Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The next Asian fashion capital?

Ask anyone what the fashion capital of Asia is and the answer will most likely be Tokyo. Many trendsetters, fashionistas and style experts would probably agree, but I think the Asian fashion world should stand up and take notice of a potentially fierce competitor for the title of Asian fashion capital: Seoul. Nancy MacDonnell, from the financial times, says that South Korea represents a US$28bn fashion industry, and is one of the fastest growing markets for western brands. Not only are they opening up to foreign influences, but they are soaring ahead in their own right, with their own fashion week, their own celebrity designers, and a huge amount of talent in the industry. I think big brand labels from the UK and US should not overlook Seoul as a market to really push into.

With Seoul’s proximity to both Beijing and Tokyo, it is undoubtedly becoming a focal point of transportation and business in northern Asia. As the country’s economy has become more stable since the 1990’s, new museums, art galleries, restaurants and bars have blossomed, fuelling a growth of creativity and vibrancy. The doors are opening wide for business and entertainment to enter the country and it would seem an excellent place to expand into.

The style and fashion sense in Seoul is probably not as outlandish as Tokyo or as formal as Hong Kong, but it has a playful, feminine quality, which definitely appeals to me. And Korean woman are knowledgeable shoppers, finding out the latest trends and looks from magazines, the Internet and TV. They are confident, smart, and value-driven, and along with the typically Asian preoccupation with beauty, perfection and glamour, they are helping Seoul to become one of the leading fashion capitals in Asia.

We love Seoul!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Artistic Engagement

Art is a major influence on society and can evoke strong feelings in an audience. The artistic director of Hermes believes that the relationship between art and craft is the building block of civilization. These days, fashion houses across the world are trying to capture something of the kudos that surrounds the art world. It is the grand, luxury goods brands that are the most intimately engaged in the world of art. From Agnes B’s art exhibitions and Puma’s handbag-cum-art object launched in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery to Rolex’ partnerships with many of the world’s leading opera houses, they’re all at it.

From our perspective, we want to be part of the future, staying ahead of the trends and focusing on innovative ways to put ourselves out there. We want to create our own foundation and building blocks from which to influence civilisation. At Kanchan Couture we believe collaborations provide an exciting platform for growth. We have done a number of collaborations ourselves with art galleries, boutique hotels, and museums, which not only brings in a new source of clientele, but the context, lighting and mood of the collection changes, thereby creating a new feel for the work. We’ve found that by doing so, the visit becomes infinitely more refreshing and adventurous than going to the same place and only seeing the same thing every time you visit. It places the brand in an entirely different context.

Collaborations also enable us to ally our brand with a certain image. We recently decided to do a collaboration exhibition at the Vitamin Water pop-up store because their company image of vibrancy, colour and energy fit perfectly with our own values. It allowed for a promotion and reinforcement of the values of both brands.

Art provides the best means through which to express our beliefs, freedom and personality in a way that people can relate to. It can make fashion more accessible, for example the Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti-strewn bags for Louis Vuitton. According to him, the bags represented ‘a triumph of the human hand in an age of mega-corporation and mass production’. This style of collaborative work with artists allows designers to engage with artists and brings a new edge and creativity to designers work. It creates a style of dressing that isn’t like everyone else, while at the same time creating something unique and funky; wearable art. Especially with limited edition pieces, such as our Kanchan Couture and UFO Republic collaborative scarf. This style of collaboration allows fashion to bring the magic from artists’ imaginations into our everyday lives- an ambition long beloved by the avant-guard.

This year is all about building new partnerships with big ideas...

Lets bring on the creativity!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Alexander McQueen: Style innovator and fashion rebel.

With the sad news of Lee McQueen’s death, we pay respect to the remarkable designer at the forefront of style who brought fantasy, edge and a rebellious streak to the catwalk. 

When you ask anyone what their lasting impression of Alexander McQueen is, most will talk of his shocking shows, mould breaking models and extreme silhouettes; no doubt the words ‘outlandish’, ‘over the top’, and ‘daring’ would feature more than once. 

