Wenqi Wu is a New York-based Chinese designer who’s one of the excellent and fresh faces of the new generation in fashion design. He was born in Shanghai, where his childhood was guided by traditional Confucian values and by practicing Calligraphy. These traditional things influenced him and his design to focus on lines and shapes. The result is a minimalist, clear and sophisticated label, which we really want in our wardrobe!
Moderneast: Who or what inspired you to choose fashion design?
Wenqi Wu: I guess my mother enlightened my first interest in fashion and art. She used to work in the fur industry, and I can still remember how I used to watch her getting dressed up everyday when I was a child. Also due to my mother, she encouraged me to start studying traditional Chinese calligraphy, and pursuing a degree in fashion design.
What difficulties did you need to fight at the beginning of your career? How these difficulties affected you in development?
I guess the difficulties I need to fight with are the fact that I am really young, and I started my own company right after I graduated from Parsons. People may think you lack of experience, but I think that’s my advantage. Because I am really young, I can make anything from my imagination, and despite the practical matter. I can make my own mistakes, and learn from my mistakes.
If you have to describe your brand in three words, which ones would you choose?
Youthful, effortless, utilitarian-chic
What colours, patterns and materials do you like to work with?
I love to work with geometric patterns with bold colors like primary blue, red, and orange.
Most of my patterns were inspired by modern and postmodern art & architecture. Geometric patterns in a way address the idea of abstraction with a sense of modernity, which I find very intriguing.
Could you say a few words about your current collection?
My Fall Winter 2015 Collection was inspired by the advertising posters during the 1920’s Russian Constructivism era produced by Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Mayakovsky. The collection was especially influenced by the use of geometric shapes and lines with dynamic colors.I manipulated the commercial art poster motifs into my unique dialogue of the innovative patterns, the artful placement of lines and shapes, and the detailed fabrics like custom Jacquards, cashmere knits and embroideries. Ultimately the goal of this collection is to create youthful effortless pieces with a twist of utilitarian chic.
Who are your idols in the fashion industry?
Nicholas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton, I am a huge Ghesquiere fan, he always put his modern twist to his designs.
How do you see the current position of Chinese fashion, the possibilities of young designers?
Yes, Definitely. I think Chinese designers will lead the next wave in the fashion industry. We have already seen designers like Uma Wang, Yang Li, Xiao Li, HuiShan Zhang showing the world a glimpse of young Chinese designer’s global perspective. There are going to be more young designers to come.
Do you stretch back to your roots, when you work? Do you think it’s important?
In a way yes, I do stretch back to my roots, and it is important to remember who you are, and where you are coming from.
I was born in Shanghai; my childhood was guided by traditional Confucian values and the practice of Chinese calligraphy. Today, these elements are visible the way I focus on lines and shapes in my designs. After I moved to New York as a teenager, my visual sensibility was further shaped by the contradictions between Eastern and Western culture.
In Confucian perspective, they value balance, and the idea of subdued beauty. Maybe I was raised by that idea, I prefer more subtle fashion, and sex appeal. When I moved to New York, the fashion here is more exaggerated, and bold. That’s why I really like the idea of Tomboy, it sort of eliminates the boundaries of gender, and it’s about the attitude, and the personality. To me, I love to see women dress in this effortless chic style with a sense of garçon manqué but still feminine. I really love the idea of gender neutrality. It balances my point of view on subtle beauty and femininity.
The contradiction will be shown at the idea of balance. In western Culture, especially in popular culture, many people value something that can catch attention, and the idea of on trend (fast fashion). But I really value subtle beauty. That’s why there’s a sense of utilitarian, sartorial elements in my design. I want to create things that can be hold on to the people who bought it for a long period of time.
Did you have defining experiences during your career, which were affected your further path?
I guess the first defining experience was my graduation collection got featured on Style.com front page. Even just for a day, that really boosts my confidence. The second defining experience were my FW15 collection got featured on WWD, as one of the eight emerging designers. These recognitions stimulate me to work harder.
What are your future plans?
Continue to work hard, and to make my brand be more recognizable to the consumers. I hope that one day if any girl wants to be cool, and chic they will think of my collection.
Article and interview by Luca Fülöp