“Fashion seems to express the emotions that I am not good at expressing and allows me to tell stories through clothes and people,” Apu Jan.
APUJAN is the London-based womenswear label established in 2013 that uses the juxtaposition between contemporary staples and traditional and oriental elements to create a world of fantasy and imagination. Designer Apu Jan uses woven and knitted fabrics to create not only influential clothing but inspiring stories.
Since its inception nine years ago, the APUJAN brand has been featured in some of fashion’s most notable magazines, including Vogue, ELLE, GQ, Bazaar and WALLPAPER. And this season, the brand’s Autumn – Winter 2022, ‘The Ballad of a Story Keeper’, collection was presented at London Fashion Week’s digital event.
‘The Ballad of a Story Keeper’ collection is the sequel to APUJAN’s previous collection, which paid homage to the sci-fi world and fantasy stories. This time around, the Tawainese designer tells the story of a spy whose mission is to retrieve the proof of the existence of the world’s manuscript and embark on adventures through time.
To celebrate APUJAN’s London Fashion Week event, Chapter Z took the opportunity to speak with the designer about how fashion helps him express difficult emotions and what sets his creations apart from the crowd.
In Conversation with APUJAN:
Let’s start right at the beginning. How did you discover fashion? What about the creativity of designing struck a chord with you?
I’ve always liked to read and watch art-related creations since I was little. However, I wasn’t very good at expressing myself back then. But, once I began to study fabrics and clothing and research their changes through history, I then stepped into the field of fashion design.
I like designing something that starts from a specific source. Fashion seems to express the emotions that I am not good at expressing and allows me to tell stories through clothes and people.
Are there any rules that you stick to when it comes to fashion and designing?
I always start from the theme story and think about the relationship between clothing and people and what message it can convey. Although I like various types of fabric experiments, they exist for the suitability of the message and clothing; they’re only an auxiliary.
What do you think it is about your designs that appeals to people? What sets you apart?
Maybe it’s the emotions, the hidden messages and those mysterious fantasy images. Our clothes won’t cover up the original personality of the person; they send a silent but firm signal.
Your Autumn Winter 2022 collection will be presented at London Fashion Week this year. You’ve stated the theme of the collection is “The Ballad of a Story Keeper”. Could you explain to me more about the collection and its inspiration?
APUJAN continues the style of a sci-fi overhead world to launch the latest season of fashion series, ‘The Ballad of A Story Keeper’. It’s a fashion show from different perspectives and focuses on a spy who wants to retrieve the proof of the existence of the world’s manuscript. She travels through different scenes and goes on adventures with the various characters she meets. In addition to the fantasy colours and settings of the brand, inspiration comes from science fiction, classical literature and spy novels. The spy is also inspired by the concept of intelligence agents because she’s integrated into different environments and needs to constantly change into different shapes. The people who appear in different situations also exist at different times with different styles.
As a designer, how important are the stories behind your collections and the themes they portray?
I think it is the starting point of everything. We always think about the theme story before we design for a specific collection. Each story is closely related to the previous season and the next season. Then, as we decide on the story, we develop everything from the clothing style, jacquard printing, totem, music, video to the makeup and hairstyling. From the story, we can develop a set of ten to five hundred pieces.
Where do you look for creative inspiration?
The stories I imagined came from a lot of readings, the messages and emotions I wanted to convey, and a lot of simultaneous experiments with knitted and woven fabrics.
How, if at all, does your personal fashion differ or compare to your designs?
My own clothes are mainly for work convenience. I wear formal attire to attend events, but I usually wear black T-shirts or shirts and sneakers. I still hope to present a sense of style, but it’s mainly about the convenience for activities and I think many designers are the same.
And finally, can you describe APUJAN in three words?
Fantasy image, time-lapse, allusions.