using everyone’s expertise’s.
What are the projects that you are looking forward to releasing after things go back to normal? Can you tell us a bit about them?
We created originally masks in our Autumn/Winter 2020 collection, but they will now be a part of the collection on a longer term. We will have more items suitable for e-commerce. After the pandemic, there will be great number of activities related to economic recovery and travel, and there will be more needs regarding to clothes.
How do you plan on increasing your presence in the European fashion industry?
We have tried to blend in and learn in the past, but now we will use more elements from our home county and the needs of clients to flow with European fashion industry.