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​​​​​​​Stories and Emotions Depicted Through Clothes (TAIPEI Quarterly 2022 Winter Vol.30)

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Post date:2022-12-12


TAIPEI #30 (2022 Winter)

Stories and Emotions Depicted Through Clothes 

Author Tina Ting, Kerstin Hsu 
Photographer Wei Wen Chen, APUJAN 

Taiwan's creative industries have been booming in the past decade or so. In 2018, Taipei launched the first “Taipei Fashion Week (台北時裝週)“, which not only promotes the development of Taiwan's apparel industry and nurtures more young talent, but also forces locals to pay more attention to the profession of “fashion designer“ and Taiwanese fashion brands. In recent years, Apu Jan (詹朴) has become one of the most notable names in the Taiwanese and international fashion industries. 

22-10-21Taipei mag 80-2 (Copy)▲Apu Jan is one of the most notable names in the Taiwanese fashion industry, and is also considered one of the best bespoke gown designers in Asia as per Tatler magazine. (Photo/Wei Wen Chen) 

Debuting at London Fashion Week 2013, at the age of 26, fashion designer Apu Jan has been revealing memorable collections from Taipei and London ever since. What’s more, he is undoubtedly the most active and versatile designer around. In addition to his eponymous label APUJAN, Jan has also designed in-flight loungewear for the Taiwanese international airline Eva Air (長榮航空), costumes for the Taiwan-based modern dance group Cloud Gate (雲門舞集), stage outfits for the Taiwanese indie band Sodagreen (蘇打綠), and uniforms for the well-known Taiwanese bakery Wu Pao Chun (吳寶春麥方店). 

In the creative process, Jan begins with crafting the story’s theme. It can be fantastical or mysterious in nature, but no matter what, the story is told through the interweaving of his clothes and the external ambiance in any given industry or environment. 

Which is to say that storytelling is Jan’s strength. He is an avid reader with extensive literary knowledge. As such, during the design process for each collection, Jan would share a book list with his colleagues as the season’s thematic inspiration. 

Beyond Fashion Designs 
Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not slow Jan down. Though fashion shows came to a halt during the outbreak, he used the trying times to create a digital show in the form of a micro- movie to represent the collection’s concept. The digital show portrayed a world of fantasy, illusions, and textile aesthetics. 

22-10-21Taipei mag 30 (Copy)▲This studio is a space where ideas gather. Inside there are various fabrics, design drafts and photographs. Here is also the birthplace of garments. (Photo/Wei Wen Chen) 

In addition, his various cross-disciplinary collaborations, including dessert packaging for Kuo Yuan Ye (郭元益), designing visual concepts for the Kaohsiung Reading Festival 2022 (高雄城市 書展), food packaging for McDonald’s, pet clothing, and on-going jersey designs for the Rakuten Monkeys (樂天桃猿) baseball team, all utilize fashion concepts to establish the main visual theme. Jan enjoys cross-interdisciplinary exchanges and communications between different professions, as these are all learning opportunities. 

APUJAN SS23奇幻旅館 布料與細節 (10-1) (Copy)▲Apu Jan makes garments with Jacquard fabric which he designed and developed himself. (Photo/APUJAN) 

Taipei & London — A Tale of Two Cities 
After completing his studies at the Department of Textiles & Clothing of Fu Jen Catholic University (輔仁大 學織品服裝學系) in Taiwan, Jan went on to obtain his Master of Arts from the School of Design at the Royal College of Art in London. After years of self- exploration, he decided to build his label. Taipei and London both lay the foundation for his path to becoming a fashion designer. 

Having lived in London for more than eight years and with more than 20 seasons of collections under his belt, Jan observes that in the fashion capital of London, labels of all scales are mature due to centuries of history in Europe’s apparel industry. In contrast, Taiwan’s fashion industry is still in its infancy. 

“However, Taiwan has a very strong textile industry. Taiwan’s development and production of performance textiles, for example, is top-notch. Taiwan’s fashion design students have access to textile resources in the early stage of their careers. The Jacquard that I use is almost entirely developed on my own, and its type of resource is much harder to access in Europe,” explains Jan. 

“The wealth of textile resources means students can learn to fully utilize them while still in school. The professors in Taiwan are also very familiar with textile factories. This forms a compounding effect, and is an advantage Asia has to offer. The fashion design world in Europe highlights creative development, while technology is underscored as the foundation in Taiwan. Taipei’s strength lies in fabrics and technology,” Jan adds. 

Life in Taipei 
Jan’s day typically begins at seven or eight in the morning, because the factory he partners with opens early. He commutes between his home in Daan District and his studio in Datong District. Often, he roams to different parts of Taipei to visit factories and collaborators to gain a more in-depth look at their work. “For instance, I watched two years of rehearsal during my collaboration with Cloud Gate, in order to make my design more in line with the movements of the dancers,” Jan explains. 

To Jan, when journeying through the city and in performing his daily duties, one thing becomes clear: Taipei’s convenience is unparalleled. For example, invitation printing can take a long time in London. Arranging for printing is usually the first step to organizing a fashion event, as it takes the longest time to be completed. What's more, an expedited printing request can cost a fortune. On the other hand, Taipei is much more efficient in this regard, and arranging for invitation printing can be the last thing on the to-do list. This difference in convenience allows for more flexibility in the work flow. 

22-10-21Taipei mag 26-2 (Copy)▲As Jan explains,  "Due to close interpersonal relationships, Taipei’s cross-disciplinary development has been much faster than in London." (Photo/Wei Wen Chen) 

Furthermore, transportation is very affordable in Taipei, and easily accessible and comparatively affordable taxis facilitate work efficiency. In London, public transportation is the preferred mode of transportation except for transporting large items, but this significantly decreases efficiency. 

This is why Jan chooses to produce his garments in Taiwan, where his team can easily and affordably commute from point A to point B. Thus, his strategy is to bring high-quality raw materials from overseas for yarn production in Taiwan’s top-notch textile factories. 

An Objective View 
“Regardless of where you live, everything the city has to offer brings something to the table,” says Jan. 

Jan tries not to overthink a city’s pros and cons, but rather objectively analyzes a city through the lenses of sensitivity, convenience, and communication. 

“For example, we might think a street full of mopeds isn’t exactly the prettiest cityscape, but for foreign journalists, it is a fascinating scene of the beauty of Taipei that can be captured through photojournalism. Or, sometimes intent and functionality can be inconsistent. For example, to make a sign or a poster more elegant, we may choose to decrease the font size, but lose out on the communication.” 

“I believe communication is critical to expanding and scaling up,” says Jan. 

Whether it’s work, observing a city, his view on life, or collaborating with various brands, Jan remains open and rational in all regards. In many ways, Jan represents the new generation of creatives in Taipei. His prevailing mentality of open-mindedness will definitely bring more energy and creativity to the Taipei fashion scene. 

1.APUJAN最新時裝系列 奇幻旅館2 (Copy)▲The theme of APUJAN Spring Summer 2023 collection on London Fashion Week is "Fantasy Hotel in the Sky", which is inspired by detective novels he adores. 

4.多次合作的大元 林艾璇再次登場於APUJAN時裝秀 (1)2 (Copy)
▲Actress Josie Lin, a familiar face on Apu Jan fashion show, was also participating in Jan’s special online presentation film in London Fashion Week. 

以布信封組成的白色洋裝 走在資訊滿溢的房間內 (Copy)
▲The model is in a white dress made up of cloth envelopes, echoing her walking inside an information-filled room. 



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