London based womenswear label Wen Pan is a brand that fuses the spirit of the Orient with the attitude of 1990s grunge. Launched in 2018, SS20 is Wen Pan’s third collection. It received the accolade of being selected by Fashion Scout, the UKs largest independent fashion week showcase, to win its SS20 Merit Award for emerging designers. Wen Pan joins an illustrious pantheon of previous winners such as Phoebe English, Katie Ann McGuigan and David Koma. I caught up with Wen after the London Fashion Week frenzy had died down to ask her about her influences, her inspiration and how receiving this prestigious award will impact her career.
1. Congratulations on receiving the Fashion Scout SS20 Merit Award. You are following in the footsteps of designers who have gone on to become known globally. How rewarding is it to have your work recognised by such a prestigious body?
I am very grateful of being the Fashion Scout Merit Award Winner. I am happy to have the chance to show the SS20 collection during LFW! I look forward to continually share my point of view about femininity: a delicate balance between prettiness and roughness.
2. The SS20 collection is stunning. I loved the relaxed layered aesthetic, beautiful draping and pattern cutting. What was your inspiration behind it?
The inspiration for SS20 collection is human trace in abandoned family houses in Shanghai. From the ripped floral wallpapers to the cozy bedrooms. I can feel a sentimental presence of the past, a subtle resistance to the ruined surroundings and the cruel reality. We will use some airy and transparent elements for SS20, which will be a fresh try for us, but still in our own aesthetics.
3. For me it continues a recurrent theme in your work of seeking beauty through imperfection. How important do you think that message is in our social media and reality TV dominated world?
It is very important to oppose to the perfect and fake reality that social media and Tv picture.
4 I read that before studying womenswear you studied Chinese literature. How important to you is that your collections tell both a cultural and societal story?
I discovered design when I read an article about Seven Sages of Bamboo, a group of scholars in ancient China. It only described what they worn, but I could picture how they were living and the cool, careless, ‘anti-social’ attitude they had 1000 years ago. That was the time I realized fashion, or clothes could say many things.
5.. You now live in London and your collections have always married an East meets West aesthetic. How has London influenced your creative process?
I decided to base my brand in London because I find in the city a deep source of inspiration. I am always inspired by surroundings. The road between my studio in Dalston and my home is full of surprise and inspirations. I am living in London, a city encourages me to think about fashion bravely, while I am from China, I have an oriental taste deep inside. The combination of these two really shapes my own aesthetics.
6. Your pieces have a timeless quality. Given your commitment to sustainability I wondered how important that wearable longevity is to you?
The world is filled with clothes, so now I want to produce more unique pieces that give room for people to interpret with their unique identities, rather than producing something would be abandoned very quickly.
7. The Fashion Scout award gives you a platform to not only progress your career but also to champion the causes you feel so passionately about. How do you intend to use that platform?
I am very grateful for this opportunity. As we are rather a new brand, it is very good to have some great feedback from the public through this platform, which can help us to improve not only in designing, but also branding.
Huge thanks to Wen who took time out from a very hectic post fashion week schedule to be interviewed and to Nicola from Fashion Scout who arranged it all.