In the 60s William Fan’s parents immigrated to Germany and although he first visited China at the age of 18, he has never lost connection to his roots. Coming from a self-employed family, it was always clear to him that one day he’d also start his own business. After garnering design experience in Hamburg and for Alexander McQueen, he completed his bachelor degree at the ArtEZ Institute of Arts in the Netherlands and a masters at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee in Berlin. Never losing sight of his goal of establishing his own fashion label, he got in touch with IMG upon graduation to showcase his first collection during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin earlier this year. We caught up with the young designer to talk about millennial culture and, of course, fashion.
What’s the biggest differences between China and Germany in terms of fashion?
Germans are more solid wearing in terms of colors like dark blue and grey. In general, I have the impression people in Hong Kong are very functional and sporty— the majority at least—but they express themselves more through colors. Also they love to show off brands—they’re all about European and American high fashion brands. The manga scene also often reflected a lot in Asia, but this is more in Japan not so much in China.
What is the most important message you want to deliver with your designs?
I want to create a unique wardrobe. I create classic and timeless pieces with defined details, but also just a bit playful. I want people to be bold and feel comfortable and safe yet powerful in my clothes.
Your debut collection “Welcome Home” at Berlin Fashion Week is an homage to the internet generation of today. How is speed and mobility reflected in your designs?
A lot, like in all the details of my bags, coats and jackets. Here you always have secret pockets for your phone and battery.
Maybe also in your prints?
Yes for sure, I wanted to create an image of how the internet sucks you in. So I went to a server room and tried to place a photo, which I took over and over each other and form it in new ways. Now it sort of looks very floral and it sucks you in. I then have a print made of fingerprints from the iphone, like a scan from the touchscreen. In another item I use metal tunnels which I had found and created the WIFI symbol. I wanted to be very playful and use daily items, but not to be too obvious.
William Fan’s Studio in Berlin Mitte
What do you think of the millennials these days?
Good question (laughs). I think the internet and mobile phones are of course very convenient. We like to inform ourselves and it doesn’t matter if it’s with photos or news. The internet is the new amusement, for everyone, whether old or young— it doesn’t matter. It’s like radio and TV was in the 80s. Today the internet is the new found freedom and liberty.
Where do you produce your clothes, and how do you circumvent the working conditions in Asia?
I’m working with several manufacturers in China. China is convenient and has a long history in garment production. The know-how of old traditional craftsmanship in combination with modern machines makes the working environment interesting to me. The Chinese garment market is vibrant and has so much to offer. You can easily find the right suppliers and get silk and cashmere qualities that you cannot find somewhere else. I have been visiting factories in Turkey as well as in East Europe and, in comparison to these countries, China develops quickly as well as their working conditions. In Europe we have to understand that it has changed for the better, China has become a rich country.
Do you already have an idea for your next collection?
Yes, I am working on the new collection for Spring/Summer 2016. The collections are always a reflection of myself. Every season I am asking myself what is the next new thing and how can I update my patterns. I am quite consistent with my designs, but of course they develop. You will see it as a consumer mostly in the shape. For the new collection, I once again want to work with the German and Asian contrast. This is just something that is always in my head.
You also design bags and accessories. Has it been difficult to stretch yourself across the spectrum of fashion design?
I not only want to be a designer for fashion, but also to extend my work onto other things. I want to create an image and a lifestyle. Like Ralph Lauren, I would love to have the power to create a world you live in. I’ve dreamt about doing this for a very long time and this is why I’m very motivated!
Your fashion icon past and present?
I am a big fan of Jil Sander and Helmut Lang because they are German/ Austrian designers and have a big influence.
Lookbook photos by William Fan, Make- up by Taeko Omae
Anaolog photos by Alina Asmus, Make- up by Taeko Omae