CHIAHUNG SU Designer Interview vol.2
The Roots of Creation and the 24SS Collection
March 28, 2024

Designer interviews that focus on the philosophy of the makers and get behind the scenes of their creations.
This time, we took time to interview Mr. Chia-Hung Su, designer of the Taiwanese brand CHIAHUNG SU, which is handled by FASCINATE_THE R.
In the first part of this interview, we asked him about the background to the launch of the brand and the concept of the brand.

Chia Hung Su

After learning the basics of dressmaking in Taiwan, he worked for several years in custom-made men's suits before moving to England to study menswear design at the London College of Fashion, where he earned a master's degree in fashion design technology.
In 2020, he founded his own eponymous brand, which debuted at the London Collections.

Based in FASCINATE_THE R, he works in the store as a sales associate and as a media editor.

A commitment to expression that lies at the heart of our creative work

--- Your collection is known for its unique fabrics.

The main fabric I use is handwoven by the Tayal, an indigenous people of Taiwan.

They plant, harvest, bleach, twist, and weave the fabric using ancient techniques and old machinery, all by hand.

The weaving knowledge is passed down among Tayal women, so the specifics of how it's made aren't shared with me.

Instead, we discuss what kind of fabric I want, including the weave and pattern, and work from there.

Only about 16 people can weave these fabrics, and some fabrics can only be made at a rate of 2.5 cm per hour.

I love the traditional weaving patterns, the uniqueness, and the visible handwork and history in the fabric.

--- Do you go to the site for direct interaction?

Their living area is in the mountains from northern to central Taiwan, quite far, but I always go there for discussions about fabric production.

Seeing the fabric and yarn samples in person and discussing techniques and changes is crucial, as it's challenging to make decisions remotely.

Direct communication is essential for understanding each other better.

--- What do you consider when choosing fabrics?

All fabrics are made originally, and I decide based on a match in values and understanding with the producers.

It's about whether they empathize with what we want to create and agree with our ideas.

--- Your brand is also known for its distinctive colors. How are they created?

Our team includes two dedicated dyeing artisans, and all dyeing is done in our atelier.

Color creation is a delicate process; slight differences in dye mix, number of dyeing sessions, and soaking time can result in significant color variations.

The source of materials and seasons can also affect even the same materials differently.

Maintaining supply and the weeks it can take from preparing materials to starting production often present challenges.

--- The muted tones are a signature as well.

These tones are characteristic of natural dyeing.

While we've made vibrant colors, they are incredibly challenging.

However, there's a tradition in Chinese-speaking regions of wearing such colors for the Lunar New Year, so there's a cultural aspect.

--- How do you approach color creation?

It requires a lot of experimentation and, undoubtedly, more time.

However, I believe the shades achieved through natural dyeing processes are exactly what I'm looking for, making it worth continuing.

We keep all the recipes from our tests, which are vital for creation and are a treasure for our brand.

--- Can you tell us about the theme of your 24SS collection?

It expresses the process up to today, where the unique cultures and styles of Taiwan, Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, brought by immigrants to Taiwan about 200 years ago, mixed and fused together.

That time was a turning point, bringing diverse cultures to this country through active migration.

--- What inspired you to choose this theme?

The fundamental inspiration comes from studying the original sources of Taiwanese culture.

This season, we focused on exploring how the cultures and historie of various ethnic groups have changed.

--- How did you incorporate the ancient styles of various countries' indigenous people into the designs?

Typical aspects include styles tied with strings instead of buttons and linings made from vintage fabrics.

We also explore fabric textures and use dyes made from herbs used in ancient Chinese medicine, modernizing these styles while retaining their historical nuances.

--- What kind of dyes do you use?

We use the most traditional dyes made from local organic herbs and plants from farms, like madder, pomegranate bark, ink bark, mahogany, and guava leaves.

The oldest records of these dyes go back 400 years.

We've also translated Japanese documents for reference on dyes and techniques.

--- What stands out to you in creating new collections?

The indigenous people enjoy their traditional lifestyles and are relaxed and free-spirited, so fabric orders often come in just in time.

We developed handwoven fabrics in Italy this time.

Though they were initially worried about losing their jobs, now the finishes are quick.

Our relationship with them will continue, and there's no worry about that.

The knit shirts made from indigenous fabrics are my favorite because they're soft and wearable anytime.

---How do you plan to develop your brand in the future?

Thankfully, the number of stores carrying our products is increasing, and I feel the quality of each season's creations is getting more inquired.

I believe we need to improve the quality of our creations from season to season while finding joy in growth each year without changing our philosophy or core.

--- What do you want to convey through your brand in the future?

We aim to preserve the cultures of minorities, historical heritages, and vanishing craftsmanship for future generations, creating garments that express the historical spirit and stories of Taiwan.

We hope people from various countries, regardless of gender or age, will wear our creations, allowing them to experience the traditional techniques and culture of Taiwan firsthand.

---Thank you very much for your long time with us this time.