Prove your humanity

I may have mentioned this kittykat once or twice before and no matter how I try, I simply cannot hide the big knitting needles that 25-year-old Joyce Wang is by far and beyond one of my favorite, freshest and tastiest new design kids on the block.

我以前可能不止一次地提到她,尽管多次尝试还是抑制不住我对Joyce Wang的喜爱,25岁的Joyce Wang是迄今为止我见过的最有创意、最有品味,同时也是我最喜爱的年轻设计师。

The fact that she’s a bit kooky (“weird” is such an ugly word), only adds to our mutual like/mixability.


Her modish travails and thoughts combined with a certain self-confidence — which I for one did not possess 8 years ago — may come off as poseur hubris to some, but I have yet to hear a pedantic word coming from her mouth. And believe you me, in this loveable-Poo Bah industry, “pedantic” is very much part of the wardrobe staples, never to be understated. A fashion faux pas in dire need of some recycling, if you ask me.


That being the case and left off the catwalk, I prefer to see this talented designer as  an afresh not-so-kinder-surprise who uses her latest line Upcycling to take any dull, dowdy, matriarch garment from timeworn to the current timeline. From matron to mistress material. And beyond.


About The Old, The Anew and “Dress me, Be you”

关于旧物,新颜,“Dress me, Be you”

Wang is no newcomer to the designer game, having graduated from the Guangzhou University of Fine Arts, worked for Jack&Jones in Beijing and currently creating her third individual collection in Shanghai (slated for some good old-fashioned runway showing off come April 2017).


Moving from her initial cubist-cubic-marble inspired Transcend graduation collection with its straight lines, severe shapes and constructions, into the (and I quote) “copy-paste” mentality of Jack&Jones (or any similar large brand, for that matter) proved no easy feat for our dame of the hour. “I think any high-end  cooperation with fast fashion brands could bring the latter some new ideas. Nonetheless, in the end, they [the fast brands] just copy one another. The reason I quit Jack&Jones is just that: Feeling the creativity being sucked out of me and basically finding no satisfaction in working for a large brand. I quit and followed my own path. To success? We’ll see, hee. At least I can pay my rent, eat and drink red wine for now.” stated Wang.

作为毕业设计,她以立方体大理石为灵感来源创作出以直线、几何形状为结构的风格服饰;从设计别出心裁的毕业作品,到就职于以“抄袭”而著称的Jack&Jones,Joyce Wang一路上走的并非一帆风顺。她说:“我认为高端品牌如果跟快时尚品牌合作,快时尚品牌是能从高端品牌处学来一些新的设计思路的。可是到最后那些快时尚品牌还是选择了全盘抄袭。我从Jack&Jones辞职的原因就是如此:我感觉我的创作灵感都要被榨干了,给这样的品牌做设计我自己根本得不到满足。所以我决定辞职去走我自己想走的路。至于将来成功与否,我们走着看。至少现在我能交得起房租,不愁吃喝。”

Her first personal collection as a full-fledged dressmaker (don’t take that wording too seriously, bitte) was entitled “Dress me, Be you”. The silhouettes here followed the natural flow of the body, how very feng shui, merely accentuated or boldly empowered by the occasional big graphic design — or light(some) color splash. As they say, the dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress. (Yes, Hubert de Givenchy.) This particular collection gained Wang the attention of the larger Shanghai fashion following in mid-2015. Which brings us to today’s body of artwork: Upcycling, clothing from old to anew.

她作为独立设计师设计的第一个系列叫做“Dress me, Be you”。这个系列尊重女性身体的自然曲线,以突出图案或是以浅颜色点缀为亮点。就像人们常说的,服装要顺从女人的身体而不是拿女人的身体来适应衣服的形状(纪梵希)。Wang的这个系列使她在2015年的上海时尚界脱颖而出。接下来她要我们展示她的最新设计系列:升级再造,变废为宝。

Quality before quantity. No question.

