Fashion Scout Merit Award spring 20 winner Wen Pan takes a break from London Fashion Week preparation to speak to Drapers about her design inspiration and brand ambitions.
Ahead of London Fashion Week, which kicks off in the capital on 13 September, Drapers speaks to the winner of the Fashion Scout Merit Award, Wen Pen, as she prepares for her debut spring 20 catwalk show.
The award, now in its 10th year, provides support for two seasons of London Fashion Week to help young designers to grow their brands on a global scale. Previous winners include womenswear designers Eudon Choi and Katie Ann McGuigan, and knitwear specialist I-am-chen.
This year’s winner, Wen Pan, trained at Central Saint Martins in London, and makes womenswear influenced by traditions from her Chinese heritage, as well as conflicting notions of fluidity and brokenness. Rugged fabrics, raw edges, layering and loose, draped silhouettes characterise Pan’s aesthetic.
She launched the brand in 2018, and it is currently stocked by Selfridges as part of its Design Floor installation, which promotes young, creative designers. Retail prices for the brand range from £90 for a tank top to £620 for a trench coat.
Wen Pan talks to Drapers about her inspirations and influences.
How would you describe the brand?
By using raw fluidity [in fabrics] and layers of textures, the brand evokes a balance of femininity and roughness.
What is your background? How did you come to launch your brand?
I graduated from the Central Saint Martins womenswear course in 2015. Before launching my label, I interned and worked at fashion houses including Christopher Kane, Alexander McQueen and Uma Wang. I have always been obsessed with the beauty of brokenness, ancient Chinese recluses and the 1990s. I would like to translate my inspirations into clothing.
What prompted you to become a fashion designer?
Many years ago, I read an article about the Seven Sages of Bamboo, a group of scholars in ancient China. It only described what they wore, but I could picture how they were living and the cool, careless, “anti-social” attitude they had 1,000 years ago. That was when I realised fashion, or clothes, could say many things.
What are some key pieces from your collections so far?
The distressed trenches and dresses. I like to present them in both summer and fall collections. The structure of the garment allows me to play with layers and deconstruction, keeping raw edges on the multiple different fabrics.
What are some of your inspirations for your designs?
The design journey always ends with deconstructed items that translate [a sense of] brokenness into delicacy. The brand shows an image of quietness in chaos and celebrates the confidence in imperfections.
What are your aims for the spring 20 collection?
Sharing my point of view about femininity: a delicate balance between prettiness and roughness. Thanks to the Fashion Scout Merit Award, I will have the chance to have a solo spring 20 show during London Fashion Week in September 2019 and I am looking forward to it.
What has been the highlight of running your own brand so far?
The feedback I’m having from people. I am very satisfied when women like what I’ve designed for them.
Have you faced any unexpected challenges in running your brand?
As the brand is new, every day is an unexpected challenge. It can be stressful, but we never get bored.
What are excited for in the future of the business?
I am looking forward to expanding my brand outside UK and to have the chance to work on bigger projects or collaborations with artists.