An individual who seems to capture the relationship between architecture and fashion beautifully in his work, Haizhen Wang is the most recent winner of Fashion Fringe. Putting a refreshing edge on womenswear, his work seems to embrace the tribal along with the futuristic. Despite it being just over a year since he won, he’s certainly made his mark. In a discussion with Fashion Fringe, he talks Fashion Fringe 10th Anniversary and how, with support from organisations like Davenport Lyons and American Express, he’s not afraid of anything.
Haizhen, what inspired your Fashion Fringe 10th Anniversary piece?
Leather pieces are always ones I’m passionate about. Sometimes with your own collection it’s about the story but this was a one off piece so I could do whatever I wanted. So that’s why I came out with part leather and part silk. I wanted to do a test, not only for Fashion Fringe but for the new season. It’s an idea. It’s an experiment.
How has Fashion Fringe as a platform helped you into the industry?
Winning Fashion Fringe was a big achievement for me. It’s been a great support both financially and with studio space. The concept of Fashion Fringe not only awards you but supports you. They have a great understanding of fashion labels. You have difficulty at the beginning with things like money and cash flow but with them they make everything seem possible.
So as well as supporting creativity, it’s been a real help with the business side of things too?
Yes. When things come up I can talk to someone. When certain contracts with different companies have been involved, they’ve given me tips on how you manage the right sentences, the correct legal terms. You always have things like that in business so with their support behind me, I haven’t really been afraid of anything.
How do you think fashion has changed over the past ten years?
I was in the first Fashion Fringe audience ten years ago. From that first winner then you can see the differences. Obviously the benchmark is put up but everyone has their own experiences. Ten years ago it was much easier. Now there’s more competition and it’s hard to find something new. People always expect something new. Technology has obviously changed it. Now it’s all about 3D printing, social networking and at that time we didn’t even have a Facebook. It changes the way you work. New materials, high-tech materials and even when I did my Fashion Fringe collection we didn’t know about 3D printing as much as we do now – and that’s just a year.
What is the best advice you could give to a designer hoping to start their own label?
You have to be really clear about what you want to do. If you want to be a designer you have to want it 100%. There are only certain positions available and you have to prove how strong and how focused to yourself and your work you are.
Words by Josh Walker
Images by NiluFar