London-based Taiwanese designer Apu Jan found inspiration in literature for his spring/summer 2020 collection during London Fashion Week, so much so, that the show notes included a reading list featuring books by Terry Pratchett, John Boyne and Tony Hillerman to “better understand” where the concept of the collection originated.
Known for integrating patterns and knitwear to illustrate themes from fantasy and literature, the vast spring/summer 2020 collection, featuring more than 100 individual pieces, took inspiration from the stories focusing around time-lapses, which ApuJan showcased with clocks, stars, dinosaur bones and blossoming or dying flowers to symbolise the flow of time.
This was translated into designs featuring colour blocks, lines and staggered weaves, alongside re-constructed pieces and skewed necklines, all designed to reflect the disruption wreaked by time, and even the model's hairstyles were created to conjure images of a time vortex to fully fulfil ApuJan’s vision for SS20.
Highlights from the imaginative collection included a dress created with overlapping book pages, black gowns in a deconstructed clock print featuring oriental collar and button detailing alongside cut-out to highlight the brand’s signature styling combining oriental details with western contours, and a bold pink tailored trouser suit and coat made in a semi 3D jacquard fabric.
The sporting theme, which was the focus of the designer’s autumn/winter 2019 collection, can also be seen in several of this season’s pieces, including delicate knitted jacquard coords. ApuJan also collaborated again with Nike to create special ApuJan iD trainers in various colour palettes featuring accessories such as dinosaur bones, book pages and flowers.
Following his London Fashion Week on-schedule debut, FashionUnited spoke to ApuJan about where his inspiration comes from, what showing in London means to him, as well as what why music is so important in bringing to life his collections.
‘A strange thief of time’ is telling a story which the time has been stolen. It features time thieves, stolen time, time observers, interweaving timelines, time movement, and confused time, within both retro and sci-fi settings. In this collection, we can see flowers blossoming and dying, deadwood, dinosaur bones, stars and clocks, all of which symbolise the flow of time.
I’m an avid reader since I was a child. From various kinds of novel, such as classic, detective, sci-fi, and fantasy, which includes both western and eastern ones. I also love museum, exhibitions and creatives, therefore, I would also want to tell and create stories. However, I don’t know how to put them in words until I found a way to tell my stories, through my clothes.
On another hand, our studio is more like a lab of knitwear. We have worked with many textile factories to keep on trying designs using new materials, different yarns to create new effects and fabrics, which correspond with our garments.
Apart from garments, if fabric, prints, accessories, hairstyle, make up, visual arts, music or even food and beverage are all created for the same story, it will be an ultimate ideal concept. All the details can respond to each other. After all, a brand is not only about clothes but also related to all other elements, which tell the same story at the same time.
London is a city combines both classic and modern. There are also experiments and creativities within tradition, which inspired young designers and cross over collaborations. It’s also a city with diverse cultures, which is suitable for starting a brand here.
All these things took place in London, which makes me hard to think of any other city. But if there’s somewhere else, it would be my home country.
Anyone who loves our clothes.
Keep on reaching out to more people through my clothes, and retrieve more resources to develop and create more intact stories.
My parents are writers and creators. I studied fabric and clothing design in Taiwan during college, and I came to London for master, studying womenswear design at RCA, which made me decide to tell stories by designing clothing collection.
Don’t think too much and learn by doing. Most of my advice is based on different consumptions, you can’t copy and paste on every scenario, therefore, figure out what works for you and do it.
I love to read, love watching movies and basketball games. I would like to be either a basketball writer in mandarin or a playwright.
Images: courtesy of ApuJan SS20