For three consecutive years now, renowned fashion retailer JOYCE has partnered with the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) for the New Talent Award, giving winners the opportunity to create a capsule collection with the brand. After claiming the second runner-up prize at last year’s YDC, Enzo Chan is back with his winning collection, SINCE 1996, which is available in-store at JOYCE, Pacific Place.
“I think his attention to detail and his kind of craftsmanship is shared within our JOYCE DNA”, said Michael Mok, head of merchandising at JOYCE and YDC judge. “It’s his creativity as well; his use of fabrics and his techniques.”
Having worked tirelessly on commercialising his YDC runway collection in the midst of the pandemic and launching his brand VO-YAGE, you’d think Enzo is ready to slow down – but the 24-year-old designer is just getting started. In an exclusive interview with #legend, Enzo shares his pandemic life lessons, behind-the-scenes of his JOYCE x ENZO CHAN capsule collection, and a few words of advice for fellow Hong Kong designers.
As a designer, what have been some of your greatest difficulties during the pandemic?
Time management. It was hard to find a producer in Hong Kong to make the garments as the costs are higher here. Many factories are also closed right now, so I had to find different companies to help me produce the items separately.
Were there any positives?
Having to produce in Hong Kong meant that I could communicate face-to-face with the tailors and get them to do exactly what I wanted. With factories in mainland China, we can only communicate through Wechat or Whatsapp – taking photos and just talking. So sometimes, they’ll complete wrong orders, have sizing or cutting problems, and we’d have to make the samples again and again to confirm the product.
What are some of the things you’ve learnt from this time – both as a designer and in your personal life?
During this period, I did some freelancing for a friend of a friend’s company to design a sports jacket. There were many off-days during this period, so I started designing for my brand’s next season by sketching and looking at new fabrics. It was pretty busy, but I like this tempo.
I’ve learned that you have to keep going. Once you stop, it’s very hard to find the motivation to get to the next step. Even if you’ve been fired from your job, you can still prepare [for what’s next]. Learn a new skill, get on social media, pick up YouTube – anything to keep learning! After this period is over, start fresh.
Could you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind your SINCE 1996 capsule collection with JOYCE? How is it different to your previous works?
This is my second collection. My first was around three years ago when I was still doing my higher diploma. I studied knitwear design, so there was a lot of knitwear in that collection. For SINCE 1996, I did a lot of embroidery as well as knitwear, with a lot of detachable or functional details. That’s my signature in this collection, the “gimmick”.
SINCE 1996 is a reflection of my past 23 years and memories of my life, so I’ve used many pictures of family and friends for graphic details. For instance, you’ll see my best friends and brother on the top of jackets from photos that were taken in different countries like Japan or China. For my brand [and this collection], I’ve taken inspiration from my friends or just myself. My friends have joked that this collection is really just clothes from my wardrobe – they always say I create collections for myself!
What has the experience working with JOYCE on the collection been like so far?
They’ve helped me a lot, especially with sizing – that’s a problem I’d never thought of before. My clothes are oversized, but I had to make sure that they would suit anyone who was interested in buying them. They always offered their opinions and advice on how to make items more wearable (like the jacket). It’s also been fun – there was a meeting where they tried on the whole collection, and everyone looked like little boys in men’s clothing. It was really entertaining to see the buyers of your collection in that way!
Describe the collection in three words.
Positive, vintage and nostalgic.
Favourite piece from the collection and why?
The double-sided jacket, which combines knit and woven fabric. It gives you two totally different looks in just one jacket. For something fun and playful, you can wear the knitted side, which has embroidery for added texture. For something more formal or professional, you can use the woven side. It’s both durable and versatile.
How has the support from JOYCE and YDC helped you grow as a designer?
With JOYCE, they’ve shared a lot of their experience with me on how to operate and create a brand, so it’s made me think more about the future, the style and identity of my brand. I’ve also made a lot of friends in the fashion industry through YDC, so they’ve helped me expand my social network.
What’s next for VO-YAGE in 2021 and beyond?
I’m developing my next collection right now (still oversized), and I think I’ll still be using traditional embroidery in graphics of different people. Maybe I’ll use images of myself in the next collection, but I think I’ll change the drawing styles. I might change up the colour palette and do more knitwear as well.
What would you like to say to other young local designers?
Do what you want. I started developing this collection in my last year of university as a final year project, and already then, I told myself to do what I wanted. Don’t listen too much to other people or worry about what they might like. Instead, focus on the details and how you want to present your collection.
The Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) will be taking place virtually this year on 19 September 2020 and broadcast at 8:45PM (HKT). Learn more about this year’s finalists and vote for your favourite collections for your chance to win a HK$2,000 e-Gift Coupon sponsored by Hysan Place (for 7 lucky winners)!
The JOYCE x ENZO CHAN capsule collection is now available at JOYCE in Pacific Place.
(Photo credits: HKTDC)