Interview with designer Steven Tai

Interview with designer Steven Tai


Interview with designer Steven Tai –






A self-professed bookworm, Vancouver-born Steven Tai’s unique blend of intellect and irony presents a refreshingly new take on the woman who stands confidently apart from the mainstream. With a BA in Fashion Design from London’s Central St Martins, Steven worked at top design houses including Viktor & Rolf and Stella McCartney before debuting his own label in 2012. His quirky collection of innovative textiles combined with a celebration of the awkward caught the eye of Yohji Yamamoto, who awarded him the inaugural Chloe award at the 2012 Hyères Festival. With a sponsorship offer by Mercedes-Benz, he went on to present this collection at Berlin Fashion Week in July 2012 where he received international recognition for his self-confident and endearing take on the nerd. Since then, Steven Tai has continued to amass a strong following, making his mark at New York Fashion Week in September 2013, presenting at Vogue Italia’s “Vogue Talents” exhibition in Milan, being a finalist for the prestigious ANDAM Award in 2014 and showcasing SS15 collection in Dubai as part of Vogue’s Dubai Fashion Experiance.

1 When and how you decided that you wanted to be a designer?

Actually I never thought that I wanted to become a designer when I was kid, it was only when I was in University in Vancouver, where I was studying business that I realised I wanted to work on something a bit more creative. At that time I was introduced to Central Saint Martins by a friend and I decided to apply.

2 It was your dream job?

I have to say it is. I like to mix of being creative and analytical about the industry. The job is extremely varied and I like the diversity. At least I am never bored!

3 Which is the first thing you designed and for who ?

I was working on my portfolio to get into Central Saint Martins and I made a stripe cotton dress for a friend of mine. It was very naive but I was so excited to have made my first garment.

4 Who’s the designer you admire the most and why?

I admire both Jun Takahashi and Miuccia Prada equally because although their products are very different, they both take something unfamiliar or strange and translate it into something so beautiful and believable.

5 Who’s your muse, your icon, when you create a dress?

I think it is a mixture of Elle Fanning, Napoleon Dynamite, Miranda Sings and Daria.

6 If you had to design an entire collection using just one colour, which is the one you’d pick and why?

White. Because it feels fresh in the summer and crisp in the winter.

7 Who’s the first person you show your sketches to?

My team.

8 The fabric you love the most…silk, lace, velvet and why?

I love cotton. It is very diverse and flexible for different climates. It can be thick like corduroys in our aw16 collection or thin like cotton voile. It is extremely comfortable and easy to manipulate which is crucial for us as we experiment with fabrications so much.

9 If your clothes had a soundtrack, which songs you’d choose?

Lemon Jelly – Space Walk

10 Do you have any trick to avoid that “blank page” moment when you’re at the beginning of the designing of a new collection? Do you watch a movie, flip an old magazine…

Most of the time, a new collection idea begins to manifest itself before the last collection is finished. So luckily, I don’t tend to have too many blank moments. But I do find that I get most inspired when I am at the CSM library, or when I am in the shower!

11 If you weren’t a designer which job in the fashion world you would like to do and why?

I would love to be a PA or the visual director of a brand. I think being a personal assistant is extremely high stress and demanding at all hours. Which I think matches my current position and seems like I will get into a lot of ridiculous yet funny situations. As a visual director, I think it is more my love for creating images and stories. I think it is really another way to communicate a vision which I think ultimately, it is something I would always want to do.