Feng Chen Wang is more than just one 'thing'. Born in China's Fujian province, Wang studied menswear at London's Royal College of Art and graduated in 2015 with a Masters of Arts in Fashion Menswear. Her collections since then have been a fusion of contemporary streetwear-leaning styles with elements of her Chinese heritage—neither of which is done in any sort of stereotypical fashion.
"I didn't think that much about what is streetwear fashion or what isn't," Wang tells me of her thought process in starting her eponymous brand. "I think anything that makes you feel comfortable is the best thing, and that's a very important thing for me to consider when designing."
If streetwear gets a rep for being repetitive and gimmicky at times, there's none of that in any Feng Chen Wang collection. While Wang likes the relaxed attitude that streetwear-centric details (often taken from sportswear) exudes, she has the same affinity for the rigidity and structure of traditional menswear tailoring. The balance is undoubtedly clear-cut in every collection. It's this combination of time-honoured techniques and details with a streetwear sensibility that has gained her quite a cult following, especially among the streetwear crowd.
It helps too that quintessential sneaker brand Converse has been an ongoing partner season after season, beginning with spring/summer 2019. It's with this collaboration that Wang's love for deconstruction and reconstruction materialises to full effect on a single pair of footwear. Wang's interpretation of Converse signatures such as the Chuck 70 and the Jack Purcell looked like no previous other interpretations. They're often taken apart to their very bare bones and then reassembled to create an entirely new design, all while still retaining the defining elements of each signature silhouette. It's a skill that's inherent in fashion legends—the likes of Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto—and one that Wang indisputably possesses as well.
What's been a rather admirable characteristic of the young designer's appeal is how in touch she is with her Chinese heritage and her ability to incorporate elements of that seamlessly into her designs.
"I wouldn't say that it will be a part of every collection in the future—because you don't really know what's going to happen in the future as a creative—but everything I've been doing so far is very related to my personal life," explains Wang. One fine example was the spring/summer 2020 collection that was inspired by traditional crafts that originated from her home province of Fujian. A trip back home during the annual Qingming festival (ancestors are paid their respects) reminded Wang of her grandmother and the way she dressed. That led to Wang searching for a workshop able to make the fabric her grandmother would wear and then collaborating with them directly for her collection.
Because of COVID-19, Wang has settled back in China for the time being instead of the usual shuttling to and fro her London and Shanghai studios. The confines of the pandemic have spurred her to focus on strengthening her direct-to-consumer sales channels, even setting up a dedicated WeChat store for her China-based clientele. In fact, the pandemic hasn't really impeded Wang's activities much.
The Feng Chen Wang spring/summer 2021 collection is a creative release resulting from the effects of COVID-19. Using acid wash as one of the collection's recurring treatments, no two acid wash garments are alike in any way. There's also a heavy use of patchworking different materials and colours in a garment, a kind of technical make-do-and-mend approach that adds a human touch to the entire collection, especially where human connections aren't necessarily safe in many parts of the world.
There's also a new collaboration that's slated for a spring/summer 2021 release. Wang is getting ready for yet another footwear collaboration, this time with UGG, and applying the same kind of deconstructed flair to the brand's classic styles. She has already affectionately called the styles "winter boots; summer wear", owing to the juxtaposition of elements that the Feng Chen Wang x UGG collection will dabble with.
UGG may have had a rather polarising reputation over the years (you either really hate it or love it), but with Wang onboard the collection is bound to be one that we've never seen from the brand. And one that's certain to be marked with a sense of contemporary cool by this Asian fashion creative.
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