Interview with Designer Steven Tai

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1. Where does your artistic influence come from and when did you start designing/making clothes?

A lot of it I think comes from artists and designers that I relate to personally. Whether that is through exhibitions or stumbling upon their work online. I think the influence has a lot to do with my own cynical and satirical sense of humor and perspective. I started designing and making clothes around 2007. My first experience was learning to sew with a group of old ladies during the afternoons with biscuit and tea breaks in Vancouver.

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2. How did you develop your interest in fashion design?

I was always fascinated with the role of clothing and its social significance growing up. Especially in high school, I became very interested in how roles and different social groups’ attire. As my mother worked in manufacturing garments, the two ideas slowly converged and my interest in fashion design grew from there.

3. Describe your personal sense of style.

Relaxed, simple, casual.

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4. Has there been a time when you’ve regretted your decision to be a designer?

What motivated you to continue? It is always an uphill challenge when building your own business. There is a lot of hard work and results are never guaranteed. I think the training at Central Saint Martins has really developed my own strength and endurance when faced with adversity. The most important thing is that if one don’t try, results will never come. And it is important to keep in mind that those who never tried can judge easily.

5. Describe your creative process.

It usually starts with a story, and from there research and textile development begins. As this continues, the garments and shapes are worked on along with the details based on the research.

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6. Tell us about the inspiration behind your latest collection.

This season, I really wanted to better define the stevetai girl. I looked back to my very first collection and focused on the geek/nerd girl atheistic and its awkward shapes. This was combined with the idea of Alice In Wonderland’s theme of ‘unbirthdays’ and how it is somewhat sinister and joyous to celebrate the everyday. Textiles combined the idea of nerd checks with the joyous mood of birthday parties to bring the steventai girl to a birthday party she feels socially awkward in.

7. What’s your favorite piece from the collection?

It would have to be the woven electric blue jacket or the ruffle woven baby blue coat. They are so light and happy and I am very pleased with the results of the textiles.

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8. Tell us about the best team you’ve collaborated with.

I think it would have to be the team at Tank/Because London when we worked on the new ss16 video campaign. They understood the visual completely and was able to work so efficiently and collaboratively on the final product.

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9. Describe one of your favorite projects.

One of my favorite projects is our collaboration with Saty and Pratha’s aw15 video campaign. The final series of videos were so enjoyable to me and I am so excited that it will be exhibited at ASVOFF8 this December at Centre Pompidou.

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10. Who are some of your fashion heroes?

Jun Takahashi, Pierre Cardin, Miuccia Prada

11. How do you stay ahead of current design trends?

I don’t think I focus on trends when communicating the vision. Of course there is a general energy in the air each season that preludes to what might be coming next. But it isn’t a focus for each season’s designs.

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12. Do you have any enduring design signatures?

Voluminous trousers, experimental textiles, quirky themes and the nerd.

13. I see that you were born and raised in Canada, what was it like coming over here to study?

I didn’t realize how tough it was going to be until I reflected upon it. It is very difficult to move to a new country and to leave friends and family behind. But it forces you to grow in ways that would never have been possible and I believe it gives the person a wider and greater understanding of the world.

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14. Did you have any expectations about life and fashion in the UK?

I have more expectation on myself and brand. Fashion in UK is a great place to foster new ideas and energy and I would expect that to continue to be an exciting place.

15. What would you say has been your best moment since graduating from Central St. Martin’s?

It would have to winning the Chloé Award and to have the honor to meet Yohji Yamamoto.

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16. What does 2016 hold for you?

My collaboration with the Chinese fashion label ymoynot will be launching the new Spring and Summer collection which I am very excited about. I also look forward to our aw16 collection which will be presented in LFW in February.

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Interview by IFBK



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