His most memorable and lasting impact and influence on the fashion world must be his ability to turn fashion upside down and break the mould. He was the first designer to use Indian models in London and he caused controversy when he took a former Paralympian from the track to the catwalk to model a pair of hand-carved wooden prosthetic legs. His reputation for controversy earned him the titles ‘enfant terrible’ and ‘the hooligan of British fashion’ and his designs reflected his extravagance. 

The lavish and daring Alexander McQueen shows were not simply a parade of beautifully crafted and designed garments in bold, eye-catching colours (although they were all these things as well, of course), but they were theatrical, wild, innovative and elaborate shows! He always liked to shock. Whether it was water filled runways, projections and holograms or volcanic eruptions and snowstorms, Lee McQueen brought life and energy to every show he created. 

As well as creating astounding fashion shows that mixed design, technology and performance, the editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, believes true fashion followers will remember him for what he truly was: “a modern day genius whose gothic aesthetic was adopted by women the world over”. He influenced and inspired a whole generation of designers and looking back through his past collections is proof of his ability to produce extraordinary designs. 

He will be greatly missed in the fashion world. A true inspiration for all designers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Where have all the colours gone?

Today’s dressers are all about ease and functionality. There is little life and soul to the modern work outfit. History and culture tells us that humans love to adorn, decorate and embellish themselves. From tribal jewelry to piercings and tattoos, each culture and ethnic group has their own particular adornment. So why have so many of us lost sight of the fun aspects of fashion and our innate love of embellishments? People get worked up with the idea of need… ‘do I really need this?’, ‘when would I ever need to wear this?’. In the end, accessorizing should not be about need, but it should be about wanting, loving, and ultimately having fun. Necklaces, bracelets, belts and hats will never be a staple item in a wardrobe, but consider them the artwork to your clothing frame.  The detail that makes you stand out from the crowd. 

I was walking through the MTR yesterday and really noticed for the first time how many people were wearing dark tones; black, grey, brown. Only about 1 in every 10 people I saw was wearing any colour. In my opinion, people play it too safe. 

I’m not suggesting we all pierce and tattoo ourselves in order to inject some personality, but accessories provide us with a great means to this end.  I think even the traditional black work suit or dress can definitely be livened up while still keeping with the rules on corporate dress! For example, a thin coloured belt can be used to break up the black. A lighter coloured waist-coat or bright scarf can add a splash of colour while still remaining smart. Maybe choose coloured jewelry, brooch, shoes or handbag. Anything to add some colour and personality to an otherwise dark outfit.  

If you are anxious about experimenting with accessories, the only advice is to try. Don’t be shy. How wrong can you really go?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is for the future of Couture??

I was reading an article in the Financial Times and it made me think. Yet again the question on everyone’s lips at the moment is what is the future of Couture? With clients becoming more demanding of wearable, accessible collections, is the grandeur and ceremony associated with couture clothing really necessary anymore? The traditionalists say ‘yes’ and I would tend to agree. Couture is the expression, liberation and freedom that designers need to truly express their creativity and imagination. From there, these outrageous ideas and concepts are filtered down to the ready-to-wear and, from there, the high street trends. What happens now in couture determines what everyone will be wearing in years to come.

However, these couture collections often resemble museum pieces and rarely reflect the needs and wants of the ultimate consumer. The couturiers intentions may come into question. Is making a public statement solely about beauty, technique and creativity without consideration for the lifestyles of the woman beneath really enough? Couture clothes are works of art, items to inspire while making a statement and when you are up there with the likes of Christian Dior, Valentino, and Chanel, you can afford artistic license to be creative with couture safe in the knowledge that clients will come. But couture clothing is not main-stream and everyday women cannot see themselves in the feathers, beading, lace and ruffles that make up the elaborate styles. When you are a growing fashion business in a buyers’ market, you have to produce and provide items that women can see themselves wearing.

We love creating glamorous, unique, couture pieces, but to keep up with the client’s needs and to grow as a business it is essential to expand and branch into new avenues. For us, this will involve bringing out a new collection in March of ready to wear items. Watch this space for more detail.

We’re ready to take on a new world.....