The story appears on

Page B2

January 31, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » People

Exquisite style from Taiwan seamstress

BORN in a small town in Taiwan, Wang Chen Tsai-Shia started her fashion career as a seamstress in a clothing store where she met her husband, the son of the owner.

In 1978, the couple left their hometown for Taipei where they opened the first Shiatzy Chen store. Today, the brand has become one of the most successful homegrown fashion brands in Taiwan.

In 2001, Shiatzy Chen launched a flagship store in Paris on Rue Saint Honore, the well-known luxury shopping street near the Louvre. It is also the only Chinese designer store among all the other international fashion houses on that street.

Since 2008, Shiatzy Chen has attended Paris Fashion Week and most recently became the only Chinese member of the French Fashion Federation.

Founder/design director Wang Chen blends Eastern and Western fashion senses into her clothes. They are crafted in Western cuts, in top-quality brocade and silk developed by the company, with exquisite, hand-stitching craftsmanship like embroidery, appliques and beading.

Wang Chen was in Shanghai recently to attend the annual Elle Style Award.

She was awarded "Chinese Designer of the Year" and talked to Shanghai Daily about the brand, her latest collection inspired by traditional Chinese calligraphy and the Hope schools she helped build for poor children in the rural areas of the country.

Q: Chinese elements are being used by more and more fashion designers. As an established Chinese designer, what is your understanding of using these elements in fashion design?

A: When I first started the brand, I used a lot of traditional Chinese elements, such as the Mandarin collar and the Ingot sleeves, in my design. At first, people found them interesting but soon they got bored because it was hard to wear such designs together with other modern clothes. They were not practical.

A successful fashion brand should always keep up with the times, stay appealing while having your own "spirit." The brand spirit for Shiatzy Chen is "neo-Chinese chic," which transfers historical Chinese aesthetics into modern fashion design.

Chinese elements are everywhere. Nowadays I pick up one of them each season as my inspiration for the new collection. Some that I have used recently include traditional Chinese calligraphy, Chinese porcelain works and the Silk Road.

Q: What made you decide to launch fashion shows in Paris Fashion Week? We know that it can be very expensive.

A: Paris is the City of Fashion. Bringing Shiatzy Chen to Paris Fashion Week had been my dream as a designer for decades. I'm glad I finally made it come true.

For a long time, I have been trying very hard to create a Chinese brand that is recognized by the international fashion world. I want to show the world how beautiful Chinese fashion can be.

Q: We noticed that your recent collections have become younger and sweeter. Are you targeting a younger generation of customers?

A: Like I said, you have to keep up with the times. I always try to keep a young heart. Fortunately, I work with young people every day and learn new trends and thoughts. I hope that more young customers will realize and appreciate the beauty of Shiatzy Chen.

Q: Who are your favorite fashion designers? Why?

A: I love designs by Yohji Yamamoto and Commes des Garcons. They make you feel peaceful from the bottom of the heart.

Q: What is your development plan for Shiatzy Chen, both in and outside China?

A: Besides the Paris boutique, we have more than 40 stores in Taiwan, three in Hong Kong, two in Macau and nine on the Chinese mainland. We have also launched our mainland headquarters and factory in Shanghai. We definitely plan to open more stores in China. This year, we will expand the business to Japan and South Korea.

Q: You and your brand have been involved in many charity events. Most recently you have set up a Hope School for poor children in Liu'an, Anhui Province. How did the idea of opening the school come to you?

A: I came from a poor family. When I finished primary school, I didn't have the chance to go to middle school. Fortunately, I learned how to sew and managed to survive and even start my own business. However, nowadays, things have changed. Having a college diploma has become a basic requirement to find a job.

In 2008, the first Shiatzy Chen Hope School was set up in Pinbian, Yunnan Province. I plan to donate a Hope School every year so that every child will have the opportunity to go to school.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend