Everyone has a story behind their journey. A young Marc Jacobs’ bond with his grandmother pushed his creativity to design, and later on create a grunge collection for Perry Ellis that simultaneously led to his dismissal with the brand, but also great reception from the fashion world. And from there, he started his successful line. Jason Wu used his earnings as a doll designer to start his own clothing line in 2003, and eventually became a well sought after clothing designer with the likes of Michelle Obama and January Jones. Growing stories are what makes us better at our craft and also guides us to find our niche.
That is wholeheartedly what Calvin Chang (a student at Maryland Institute College of Art) is doing as he finishes up his sophomore year as a Fiber and Arts major recipient. Born in Taiwan, Chang came to the states with his family with dreams of becoming an artist. Only a year ago, did Chang know his true passion lied in designing womenswear. After seeing Chang’s collection at MICA’s 24th Annual Benefit Show Hueman, I reached out to have a one on one conversation with him about his collection and inspiration. We chatted over coffee about how the women in his life are a big inspiration, how he can see Beyonce in one of his designs, and how Baltimore has major charm. Check out the full interview below.
What inspired this collection?
I would say my family’s background is definitely the inspiration of my collection since my culture’s background is that the women have to take everything. The women have to stay home while the men work. Most of the Asian culture, the women have to stay home and take care of the kids and home but once my mom kind of broke the stereotype, she works with my dad and also started her own company. And my sister kind of inspired that “Hey, girls can do everything too.”
And two of my favorite fashion designers are Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. And one is giving women’s freedom and one is giving women’s power. I really like their style and the elements they used are still really modern right now. And nowadays, it is still really wearable. Basically for me, it’s just changing mens wear to womens wear with the power suit. I want to make something that is feminine but also powerful.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I am came in to MICA as an artist. I came in like a painter and artist. My family background is making purses and bags. So it was always an inspiration and influence in my life, but i never really knew how to make garments or fiber work until last year. I really wanted to be a stylist/dresser because I always do that with my mom. I like to do that, like decorating stuff but not really making stuff until last year when I became a fiber major and learned a lot of different techniques which made me want to design.
What made you choose MICA as your school of choice?
It was really a last minute thing because my dad wanted me to go to law school or business school. He was like, “make sure that you make money after you graduate” and I said to myself “I mean I can do that and study whatever I want/whatever you want but it’s not what I want.” So one of my advisors in high school said to me “Keep asking a question of who you are and keep thinking and asking yourself who you are everyday.” and at the end – I was like, “I’m an artist.” I never knew there were art schools in the United States. I started searching for art schools in the US. I didn’t want to go to NY (maybe in the future) but not for school because it would distract me too much. MICA sounded cool and I went to a national portfolio day and they loved my work. Everyone brought digital images but I printed everything out and made a book. They were very impressed and said I really take care of my work.
Tell me about your brand.
So I really love working with womenswear, like women’s luxury. I really want to do couture but really something I couldn’t do by myself, I would need a whole team. But ready-to-wear is cool too. It’s wearable, its sellable. I really want to do the CFDA competition. I just want to work hard with what I’m doing right now because this is my first step, and figuring out what’s going to happen in the future.
What kind of women to do you see or want to see wearing your clothes?
I want women who is confident and knows what they’re doing. She knows where she is going in life. She takes care of herself well. Or maybe [I can] help the women to make their life easier. Someone who is also comfortable.
Is there anyone you can see (ex: celebrities) wearing your clothes?
There are too many celebrities. OMG. (SN: This is where Calvin and I chatted about his collection and I discovered that he hand dyed all of his fabrics. See skirt below. He said he would love to see Beyonce wear it. My response was “O-KAYYYY, she would rock it”)
Who inspires Calvin?
I would say my family. If it’s a designer, then Coco Chanel. I mean it’s cliche but it really is. What everyone is wearing right now is because of her. ( Our convo went into Paris Travels)
(The dress above was inspired by The Mondrian Collection designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1965)
Who are your favorite designers?
For the older days, I would say Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. For newer designers, Proenza Schouler. I really like their work too. I love Alexander Wang. I want to be like Alexander Wang one day.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years? 10 years?
Wow, thats a hard question. 5 years? Well I have 2 more years to graduate (in 2019) My plan is to participate in CFDA as a senior.
I would like to have my clothes online first. At least people will see me, notice me and people will like my products.
For 10 years, I would want to be an influence to the younger generation like Alexander Wang influences me right now and Marc Jacobs influences me right now. I want to have my own store and company. Celebrities are wearing my outfits.
What three words describe the mood of your collection?
Power, elegance, and personality.
MICA’s Hueman marks the 24th anniversary of the College’s Annual Benefit Show, and featured 20 individual fashion lines created by 26 designers representing the College’s Fiber, Painting, General Fine Arts, Graphic Design and Interactive Arts programs, among others. The whole show was student-run, and gave a great story on how students are contributing to a more inclusive and socially conscious vision of fashion, which can be notorious for discriminatory practices, particularly against women.
I really enjoyed the fashion show while watching the designer’s express their individuality and creative expression. I look forward to attending next year’s show.
Thanks for reading guys! xo