FIP Welcomes Four Rising Stars

In making the leap from designer to design entrepreneur, the smooth sailing most of us wish for is seldom the case. While one is better off being prepared to get through the school of hard knocks, a little extra help could really turn things around. Steered by the Fashion Advisory Group and managed by the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), the Fashion Incubation Programme (FIP) provides a resourceful platform for those who may have shown the world their design excellence but are still green in establishing their brands. In June, we were excited to welcome four new designer brands — DEMO. (Derek Chan), ANGUS TSUI (Angus Tsui), 112 mountainyam (Mountain Yam) and The World Is Your Oyster (Calvin Chan and Joyce Kun) — who made it through the application process and into the FIP family.

In the 2-year FIP scheme, the participating designers are getting all sorts of support from software to hardware: studio space, marketing know-how, chances for cross-disciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurship training, mentorship, etc. While they are getting into the swing of things, let’s take a look at the journeys they have made so far.

Mountain Yam: Orientating towards the vaster fashion world

Mountain started his own label “112 mountainyam” in 2013 after having worked for a few years at some international fashion houses. By intricately combining men and women’s tailoring and other contrasting elements, his designs embolden urban women to express their sophisticated selves. The brand colour Pantone 112 denotes a lively, free-spirited and courageous attitude in life.

Like many novice design entrepreneurs, Mountain felt the need to re-orientate his business direction after having developed his own brand for almost 5 years. He thinks the biggest challenge next to the lack of resources is how to accurately position his label. “The guidance from experienced designers and professional advisors will definitely help me make headway in a shorter time.” He recalled the advice from two groups of advisors during his FIP application process, “I am really grateful for their assistance and insights. They have inspired me a lot.”

Derek Chan: Striking the balance of art and business

Before becoming a part of FIP, Derek has been a member of HKDC’s Design Incubation Programme (DIP) for 2 years. With the programme, his menswear label “DEMO.” has made a wide stride. “I think it’s time to go further and try something new. I always think that fashion is not only a business but also an art.” He got on board with the specific goal of striking new collaborations with different artists.

Relentlessly searching for interesting elements in unfamiliar milieus, Derek aspires to break gender stereotypes through his brand. He unfolds the atypical side of men — sensational, emotional and svelte — with a soft silhouette, delicate structure and surprising details. With FIP, he is poised to strengthen his brand identity, gain more exposure, expand his audience and customer base, and ultimately, become a better designer-entrepreneur.

Angus Tsui: Edgy fashion that makes the world more sustainable

Since the early days of his career, Angus has been motivated to become a sustainable fashion designer as he realised the negative environmental impact of the traditional textile industry. His eponymous brand, established in 2014, puts edginess, uniqueness and sustainability on equal ground. While the surrealistic world of Swiss artist H.R. Giger inspired him aesthetically, he interned with up-cycling pioneers like Orsola de Castro in the UK to explore the inventive and environmentally friendly use of materials.

Angus has found HKDC’s keen support very valuable since his design training, during which he won the DFA Hong Kong Young Design Talent Award 2014. From providing well-equipped studio to industry connections, he found FIP spoke exactly to his needs as he is learning the ropes of enterprise management. “I’m ready to maximise the use of these resources and work with different enterprises and research centres to make my designs more environmentally friendly and marketable.”

The World Is Your Oyster: Scouting the pearl of Hong Kong for the world

Founded in 2014, “The World Is Your Oyster” is the brainchild of fashion duo Calvin Chan and Joyce Kun. After being nominated as one of the “10 Asian Designers to Watch” of Fashion Asia 2017 Hong Kong last year, they established connections with HKDC and were encouraged to join FIP. Their goal is singular and clear, “We hope to gain international exposure and develop our brand more comprehensively.”

For Calvin and Joyce, even though Hong Kong might not be a conventional fashion capital, it is where they call home. Everyday life in the city provides them with a limitless supply of inspiration. For example, they explored the phenomenon of ultra high land prices through their designer tee “1 Square-ft.” Eager to show the world their fresh and poetic experimentations, they are convinced that FIP is the best stepping stone for the global fashion scene.

Each of the four new FIP designer brands’ stories is one about how far one is willing to go for his or her passion and dream. With FIP propelling their grand plans in the pipeline, these design talents are moving up a gear and turning a new page of their career. We cannot wait to see them spread their wings and one day become pioneers of the fashion industry in Hong Kong and other fashion capitals.