Iconic Chinese American designer plans Fashion Week outreach to fans
Since 1993, when her “East Meets West” collection at New York’s Fashion Week landed her the cover of Women’s Wear Daily, Vivienne Tam has explored links between Chinese and Western aesthetics.
In this weekend’s Fall 2014 show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Tam will partner with the Chinese social communications app WeChat to give Chinese fans a look behind the scenes of the leadup to a show that as always, is inspired by Tam’s Chinese heritage.
“Everything I do is in hopes of promoting Chineseness, and mixing the two worlds together,” Tam told China Daily. “I’m excited to use social media in promoting a view of globalism, because I’ve always believed in Chinese culture and using what I do to interpret Chineseness in my work.”
Interested users are invited to download WeChat, which has more than 100 million users worldwide, and add VTAMFASHION as a contact through which they will receive exclusive, real-time updates and photos of Tam’s preparations and activities before and during the show. Four sets of customizable chat wallpapers will also be available to download through the program, and guests to Sunday’s show will receive a limited-edition iPhone 5/5s case inspired by the new collection.
“We are excited to partner with the iconic Vivienne Tam brand to provide a new interactive experience for the New YorkFashion Week audience,” says Jameson Hsu, GM of WeChat USA. “By adding Vivienne Tam’s official account on WeChat, users can step into her world of fashion.”
Tam, who is herself an avid user of the app, described the platform as a combination of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s all-inclusive global reach amazes me,” she said. “The opportunity to connect with people, especially in the fashion world, is exciting. It adds something to how we communicate.”
Users will also be able to participate in a real- time group chat, with a select few being the lucky recipients to front-row seats and backstage access at Sunday’s show. The WeChat promotion will also allow aspiring models to walk the stage in an unprecedented move especially designed to appeal to young Chinese fashionistas, who Tam believes are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
“Chinese people are changing so quickly,” Tam said. “I really feel that Chinese shoppers are beginning to understand quality, and the Internet has changed the way they look at things and the way they shop. In China, companies used to compete purely on price, but now they are competing in and promoting creativity in different processes. As a result, people in China are looking more into Chinese products.”
It wasn’t always this way, Tam said. The designer, who was born in Guangzhou and raised in Hong Kong, relocated to New York after college out of necessity, she said. When she began designing clothing, Chinese buyers were only interested in Western luxury brands.
“From the beginning, I wanted to change the way people looked at Chinese culture,” she said. “They said, ‘You’ll never succeed, because you’re Chinese and you’re using your Chinese name, designing clothing inspired by Chinese culture. But I always felt, ‘I’m Chinese.’”
Tam’s 1995 “Mao” collection is now installed in the permanent archives of Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum and New York’s Museum of FIT.
Tam previously collaborated with companies for the Chinese market. In 2012, she designed special amenities for Chinese visitors to the Hilton Hotel chain, for its “Hilton Huanying” program. Other US brands including Valentino and Burberry have also moved to target Chinese customers, holding off-season shows and events in China, and livestreaming fashion shows for Chinese audiences.
Tam is working on a line of household items, and is thinking about a fashion line inspired by China’s ancient Dunhuang Cave drawings, she said.
Steven Turner, CEO of SimulTV (center, waving in red) stands with his daughter Saya (right, white coat) on Feb 2 during the 15th Annual NYC Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade. The event, which took place right in the heart of Chinatown, brought together several thousand spectators for a celebration of Chinese New Year.