Exclusive Ziggy Chen Interview

Exclusive Ziggy Chen Interview

Welcome to our first LCM exclusive interview with no other than Ziggy Chen, the Chinese pioneer when it comes to modern artisanship. Together with this interview with Mr. Chen in Paris, we created an exclusive lookbook for SS23 Poetourney.


SS23 is the first season that you returned to Paris after the pandemic, and although the pandemic is still continuing in your native country. We would like to know what positive and negative impacts COVID-19 had on you as a human and your work as designer?

ZIGGY CHEN: When the epidemic started in January 2020, my team and I happened to be at Paris Fashion Week, and people started talking about the epidemic in the second half of the week, but at the time it was completely unthinkable that the pandemic would lead to four collections in the following two years being presented and ordered in a completely different way than before.

In the early days of the epidemic there was a sense of frustration and powerlessness facing a sudden change in lifestyle and work rhythms like never experienced before. The nature of our industry is that you have to deliver a new collection when the time comes, and before you can adjust from the pessimism, a new season has already begun. As the work unfolded and we received the new fabrics that the factories were struggling to produce in the face of difficulties, the positive emotions came back at once, and realized that everyone is trying to find a way to face an uncertain world of the epidemic.

During the almost three years of the epidemic, I think the most important thing for me was to learn to calm down and face it with grace, because life and work always go on, and at the same time it showed how fragile and strong we are as human beings.

In Paris at the end of September, after more than two years, our clients were once again able to touch and try on the new collection, It was beautiful to see everyone's smiles and to hug happily with friends again. 

Positive impact;

To face calmly, stabilize emotions and think about how to learn to live properly with nature

Negative impact:

Once doubted whether the fashion industry is meaningful, does the world really need so many clothes? Is there any meaning to the work?


In your work we see a lot of unique prints, taken from old photographs and deconstructed. Can you tell us more about your affiliation with photography and the usage of your photos as prints in your garments?

ZIGGY CHEN: Photographing interesting places and collecting old things are my interests. Before I make a pattern for a new season, I open my folder and look through the photos and some old objects I have collected, and these photos give me some ideas, usually mixing things that are not related to each other and somehow making them fit together. I like the beauty of natural formations, maybe a wall in an old house, or a worn-out fabric and paper, etc.  All the beautiful elements can be put together.


Your work is known for its tremendous amount of attention to details, and from a construction & deconstruction perspective, you are in our opinion the leading designer in the industry. Never have we seen so many details in constructions as in your work. Where does this passion for constructions come from?

ZIGGY CHEN: First of all, I don’t think the term like a leading designer is suitable, because in the long history of fashion, there are many designers who are good at deconstruction and many designers who pay attention to details, I don't consider myself as the best, but I am still in the process of trying to form my own language.

In terms of aesthetics, I am well aware of my own preference, I like imperfection and even what tends to be considered ugly by many people. Naturally there are various attempts in the process of exploring my own design language, trying to be as extreme as possible, within the allowed range of making cost, of course. I don't feel that there is much reasoning or backstory behind doing this, simply aesthetic preference and intuition dictate much of the approach. Also having too many series full of details can create a sense of fatigue, so it is better to strike the right balance.


The inside beauty of Ziggy Chen. One of the remarkable things about your work is that just as much effort is used on the inside as the outside of a Ziggy Chen garment. Hence, we see many reversible garments in your collection. Can you talk about your inspiration to also incorporate beauty from the inside in your creations?

ZIGGY CHEN: The initial idea was just to make the clothes fun, and did not think it could be flipped, just expecting the wearer to have a private relationship with the clothes, some details are not to show to other people, just to satisfy the wearer. Like a fetish, such as my own love for some products, such as well-crafted vintage cameras, beautiful wine bottles, well-made traditional speakers, etc.. For the view of wearing clothes, it is probably good to make people look stylish, but perhaps also to make clothes and the person wearing them produce a special emotion.


How do you feel like you have changed over the years as a designer (this can be mentally or as creative)?

