KaDeWe’s “Vote for Fashion” Winner William Fan Talks China Town, Berlin and Alexander McQueen

William Fan won the Vote For Fashion prize with a collection focused on "A universal wardrobe, eurasian aesthetics and a lot of humour". Here, he tells SLEEK about his inspirations, and what comes next.

For the fifth year running, KaDeWe offered one fledgling designer the chance to be stocked in their world-renowned store via the “Vote for Fashion” competition. Along with Vogue Deutschland and Der Berliner Mode Salon, KaDeWe exhibited the hopefuls in the Women’s Designer section of their store, timing the contest to coincide with Berlin Fashion Week. This year’s competition also had an added edge. This year’s contest had an audience award; the general public could vote by heading in store and deciding which of the selected designers deserved the coveted spot. After weeks of voting, the people chose their champion: German designer and Alexander McQueen alumnus William Fan.

“Biography is the main theme in my work,” he told SLEEK. In his old collections and winning designs for KaDaWe alike, it’s clear that Fan’s Hong Kong heritage is the anchoring of his eponymous brand. “It was all about China Town and the myth behind it”, the designer said of his latest collection. “It’s a fictional image Chinese people create to build up an extreme image of the Asian culture”. With items like a sea-green boyfriend coat and a beige jumper proudly emblazoned with an embroidered 3D rose, the collection appeals to the masses whilst staying true to his original ethos. Fan finds inspiration in many aspects of his life. “The first picture I had on my mood board was a window with Beijing ducks in the display,” he affirmed. Heritage formed the foundation for the designs, which were built upon by exploring the theme of workwear and uniforms. “It doesn’t matter if it’s hospital gear, waitress costumes, or pilot suits, I feel very attracted by simple working clothes”, Fan elaborated. The William Fan brand is simple and takes great care in detail. His KaDeWe collection is no different, maintaining the three elements most integral to his work: “A universal wardrobe, eurasian aesthetics and a lot of humour”.

“Designer meets department store” is an idea which seldom leads to innovation; luckily, this is not the case here. “Vote for Fashion” acts as a platform for emerging designers in a city which is commercially viable but lacks any proper fashion infrastructure. Berlin is known for being stylish, hedonistic, and a place where anything goes. Yet despite the international repute of its fashion week, very few Berlin designers get time of day in the international market, or the leg-up they need to break into the business. With the wealth of young people flocking to Berlin from all over the world, Berlin feels ready to take on the challenges of becoming a notable “fashion city,” and this competition is a step in the right direction. Fan agreed. “KaDeWe offers you a lot of precious space and places your brand in the right environment…KaDeWe helps me to have more visibility to a new target group”.

For Fan, there’s more to Berlin than meets the eye. “It doesn’t inspire me much on a visual level, but more on a spiritual one. It’s a hidden beauty with a lot of secrets and calmness, which I appreciate”. As well as the influences from his childhood and the spirituality of the city, he takes further inspiration from his time spent working at Alexander McQueen. “It inspired me to tell stories with fashion,” he reminisces. “It’s not only the garment which makes the magic around a brand. It’s the whole presentation and vision which makes you feel emotional and euphoric”.

To see if Fan’s collection evokes the same feelings in you, get down to Berlin’s KaDaWe store on Tauentzienstraße while stocks last.

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