毫无疑问 质量比数量更重要

One 1960s/70s supermodel-turned-famous-actress once said “Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.” We concur, Miss Hutton. And if in the 2010s you can add some sustainability to that style, even better. Upcycling aims to reduce waste by recycling old clothing and giving it a new handmade life. Whether Wang changes the shape, paints it, draws away or mixes different materials; the concept, time, effort and personal involvement in her design process are what make the garment renewed and unique.

一位红于1960/70年代的模特演员曾经说过:“时尚设计师给我们提供了一年四次的服饰换新,然而风格却是我们自己选择的”,我们十分赞同赫顿小姐(Miss Hutton)的说法。2010年之后,在个性风格的基础之上,如果服装还能是环保的那就再好不过了。升级再造的宗旨是减少浪费,回收利用旧衣物,通过手工设计加工赋予其新生命。Wang把这个设计理念实践到设计过程中,经过长时间的努力,通过改变剪裁、添加颜色、混合不同的质地材料等不同处理手法来达到旧物换新颜的目的。


It all starts with a drawing on one side of Wang’s work table…从Wang桌边的一张设计图开始…

“Basically, I have a bunch of old clothes — given to me by friends or retrieved from the city’s random flea/vintage markets — lying around on the one side of my workshop and on the other side, you’ll find designs scattered across the drawing table. Then I just start to put the designs and these ‘unwanted garments’ [‘unwanted’, such an ugly word] together and look which combinations make that perfect fabricated [in every sense] fit.” A yet to be catwalk-stomped concept, especially in China. One other example of such re-construction design, is Gong Jiaqi, winner of sustainable fashion advocating Redress NOG’s EcoChic Design Award back in 2012.

“我有很多旧衣服,有些是朋友给的有些是从跳蚤市场/古董市场淘的,跟我散落在桌上的设计图一起在我的工作间里摆得到处都是。于是我尝试着把我的设计图和这些‘被弃’(unwanted)的衣服组合起来,看哪种组合出来的效果最好。” 这样的设计理念在中国还不是很常见。有一个值得一提的从事再造的设计师是2012年衣酷适再生时尚设计奖的获奖者Gong Jiaqi。


Denim is a Wang favorite; check out the top left.牛仔布是Wang的最爱;见左上图.

Obviously, and even I the non-creative get this, materials are key in Upcycling’s process. When asked about her favorable fabrics, one rolls off the tongue within a sowing machine stitch: “Denim, I favor and adore it.” The material’s workability in reference to shaping, dyeing and matching it, makes it difficult to go wrong with; you cannot wrong with it. Jeans really do represent democracy in fashion. Favorite Upcycling denim designs? One knee-length denim patchwork jacket patchwork and a top incorporating the denim waistband.

很明显,即使我这个外行也知道,布料是升级再造过程的关键。当我问到Wang最喜欢的布料时,她毫不犹豫地马上回答:“我喜欢的是牛仔布”。 牛仔布的可加工性很强,定型、染色、匹配都毫不费力,而且用牛仔布很难会出错,也不会出什么差错。牛仔布代表时尚中的民主。我最喜欢的牛仔再造升级设计?当然是那套带腰带的拼搭牛仔上衣和及膝牛仔裤。

About Pre-Orders, Patterns and Pockets


Pre-order? “Yes, pre-order is the word for Upcycling. It also continues this whole concept of ‘not wasting’. If I don’t offer on-the-spot produce, I don’t waste anything heehee. [In that same galleria of thought] I also don’t know that much about sustainable fashion undertakings in Shanghai; I mean, yea, I hear people talking about it, but I haven’t seen anything yet. I did meet NEEMIC’s Hans Galliker, but he’s actually a Beijinger.” Quote, Wang. Ha, true, he is; but more on the fantastic sustainable pre-order-worship-able NEEMIC here at a later date.

