Chun Ting Liu is a name you’ll likely be hearing a lot in the coming year. The Taiwan designer, who established his label in 2012, and named the line after himself, recently won “Asia’s Most Promising Designer” at the Mercedes-Benz Stylo Asia Fashion Week 2014 awards night in Malaysia and has been confirmed to show at Milan, Paris and Taipei fashion week 2015 as well as Singapore and the Philippines in 2016.
I am always excited to meet new designers, and having seen Liu’s latest collection I couldn’t wait to understand more about the designer’s inspiration and process behind his collection. I know I'm gushing, but I am genuinely excited about Liu's line. With the use of incredibly rich materials, sourced from both Hong Kong and Europe, with the inclusion of planet friendly recyclable materials, Liu manages to make his clothes look light yet luxe at the same time. With the unique silhouettes, his collection tells two very contradicting stories, yet at the same time Liu has managed to create a collection that is so cohesive, it’s quite brilliant.
Liu’s story in fashion begins with his studies in film. Knowing that Liu had a desire to express himself through art, he was inspired by Director Ang Lee, as he tells me, “I wanted to be successful like Ang Lee who bring the most sincere humanity to every movie. To let the world see Taiwan, I chose The National Taiwan University of Arts.”
However as Liu continued his studies he realized fashion was a more fitting way for him to tell stories and changed to Shih Chien University to begin his training in fashion. With this unique background, Liu uses his knowledge of story telling and allows this to be the central inspiration of his collection. As for his muse, Liu tells me, the pure beauty of a woman. “The young people running around the streets.”
Fresh from Liu’s successful show in Malaysia, he takes the time to tell me about the moment he changed career paths, the inspirations behind his collection, and his plans for the future. So without further introduction, I give you the wonderfully talented designer, Chun Ting Liu.
Firstly, huge congratulations on your award of “Asia’s Most Promising Designer” You must be thrilled! Can you tell us when you decided to change paths and begin your studies in fashion after beginning your studies in film?
I think that the main influence is from my family; most of my family members are in art related industries, my mum is a Jewelry designer and dad is a radio broadcaster. When I learned that films were no longer the only way to reach my dream, I started to learn fashion.
Where did you study fashion and was it an enjoyable process for you?
I was pretty sure that my alma mater: Shih Chien University could bring me everything that I wanted to learn, so I didn’t have to go abroad. Of course, there were times when under pressure, I doubted myself, short of self-confidence. But most of the time I really appreciated the opportunities I got.
There are still very few Taiwanese designers, so I am very excited to see talented designers like yourself coming out of Taiwan. How do you feel being Taiwanese has influenced you as a designer, if at all?
I think that as a Taiwanese, living in Taiwan, I have received a very large and freedom of information, and inclusive society allows me to have more creativity.
I very much feel that film and fashion go hand in hand, have you taken your film background of telling a story to your collection?
I was major in movie and directing, therefore I tend to look at things starting from the beauty of it and I'll dismantle them and use the best part on my fashion line. And that's how I found my unique selling point in this industry.
Do you remember the exact moment you decided to begin your own company?
After I finished a fashion show in cooperation with environmental fabric company, I started my first debut season series 2013SS.
How would you describe your collection, and where do you find your influence?
I think it is a collection of daily life. Through fabric trend analysis, I try to let the fabric speak itself, and telling my customer a story.
The collection you showed at Mercedes-Benz Asia Fashion Week was stunning. I found the styling to be really interesting, with the use of hats that almost had an English feel to it. What was your inspiration behind this?
There are actually two main factors that inspired me for the Malaysia Fashion Week show, the first, a strict father. The second is an abandoned house in the middle of forest. There's a big conflict in between these 2 factors, and from my collections, you can always see some conflicts in it and that's what I love most. All my collections can be mixed and matched by the person who's wearing it to create their own style and preference. I think that's the most important thing to help in showing their own characters.
I read that you use a mix of materials, including environmentally friendly materials that are recyclable, is this something that is important to you?
We think we need someone to do something on this planet, plus Taiwan tech fabric is really good. We try to use as much local fabrics that we loved, and do the environmental protections at the same time.
I also saw that you use very high quality fabrics from France, Italy and Hong Kong. When designing your collection is fabric something that you go to for inspiration before beginning your collection?
In Taiwan, I have a team who provides fabrics and materials from around the world for me to choose. They know I'm quite daring in trying out different materials; therefore they will always bring me what's in trend in other places for me to have a look at. And we're actually starting to explore more on having our own fabrics now, for example like the laser-cut pattern and digital prints that you've seen in my latest collection.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
The most important thing is how you position yourself and your label, knowing that what's the unique point in what you're designing that the consumers might like. And once you've kick start the whole project, then you will never be alone anymore as there will be many people with the same interests along the way to share and listen to what's on their or your mind, then the result that you've been dreaming of will be closer and closer to you. So I really appreciate those who support me nowadays. To be an independent designer, the support they gave is my biggest treasure. And yet, big thanks to who voted me for the Mercedes-Benz designer award last month, I am really lucky to get their support, worldwide.
When designing your collection, do you have a particular customer in mind?
My muse is generally young people running around the streets. Everyone that appear in my life every single day are my inspiration, they don't have to be someone in the fashion line, it can be anything, anyone, any scene from a movie or even any phrase that I saw while reading a book.
I would say Avant-garde yet classic, neutral yet charming, rough yet elegant, casual yet exquisite…
I can see the contradiction within the collection, yet it’s still so cohesive. Can you run through the creative process when you begin your collection?
Yes, I will do three-dimensional cut, as well as fabrics creation, through this process to leave something interesting.
Where are you based and how big is your team?
Our showroom is currently in Taipei, we have a team including public relations, pattern-making of two persons and sample-making of two persons.
Can you tell us where you are stocked?
Taiwan, Singapore, Shanghai, Middle East, Australia, Hong Kong, CROSS THE LINE online shop.
In the future what countries would be your dream locations / countries to be stocked in?
Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines are the currently new stockiest in the near future. By the time Next season comes we will try to enter the European market.
Where would you ideally have your storefront?
I think it needs assessments, (but we) would choose a city in Asia as a starting (point).
What designers do you admire the most?
I like a lot of designers, such as Prada, I like her clothes for the design concept. If you look at the season's quarter, one might think she was not the same style every season, but I think Fashion is to continue to create surprises, so that we continue to feel that there is something new, to play, to try new surprises even frightened. I really love the way she keeps doing new shapes and new silhouettes.
Absolutely, I think fashion is all about evolving. Who are your style icons?
Well-known actor: James Dean and Detail Magazine director, Eugene Tong who is also from Taiwan.
And finally what future plans do you have for your company?
FW2015 will be showcasing in Milan Fashion Week, Paris and Taipei. Pre-Spring 2016 will be showcasing in Singapore. SS2016 will be showcasing in Philippines Fashion Week. And for sure I hope that there will be more opportunities to feature more of my collections for everyone around the world.
I am genuinely in love with Liu’s new collection, and hope you enjoy it below! I don’t know about you, but I literally want every piece of it!
For more information on Chun Ting Liu click here