A self-professed lover of pattern making and textile design, Wen hopes to, one day, start his own brand with a centralized focus on both these things. We spoke with the young designer to gain better insight into his senior thesis collection and to learn more about his goals post Parsons.
Nora Maloney: What specifically drew you to Parsons School of Design in New York City all the way from your hometown of Hainan, China?
Han Wen: After first coming to the U.S. 6 years ago, I had become a lot more involved and dedicated to my art. I really enjoyed being able to immerse myself fully in what I loved to do but, and despite receiving a lot of encouragement from my homestay parents at that time, I had never really considered doing this for a living.
It wasn’t until my AP art teacher asked me whether I had considered becoming a designer in the future that I began to realize that drawing and designing had been a part of my life the entire time. It was the one consistent thing that I had been doing since I was a child. As a result, I decided to apply to Parsons in order to fulfill my dream.
NM: What was the most rewarding experience for you in your time at Parsons?
HW: Being a Kering x Vogue.com Empowering Imagination finalist and having my work featured on vogue.com.
NM: You cite women, specifically the women of your family, as the driving force behind your thesis collection. Where do you find this sort of deep-rooted connection? Is this a common theme throughout your design process or do you draw inspiration elsewhere?
HW: This connection comes from my in depth, step-by-step research. I really don’t know how I find it, necessarily, but when I do get to that point, I just know. It’s more of a design instinct, I suppose.
Designing for empowered, inspiring, and beautiful women is part of my career goal, however, I don’t always only use women in my family as inspiration. In fact, this is the first time that I have ever taken my work to such a personal level. Usually, my inspirations come from all kinds of sources so long as they can be expanded upon and developed into a collection.
NM: Your thesis collection is undoubtedly couture- Do you identify as a couture designer? Is this an area of design you want to explore more or do you intend to create more marketable collections in the future? If so, how?
HW: When I was doing my thesis collection, because each student was only allowed to showcase 6-7 looks, I wanted to make my 7 looks very extreme and so naturally they ended up to be at the couture level. That being said, making a couture collection was never my intention and I don’t want to be I identified as just a couture designer.
I do have a passion for couture construction and techniques but in the future I want to focus more on how to find the balance between my passion for couture, my creativity and the wearable and more commercial side to clothing.
NM: The branding of your senior thesis is exceptionally thought out, is this something you have always been passionate about? What role has/will social media play in building your brand?
HW: Yes, I have always wanted to start a brand and to do that I know I have to be very thoughtful about all aspects of branding. I am always very positive about using social media and it has, in many ways, helped me to promote my collection and has led me to many different and good opportunities. Even though it can create a sense of insecurity that “others might be stealing your work,” I still see this as a motivation for myself to keep creating and to keep being innovative.
NM: Your love of textiles is extremely apparent in your thesis collection, when did you start experimenting in textile design?
HW: Beside Pattern making, which is my number one passion, I have always believed that textile is one of the most important elements to helping a designer or brand build their reputation. So, since I first started designing, I have always strived to create new and unique textiles. Hopefully, one day people can recognize my brand by my signature textile just like Chanel with its tweed, Bottega Veneta with its leather weave, Burberry with its plaid, and so on.
NM: When we last spoke you said that you wanted to explore not just womenswear but accessories and menswear, as well. How do you intend to do this?
HW: I will start with womenswear, women’s accessories and, similar to what Gucci and Givenchy are doing right now, mix in menswear here and there. After 2-3 years, when the business becomes stronger and more steady, I will separate the menswear from the women’s and start another line for it.
NM: Do you have any advice for design students as they start thinking about their own thesis collections?
HW: Listen more to yourself- be confident in what you want your collection to look like from the very beginning and try to be unique and different from what has already been done.
NM: What is next for you?
HW: I would like to start my own brand and design clothing and accessories for empowered, inspiring, and beautiful women around the world.