INTERVIEW: D E S I G N E R - S T E V E N T A I
Steven Tai is a Canadian fashion designer based in the UK. His brand is known for its endearing take of the awkward yet quirky girl. Tai develops pieces with unconventional techniques and refreshing silhouettes with a unique blend of luxury and comfort.
Did you always know that you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
Not at all! I grew up around a garment manufacturing factory, so I always associated clothing with work but as a kid it felt very dull to me at the time. It wasn't until I was in high school and university that I became intrigued with clothing. Especially in how the language of dress created different socio-groups and cliques.
After studying business in Canada, I realized I wanted to work in a creative industry and was fortunate enough to be introduced to a friend who studied at Central Saint Martins. It was then I decided to pursue a career in fashion.
Where do you usually look for inspiration when designing a new line?
I tend to reflect upon the experience of those surrounding me and myself. I'm interested in the attitude and emotion of our generation and conveying these feelings through the pieces I create. From there, I research various artists in modern art, which helps inspires the seasonal textiles and direction.
What is your favorite piece of clothing that you designed for the SS16 collection?
There are a couple of pieces that can be considered my favorite in SS16. One would definitely be the Worst Day Ever t-shirt. I feel that it is simple as well as easy to wear. It also bears the brand’s core DNA, which is something like a slightly humorous look at pessimism and general day- to-day awkwardness.
Another favorite piece from the collection would be the Gathered Weave Panel Coat. The technique we developed with the sheer silk that is woven in alternating colors after each stripe is hand cut and baby-locked, reflecting the textile driven passion I have. The ruffles add volume and life, making the coat feel light and airy when worn - something perfect for a breezy summer’s evening.
What part of the design process do you find to be the most challenging?
I think the balance between design and accessibility is one of the trickiest things for young designers, including myself. The need to infuse the brand’s DNA while making sure it stands out amongst the plethora of talented designers while also maintaining commercial success is one of the toughest things to do.
What's the most valuable thing you learned this year?
I think there has been a lot of introspection this year. I learned a lot about management and how to communicate effectively to my staff and people around me. Language can be tricky and often of times people can misinterpret words based on their own history and circumstances.
What are you currently watching on Netflix?
I am obsessed with House of Cards Season 4 at the moment. But I am desperately waiting for the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 to return!
What song is stuck in your head at the moment?
Talking Head’sThis Must Be The Place
Where is your dream place to live?
On an island where New York, London, Zurich, and Vancouver are placed next to each other.
What is a fashion trend that you wish would come back in style?
A modern take on wearing t-shirts over a long sleeve shirt! It reminds me so much of the 90s rock and roll days.
What is your most worn item in your closet?
A Stella McCartney coat I bought when I interned there. The in-house seamstress helped me turn the button placket into a menswear coat. To this day, I consistently wear it every single day 6 months out of the year.