ZIGGY CHEN: Change is constant, as the larger environment has always influenced everyone in a subtle way. Over the years, I myself have slowly become more and more moderate, both in character and emotionally. I have gradually become more and more light-hearted about many things, but the only thing I have become more and more clear and focused about is my aesthetic preferences.


We know that you showcased a runway for the Decoster Concept back in 2012. Are we ever going to see a runway show from you again, this time for Ziggy Chen?

ZIGGY CHEN: When the time is right we definitely will.


About Spring Summer '23 Poetourney

Your latest collection shows another side of Ziggy Chen. Not only with the debut of womenswear and footwear, but also in the collection that appears more muted to us, than the previous collections.

In fact, the Autumn/Winter 22 collection was the first time we made shoes, and we finished our own basic shoe lasts in this collection to lay the foundation for the development of the shoe collection afterwards, while in the Pre-Autumn 22 collection ( INTERLUDE I ), we also attempted to make women's wear for the first time, redeveloping fabrics and making patterns only for women's wear, which was considered to be a trial and learning for the women's wear collection afterwards. So technically, SS23 wasn’t the first season we developed shoes and women’s wear.

As compared to the previous collections, SS23 had a lot of convergence in design, as I mentioned before, I was feeling a sense of aesthetic fatigue, and the influences from the environment on me. In the next collection, I will explore something new and hopefully give some new excitement.


Can you talk about your latest work in SS23 Poetourney? What was your meaning behind the collection?

Before starting to work on this collection, I experienced the two and a half months long pandemic regulation in Shanghai, the most important work at home every day is to cook, very serious cooking, clothes become so unimportant, at that time in my heart there is a strong desire for a simple, quality and healthy lifestyle, and a yearning to return to nature, keeping the right balance on everything, comfort and health are so important. As the lockdown ended, I was finally back in the office, then I overturned the previous idea for the 22AW design ideas, and shifted to a simpler direction, with a more simple combination of materials.


Ever since your departure from Deconster Concept and the debut of your eponymous label in 2012, we were curious to see what Womenswear would be like under Ziggy Chen. Now you have debuted women’s pieces into the collection after almost a decade of designing under your namesake label. Can you briefly talk about the decision to add womenswear and why you added it specifically in this collection? 

ZIGGY CHEN: In fact, we have always had the idea of exploring women's wear, but before we tried, we still put all our efforts on men's wear. Only 2 – 3 years ago, when we thought we have laid a good foundation for men’s wear, from the way we handle materials to making patterns, we started to think about women’s wear collection, for which we needed some time to experiment with materials and shapes.

In the first interlude collection, we developed a few pieces of fabric base suitable for women's wear and tried some women’s shape to better understand the right sizing, the response from our customers was quite good, but also let us see the problem. Because of the pandemic, we postponed the 23SS sales campaign to the end of September for the women's fashion week. Since we are at the women's fashion week for the first time, our team thought that we might as well make a small women's collection to see the response.


We know that there are many differences in designing mens and womenswear, especially in the construction. Yet you managed to create symbiose in the mens and womens collection. What did your design process look like for this collection? Did you first work on menswear and then added womenswear? Or were both created at the same time?

ZIGGY CHEN: In terms of fabric selection, I try to choose fabrics that can be used by both men and women, and I also consider the colors from the perspective of commonalities between men and women.

Apart from the body structure, the biggest difference is the way to express masculinity and femininity, this is the most important point to consider, while other aspects will not much time because the material, pattern and process are also thought around the most basic principle.


Besides womenswear, you also worked on footwear this season. Can you talk more about the Moccasin Derby and what your inspiration was behind this?

ZIGGY CHEN: For me, making shoes is something that is done with an attitude of learning. Last season, the focus was on developing the last, finding a shoe shape that meets the brand's aesthetic, which is subtle without losing its personality and not too exaggerated. This season, we want to make shoes with characteristics on this last, and we will redevelop some traditional classic shoes on this last one after another, that's the general idea.

Photography: Ruben Hilkens.