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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
HK design icon calls for quality fashion design
     2015-May-1  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Tan Yifan

    cicitan2011@gmail.com

    IT is the best of times for young fashion designers, but it is the worst of times for the traditional clothing industry, according to William Tang, one of the iconic Asian designers of our time.

    Having worked in fashion, especially the clothing industry, for over two decades, Tang is concerned with the shrinking market share of the garment industry. “The golden era for clothing workshops like Baima Market in Guangzhou has gone for good,” Tang said to Shenzhen Daily in an interview. “Now it’s impossible to witness a piece of clothing being made in 24 hours since local employers can’t manage to keep a tailor. They just can’t afford to hire workers and the cost of maintaining such a business is way too high.”

    In Tang’s view, the sluggish garment market has caused a chain reaction that will deter talented fashion graduates away from their dreams.

    In spite of the cruel reality, though, Tang believes newcomers to the fashion world are facing a more dynamic era than ever. Designers can easily open an online shop to sell their products. Establishing a brand is no longer an arduous task, which used to require years of hard work and lots of money.

    “Young designers need to learn how to survive with an accurate understanding of the challenges facing the market,” Tang said.

    Although the market seems to have lowered the bar for what some call “fast food fashion,” Tang insists on maintaining a high standard for fashion designers.

    He encouraged the jury panel at the first Shenzhen Creative Design Award last week to only give merit awards in the fashion design category, and he said that all of the fashion entries were below award standards. He felt responsible for sending out the message to the participants, telling them to be aware of the core value of fashion, which is not about speed to cater to the masses, but the essence of beauty and respect for design.

    Born to be disobedient

    Known as the bad boy of the Hong Kong fashion world, Tang was born to be disobedient.

    Having grown up in a big, well-known family in Tin Shui Wai, northern Hong Kong, Tang’s father expected his son to receive a mainstream education abroad. But Tang decided against his father’s will. Tang said he had been fond of drawing since his childhood and wanted to be an artist, which his father refused to support. After he received his bachelor’s degree in economics in Canada, he decided to head to London to take some courses in fashion, which was the last thing his father wanted.

    Tang entered the famed London College of Fashion and was influenced by trends in Europe, such as street clothes and new romanticism. Boring mainstream fashion in London had set designers free and given them new inspiration.

    Tang enjoyed the changes and his time abroad. He spent his holidays traveling alone and said traveling has become an indispensable part of his life. “I didn’t want a companion to care about my feelings on the road, and also do not like to concern myself with the feeling of others while traveling,” he explained.

    While studying in London, Tang became the first Asian male model in that fashion circle.

    A chance encounter Tang had while spending Spring Festival in Hong Kong led Tang to explore the fashion world in his hometown.

    Thanks to his talent and hard work, Tang soon made a name for himself in the fashion world of 1980s Hong Kong. But he resents being labeled as a fashion icon and often criticizes the fashion circle in writing.

    He believes fashionable clothes and design are two different things, and that fashion shows deliberately classify viewers by sending out different levels of tickets.

    He also said that fashion magazines and big brands are misleading consumers because fashion design must be diverse, but people are conditioned to only accept trends leading by big brands.

    Being a rebel by nature, Tang felt uncomfortable staying in hustling Hong Kong’s center. He moved back to Tin Shui Wai and spent several months abroad each year.

    Tang’s fashion choice

    Wearing simple, neat, black clothes, Tang said he doesn’t want to spend too much time dressing up. He prefers classic colors such as black, gray and white, and he seeks inspiration in nature and religion, such as in Buddhism.

    Tang said that despite his interest in comprehensive fashion design and the pursuit of being a fine artist, he has spent more time on clothing design. He carries a pen and paper everywhere he goes and draws sketches whenever he is inspired.

    Facing low profit, fast food fashion, Tang chooses to focus more on the uniform business.

    Tang said haute couture is a common practice for accomplished designers, but he doesn’t like traveling that path. “Being an haute couture designer in Hong Kong means contacting rich housewives and catering to their tastes. But I’m not good at that kind of marketing,” he explained.

    “Uniform design gives me more freedom,” Tang said. “You don’t have to worry about the storage rate and the budget, and you have the freedom to make elegant clothes.”

    Tang has expanded his vision from making uniforms for professionals such as flight attendants to sports enthusiasts.

    “Sports can be fashionable. Now clothes makers stress the combination of fashion and technology and give sportswear a certain sex appeal. Sports uniforms can be humane and functional, which indicates a huge market,” Tang said.

    A cross-border designer

    Tang is a familiar figure to mainland fashionistas. He started interacting with the mainland in 2000.

    “I have frequently been commuting between Hong Kong and Guangzhou for over 10 years. This year, I will open an office in Shenzhen,” Tang said.

    He values the mainland market and said fashion designers can find more opportunities here.

    Tang said there are two factors that prevent Hong Kong designers from stepping forward.

    “Since the 1990s, Hong Kong fashion producers took advantage of mainland labor. They forgot to reinforce quality during development. They stopped because all they focused on was making money,” Tang said.

    “Also, some Hong Kong designers isolated themselves from the mainland. They treat Hong Kong and the mainland as two separate things and refuse to integrate with the mainland and be Chinese, which restricts their development.”

    Different from his Hong Kong peers, Tang is a cross-border designer and is unveiling his next chapter in this revolutionary era.

 

“Young designers need to learn how to survive with an accurate understanding of the challenges facing the market.”

William Tang

 

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