Berlin Fashion Week is often touted as the next influential fashion capital to join the ranks of New York and London, and perhaps that’s because of brand-savvy, forward-thinking designers like William Fan. After completing his studies at the Berlin Weissensee college, Fan took his graduate fashion collection to the runway at Berlin Fashion Week—a bold move that garnered the attention of buyers and press. Now, Fan has racked up stocklists (like Stylebop) and expanded his brand to include shoes, housewares and even furniture. It’s an impressive feat for a young designer who still falls under the category of “up-and-coming.” Here, Fan discusses the inspiration behind his latest collection and why genderless dressing might be the way of the future.
How did you go about staging your graduate runway at during Berlin Fashion Week?
“I graduated at the end of 2014 and I wanted to give my final project some more meaning utilize my first collection in a bigger setting. So I decided to give Mercedes Benz a call and asked if they were interested in supporting a young graduate. After their prompt response, me and my young and still inexperienced team had four weeks to prepare the show. Everything was new, I felt a little overwhelmed. But in the end we just tried to make the best out of it. We got a lot of positive feedback from the press and a few days later we send out our first orders [to retailers].”
Is the Berlin fashion scene growing? Is there room for emerging labels to succeed?
“The Berlin fashion scene has changed a lot since I started my own business. Now, there are new platforms for upcoming designers like for example Der Berliner Mode Salon or Fashion Council Germany.”
William Fan’s spring 2017 collection
What does it take to stand out as a brand?
“You need to develop a truly honest and personal brand DNA. Today it’s very important to [add] your own personality into your work that the customers should see and feel. Last but not least the designs should be enduring and sustainable.”
Your clothes don’t rely on standard gender codes. Is fashion as a whole moving into a more genderless direction?
“Yes, indeed. For me, this concept wasn’t just made up to make a trendy statement. Designing unisex fashion feels natural to me because this is and has always been me since the very beginning. I never differentiated gender roles and always picked the styles I liked whether the came from the men’s or women’s department. In general I can see that the market is changing and fashion is more tolerant than ever.”
Tell me about your Fall 2017 collection.
“The name of the collection is Afternoon Stories. It’s a continuation of my last two collections. It’s all about a place where different characters and dynamics mingle and continue their daily routine—Chinatown. This collection is experimental, noisy and colourful. The silhouettes become wider and larger. We used materials like velver, teddy fabric, Chinese silk brocade and PVC.”
You’ve also branched out into furniture, pottery and accessories. Did you always see your brand beyond clothing? What’s exciting to you about exploring these other areas of design?
“I don’t see my company as a generic fashion label but more as an all-encompassing brand. For the SS2017 we worked together with little furniture manufactures based in Berlin but also with potteries in Marrakesh. It felt so inspiring to amplify my designs with ordinary items like spoons. Creating some kind of a William-Fan-world aside from the typical bonds to accessories and shoes or also cosmetics is my ideal. I hope to integrate the feeling of a William Fan product into ordinary daily-life things.”
William Fan is available at Stylebop.