The Taiwanese designer on Japanese nostalgia.
“In menswear class, we are always reminded that we are doing menswear: ‘Even if you want to do something feminine, it has to be menswear,’ I always remember this from my tutors,” offers Taiwanese designer Chin Wang of his time at the prestigious Central Saint Martins. “Maybe because of that, I never really like people perceive me as a unisex brand. It never is.”
Arriving at the college after womenswear training in Taiwan, the designer took on work experience at Jonathan Saunders and Alexander McQueen during his placement year, graduating in 2014 and founding the semi-eponymous Chin Men’s line in 2015: ‘a menswear brand innit’, proclaims the accompanying Instagram account.
Five collections down – think bright red sleeveless tees that scream ‘oral’ (SS17) and sobering knits in lavender (AW16) – the label has recently made its first assault on the Paris menswear line-up, with an alfresco presentation that highlighted brightly coloured suiting and combat pockets, before which, the designer tapped The Four Eyed’s Keisuke Fujita and Maiko Shibukawa for a new editorial exploring AW17.
Here, he talks us through it.
What inspired the new collection?
The guys who works in the financial districts.
And the editorial here, it’s inspired by Japanese characters – high school gangsters, Japanese nerds, the quirk/creepy high school girls and Tokyo hipsters. What drew you to these particular characters?
We – Taiwanese kids – basically grew up watching Japanese drama, listening to Japanese music, chasing Japanese fashion/street styles. And these characters are everywhere in Japanese culture back then; it also significantly influenced the Taiwanese culture back in the 90s. So, I would say it’s more a nostalgic project.
And which were you when you were younger?
I had shaved blond hair and very thin eyebrows, I was crazy about the gangster look.
You’ve mentioned previously that “people in Tokyo definitely make everything sensible.” What do you mean by this?
When I started the project, I wanted the collection to be worn by different kinds of people and not too intentionally showing the diversity. And I feel like Japanese people have this magic to makes things very ‘Japanese’. It kind of removes the brand image in the photos and you think more culturally. That is the goal of the project.
Talk us through the casting for this story; how did you decide on the models?
I asked the photographer Keisuke Fujita and stylist/art director Maiko Shibukawa, who are also the buyers who stock Chin Men’s in their boutique in Tokyo, to take care of the whole project: they street cast the characters based on the brief I gave them. Some of them are the loyal customers of their boutique, The Four Eyed, some of them are friend’s friend or through Instagram. And the only girl in the shoot is Komatsu Nana, who is a big star/actress in Asia who happens to be Maiko’s friend! I am very surprised when I saw the photo.
And you’ve just presented SS18 in Paris. How was that?
It was definitely an amazing experience. And it was also quite late for a brand to do its first presentation after five seasons – I wanted to take things slowly at the beginning and see how it develops, and I think this season it is really about time to expand the business, since we got very positive feedback in sales. We (my presentation producer and I) also found a team that we really have a connection with for the presentation, and I feel like it excites me more than the presentation itself.
Amazing. So what’s next for Chin Men’s?
We gonna re-do the branding with the new art direction team. And possibly a runway show from next season.
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