那预购呢?Wang回答说:“预购是再造升级设计的前提。这是在坚持整个理念中‘不浪费’的宗旨。如果我不现场制做的话,就不会产生任何浪费,嘿嘿。关于在上海可持续时尚的发展情况我其实知道的并不多;当然我听到别人谈起过,但我从来没有亲眼见过。我见过NEEMIC的设计师Hans Galliker,但他是北京人”。对,他是北京人,有关NEEMIC的可持续预制时尚,我以后会讲到。

The Buyi from Guizhou: Weaving, Patterns, Indigo. 贵州布依族:织布,纹样,靛蓝.

Speaking of surroundings, all that surrounds us, influences us  on a day-to-day basis. For Wang, her latest inspirations come in the form of the Guizhou Province’s Buyi Minority (布依族) who weave all their garments by hand, usually adorned with some basic patterns (checked or striped). It’s a minority tradition which you can play with and turn into fashion, if you will. The 2016 collection will feature Upcycling designs manufactured in the Buyi handwoven fabrics. With a side of indigo-dye (you boil the plant to create the paint and dye the fabrics or something like that, I’m not good with flora — plants die). The patterns are in fact hand-created as well, twisting, turning and sowing the fabric in such a way  that the indigo’s white and blue coloring creates them very naturally. Plus, nature’s paint literally gets under your skin and benefits your health. TCM, babes.


Of course, “patterns” are merely scratching a design’s surface. Wang goes ton-sur-ton with Upcycling.  Other details that take the collection’s garments from drab to fab (how very DailyMail of me) are the pockets and buttons that allow for adjustable sizes. Not per se in regards to your weight, but in regards to your fashion plate (or palette) de la minute. The wearer can create overlap, oversize or a slim fit, or whatever else befits their dainty dabbling in fashion that day. The design is in the details, non?


About Designers, Details and Directions


One detailed designer Wang holds in Bruce-Weber-high regard is Alexander Wang. Yet in her normal Shanghai lane-house life, she’s a fan of smaller brands coming up with originals — and the likes of LaBoron. As far as her own brand goes, she maintains tat people should buy a garment because they like the whatever-wardrobe-item for itself. Not the label attached to it. Upcycling doesn’t do labels and, well, fashion after all is an instant language (Miuccia), so let the garment do the talking.

Alexander Wang是Wang十分崇拜的设计师。生活在上海里弄里的她更青睐于一些原创设计的小众品牌,例如LaBoron。在品牌发展的过程中,Wang一直鼓励顾客去购买他们自己真正喜欢的服饰,而不是只看品牌。升级再造系列的服装就是没有任何标签的,毕竟时尚本身就是一种即时语言,还是让服饰自己来述说吧。
In sum, Wang believes that “fashion has the power to give you confidence. If I’m not dressed up, I just cannot work. And when people keep staring, you either look fabulous or hideous. I don’t think I’m that ugly SO I must be fabulous. I’m winking now, please do write that down!” I for one am pretty convinced this little fashion frosted cupcake knows what she wants her Upcycling to stand for and is rolling in the very right direction with it — Beijing, Shanghai, Global? No rest or waste for the wicked.

总而言之,Wang相信:“时尚有着赋予人自信的力量。如果我不好好装扮自己,我都没法出门。当人们注视你的时候,你要么是时尚美丽的,要么是丑陋粗俗的。我不认为自己丑,所以我必须要美丽动人。(Wang挤着眼睛在说)请一定要把我说的记下来!” 我很确信Wang知道自己要如何去经营和发展她的升级再造——北京、上海、全世界?这个古灵精怪的女孩会把回收再造彻底进行到底。

Hey, according to Harry Winston (yep, it’s Sesame Street time again):

People will stare. Make it worth their while.

就像Harry Winston所说的:既然人们在看,那就让他们一饱眼福。

Portfolio: Courtesy of Joyce Wang.

Original text (English) by Elsbeth van Paridon for Temper Magazine.

Chinese translations by Li Dan (李丹, of Kitayama Studio).

Elsbeth van Paridon
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