Article by Kevin Young and Siyu Lucy Liu
Photo credit: Xue Liang
Alexander King Chen is an American born, Taiwan based fashion designer. Chen, a young and passionate individual who has a creative mindset combined with an exuberant amount of talent for creating trendy women’s apparel. Many celebrities all over Asia have worn his exhilarating designs during film festivals cementing his prestige abroad. In the following interview Chen discusses his collection for the AsianInNY Grand Central fashion show, his diligence into creating, his authentic draping method, as well as his true love for fashion.
How did you launch your own brand in 2008?
It was actually real easy but also difficult in its own way. From working under different designers in New York I learned about the industry. The industry is different now. Back in 2008 it was very simple. All I had to do was hire a lawyer, register my company, come out with my own fashion designs and then sketch them. All of my designs are hand draped. I needed to have all the hand draped pieces ready then take it to 34st. I got everything together and then my collection was formed.
How does it feel to be invited by AsianInNY to showcase your collection?
It’s phenomenal. I’m ecstatic. It’s a dream come true to be here at Grand Central terminal throwing a fashion show with Malan Breton and the help of the AsianInNY team. It’s unbelievably unrealistic. It’s a homecoming for me to be back here in New York.
Can you talk about your upcoming collection?
My upcoming collection actually is a little bit of a combination of different things that go through my mind. You’ll see a lot of draping and tedious handwork. My new collection primarily consists of only a few colors. It’s more simple yet elegant. It retains a certain sophisticated feel to it.
What were your main sources of inspiration?
Human issues. Femininity and masculinity. These roles we have to pretend to be. These roles that hide who we truly are. Basically these masks that we wear. Culturally we are Asian yet we live in a Western world but then again there are many Western people living in Asia too. I also like to look at historical pictures. I flipped through a lot of old books for inspiration too.
Can you elaborate on your draping method?
What I do is draping. After we come up with what we want to do this season, we get all the fabrics ready together and we would start to pin and cut the fabrics onto the mannequins using our hands and scissors. We eye each inch visually and what we don’t like we re-pin until it comes out to the way that we want it to look. After that we take the cloth apart and sew it into a garment. We would then take the garment apart to make the pattern for it. Once we take the garment apart the fabric twists and stretches. To get the pattern piece to match up with next pattern piece takes a lot of time. That’s why a lot of fashion designers have discontinued this method. That’s why the seams on our dresses are all messed up. They aren’t where most dress seams are yet it still works with the dress.
What do you believe the fashion trends for 2015 will be?
Well you know what, I have spoken to a lot of my friends in the industry and we believe that fashion in 2015 is going to be much more commercialized. That’s not what I grew up for. We love H&M and other places like that but it really hurts us because their brand identity would kill many of the other talented independent young artists that want to make a difference in the world. As much as we appreciate bigger brand labels, everyone wants to be affiliated with them instead of having their own independent collections. Everything is going to be more muted. I really hope people still continue to support these young talented creative designers.
What traits does a designer need to possess to survive in this industry?
You need passion and stamina. This is a 24 hour industry where you don’t sleep at all. You just design and just make sure your collection looks and fits right. Plus everything changes every 6 months. So that thing that you thought was perfect needs to be thrown out of the window. You need to start a completely new drawing board. You need a lot of perseverance otherwise it’s easy to get knocked out.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is my life. I mean to everyone its clothes you throw on to keep you warm. But now I believe fashion definitely represents who you are. Each individual is their own walking billboard. To me as a designer it’s your walking image.
How does a designer create so many designs for their collection under these strict time constraints?
I actually had a reality show in Asia where I filmed four days per week eight hours a day. Filming went on for three months and then on top of that I had to work on my own collection. There’s no time to really do anything. There’s a lot of prep work. Now that I’m thinking about having enough time. I’m not really good at managing my time.
What was the defining moment where you knew you were a great designer?
I really hope that I could reach out to more people outside of Asia and Taiwan. I really want to make it really big outside of these areas. I don’t know what the defining moment is but I know I’m not there yet. But I know I’m going to work hard to get there.
Chen hopes to eventually branch out into the western market. He stays true to what he believes is quality art and strays away from the mainstream fast fashion style. Although serious about his lucrative craft, Chen lives life to the fullest traveling around the world. He’s still looking for his career defining moment as a great worldly designer. Even if he never believes he’s experienced that moment yet, His witty perseverance and unmeasurable love for the industry will cement him as a future fashion icon.