Men’s Fashion Week is coming to Vancouver this Thursday and the two-day affair promises to showcase local talent whose collections are as multiculturally unique as their designers themselves.
“The mixed community with Europeans, Japanese and Chinese, for example, is a promising market,” says Theresa Chen, bridal department store consultant and designer, who will present her collection at the event on Aug. 9 and 11.
Men’s Fashion Week – or MFW – will highlight Vancouver’s multicultural roots by displaying the creations of 12 designers who grew up and studied in different countries around the world. Chen was born in Beijing and lived in Paris and London before graduating in menswear fashion design from the LaSalle College in Montreal.
International designer Frederick Fung will also be attending MFW 2012. Fung left Hong Kong in the 1980s and spent a decade exploring the United States. In 1996, he crossed the border and decided to settle in Vancouver, where he would find not only his home, but also his biggest passion.
“I couldn’t find a job as a graphic designer or as a sculptor,” Fung recalls. He eventually enrolled as a student at the Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design. A few days after his graduation, he was hired as an assistant designer by a local company. Today, Fung passes on his knowledge and inspiration as a teacher of Design Concept and Sewing at the Visual College of Art and Design (VCAD).
He watched downtown’s boom from up close, but the city’s fashion community has evolved very slowly, he says. According to Fung, the growth – though modest – can be noticed on Main Street and Commercial Drive where many designers started their own businesses after learning about fashion and design in Vancouver in the past two decades.
“In other places, such as New York and Europe, the fashion industry is certainly bigger, but they also have fewer opportunities to offer,” Fung says. He believes that the men’s fashion market is growing. He sees it as an advantage to be in a city without a traditional foothold in the fashion market, and yet one that has just created an annual event focused on this market.
“The place and money are not my biggest concern,” Fung says. “I focus on my creation. I enjoy making clothes and I create them with my own hands.”
Chen says her participation in last year’s MFW opened doors shortly after she moved from Montreal to Vancouver. “Thanks to the event, she was able to make friends and establish connections with people from the industry, and also gain confidence in her own vision, she added.
For her, fashion is art. A designer’s inspiration can come from everywhere: movies, magazines or even people seen from far away.
“I used to be like that too,” says Fung. “Nowadays, I get inspired by the fabric. I touch it and feel the textures, the colors and then I can create.”