The learning curve
HOMEHIGHLIGHT ▸ The learning curve
Winning the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) in 2016 sent Kenneth Cheung on an accelerated learning curve with a three-month internship at Tokyo streetwear brand FACETASM.

Graduating from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a BA in Knitwear Design and Technology in 2014, designer Kenneth Cheung loves to experiment with new textiles and technology in his collections. His label KHOCHEUNG, debuted in 2014 for a collaboration with JOYCE Boutique, Machine-A and SHOWstudio but later took a hiatus. A new KHOCHEUNG collection is currently in development and will be launched for this year’s Autumn/Winter season.

“I like to come up with new forms and textures, and knitwear allows me more room for experimentation in this regard. It is easier to control in production and it also fascinates me to see how one thread can lead to so many different textures depending on how you handle it,” says Cheung. His upcoming collection will be a continuation of what he’s been doing since YDC 2016 –experimenting with different embroidery and patchwork techniques on basic wool suiting fabrics, and giving the finished garments a sportswear twist.

As a YDC winner, Cheung got to spend three months interning at FACETASM, a Tokyo-based Japanese fashion label that’s steadily building a global presence. It turned out to be an eye-opening experience – and Cheung had to hit the ground running.“Straight away I was thrust into preparing for the runway show in Paris. When we arrived in Paris the week after, it was even more frantic. I was helping the production manager with alterations and final touch ups, and since two boxes didn’t arrive until two days before the show, we were working on the clothes just before they hit the runway. It was intense!,” he recalls.

After the show, Cheung also helped out at the trade show, arranging visual display and learning about business negotiations along the way. Back in Japan, he had time to familiarise himself with the business. “FACETASM is an independent designer label where the designer is also the owner. Most Hong Kong designers are in a similar situation so it was helpful to learn how their business was structured. Everyone there was so generous and willing to share, even with our language barrier. I threw out all the Japanese phrases I learned from watching J-drama as a kid, and they were very appreciative. It was as much a cultural exchange as a professional one,” he says.

During his time at FACETASM, Cheung  struck up a close relationship with the production manager as he worked with him the most. Spending time in the Japanese capital also gave him the idea to have his collections made in Japan. “It will be difficult but I’m collecting information on suppliers and mills to see if it’s possible.”

Kenneth’s inspiring journey began when he submitted his application for YDC. As the 2017 contest is now open for application (Deadline: April 10), he advises aspiring designers to work extra hard on their submission.

“The first thing you aim for is to be in the final, so the mood boards and sketches are very important. The judges only have these to form their opinion, so you should be as detailed as possible in your descriptions. They also need to be convinced that your idea is realistic so you need to give them that confidence,” he says.

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