PEOPLEText: Michael Sullivan

Si Chan is a 2012 graduate from the London College of Fashion; his designs are unusual but thought provoking as they incorporate hands and even hugs. One particular design, the Hug Me Jacket, set fashion commentators abuzz as it expressed so much as well as presented a very different idea about fashion. His work offer a powerful message, and although his collection is colourful and invoke a pleasing sight, at the same time a deeper emotion of isolation and loneliness can be felt. He is a new face in fashion design; we caught up with him to talk about his work, his designs and his thoughts.

Si Chan

Please introduce your particular perspective on fashion design.

Nowadays there are so-called fashion is exploiting nature and those people in developing countries irresponsibly. There are numerous workers who are paid with unbelievable low salary with extra long working hours, just to make large quantity of cheap clothes. Also, cloth factories use low-cost methods and result in server environment pollution and health problems. (Other industries are having the same problem as well.) This kind of disbursement is just for the sake of satisfying people’s vanity and desire. Producing fashion must produce in a responsible way. Small-scale production can ensure the creativity, quality, value and product’s uniqueness, but also make less harm to our world. Actually mass production could achieve it too, as long as people know how to choose good quality clothes and buy less disposable cheap goods. This step could improve social civilization and compensate a little to the Earth. This is my small yean towards fashion design in the future.


What motivates you to be a designer?

I don’t know when that, images and colors appear in my mind while I am listening to music. When the singer is singing, I start to think involuntarily that what performance and costumes would be suitable for the song. This is how my original idea to start designing outfits. (In fact, they should be classified as costume design. Therefore, my designs are rather exaggerated.) My brain keeps this kind of training all the time. So I keep gaining many ideas about performance, story, styling and clothing. The reason I do fashion design are not due to some great ambition. It is just because it would be wasted to not make the ideas become real. The idea has been come out anyway. Apart from that, it seems that I don’t have any other talents. (haha)


What inspired your 2012 collection? The most prominent aspect seems to be hands, is there a message that you wish to communicate?

The design inspiration is come from the experience of my childhood and loneliness. Thus, the outfits are all very colourful , and those padded clothes make people feel joyful, comfortable and being protected. Hands can represent the figurative object of an abstract concept about the (dis)connection between urban people, and their deficiency and desire. Of course some people think that the collection looks abnormal and creepy. Actually, urban people nowadays are somehow act like a bit that. So am I.


Another aspect of your clothes seems to be based on hugs, do you feel hugs are very important? Was it difficult to incorporate such a human thing into fashion?

Yes. Hugs are an important action to express communication. Communication is the most essential part among everyone, and which is people lack of it nowadays. It is always very easy to archive what you want if it is unnecessary to considerate other people and factors. Hence, I am not really satisfied with the collection. It is still too subjective and native.
Yet, this is the reflection of my ability and sense on the phase of making this collection. When I recall it, I feel unsatisfied and shameful, which is also an improvement. Isn’t it?


The Hug Me Jacket seems to have been particularly well received, do you think this is caused by a need that most people aren’t willing to voice, that they really want to be hugged?

In fact, the feedback of the jacket is extreme. Some people appreciate it but there is much ridicule at the same time. I feel grateful to that love the jacket. No matter people support or taunt my designs, they are the energy to make me ponder.
Some people love to be hugged and some do not. However, I believe that most of the people hope to be cared and loved. It is because human are somehow gregarious biological.
Everyone is born with some character flaws. Therefore, people and things around us could complement the character flaws and learn from them.
As I have mentioned that maybe nowadays people’s material life is way to vast.
It decreases the communication between city and not dare to speak. But the nature of hope to be cared remains unchanged. It seems that it is one of the reason of many anomalous values appear today. Not everything can be taken for granted. You have to grab love if you desire for it. After that cherish it.


Could you tell us more about your designs for this year?

I am applying the postgraduate course and thinking of a new collection. The coming up collection will be more wearable and functional. The collection will be added conceptual element from my view of religion, people and the world. I will be referencing more the details from classic men’s wear and tailoring. The outfits will not be too subjective but consider more from different angles. Not losing personal style for the main purpose and balancing from different elements. I hope that it will gain recognition from various people and inspire them.


Please tell us things that you care about most when designing clothes.

In the past, I would be very care about the uniqueness of my designs; the level was even too much. (Just like when I was making the Hug Me collection.) Of course I still care about original ideas, but more things are considered as well. They are aesthetics, practicality, technology, uniqueness, the ability of expressing concept, personal style, etc. Trying to balance from various elements and make something inspiring. I used to lack of the consideration of the design appearance and practicality. In fact, clothing are made with high quality would be appreciated by most of people. Even though they do not understand what concept I want to express, they could still gain from my work.


What is your answer to the question, ‘what is fashion’?

This question is similar to “what is life? ”, “what is art?” or “what is a chair?”. I could have given a contemporary or personal answer at this moment. However, it is meaningless. The spoken answer may change in 1 year or 1 second. Due to material and time keep changing, there is no definition to all titles. They are just pronunciation. There is thousands of people and value in this world. Besides human, thousands of things exist too. Some people may not care others, and still answer, “What is (my) fashion? “. However I love to be complemented with pondering from others. Apart from that, we are all come from the same piece. Aren’t we? For your question, I would answer, “I am seeking through my life time.” It is not because fashion is especially important to me. “Answer” sometimes means the whole thing, not just a few short syllables.


What kind of clothes do you usually wear?

My own clothes are almost only 4 colours. They are navy, grey, black and white. I am not a fashionable person. As long as the clothes are comfortable, classic looking, hardwearing and functional. Adding some accessories like glasses and socks would be more personally stylish.


Please give your message to the Japanese audience/readers.

In frank, I am affected by Japanese culture greatly since childhood, especially comics and animates. When I grew older, I saw many Japanese films. Also, I love reading all fiction by Murakami Haruki. Moreover, one of my favourite musician is World’s End Girlfriend. For fashion, I fond of COMME des GARÇONS, Junya Watanabe, Undercover, Anrealage, etc. Japan has an extreme culture. There are many redeeming features but meanwhile with some drawback. Yet it is undoubtedly a place with strong creativity and deep cultural. I sincerely thank to Japanese culture that has affected my aesthetic and accomplishment. I pray that various remarkable industries like, creative, culture, technology and others will not be affected by the act of nature, political problem and the excessive capitalism. Keep going!

Text: Michael Sullivan

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