Conversation with ANAÏS JOURDEN

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Anais Mak founded ANAÏS JOURDEN in 2012 and has been dazzling the global fashion scene ever since.

Going from strength to strength with every season, ANAÏS JOURDEN was the only Hong Kong-based womenswear label to be featured on Paris Fashion Week’s AW18 calendar, after earning a coveted selection by The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. The designer has garnered acclaim worldwide: she was named winner of Vogue Italia’s “Who is on Next?” in 2015 and was a semi-finalist in the LVMH Prize in the same year. She also made the Forbes’ “30 under 30” list in 2017.

ANAÏS JOURDEN can be found at international retailers including Galeries Lafayette Beijing, ikram, JOYCE, Lane Crawford, Neiman Marcus and Shopbop.

She was one of two international designers featured at CENTRESTAGE Elites in September.

A: Anais Mak
F: Fashionally


F: What is the essence of fashion design to you?

A: It is a curiosity about people. Why do we wear certain kinds of clothes? What do people want? What is the mood of society right now? In addition to aesthetics, women also want to show a certain side of themselves to others. So what kind of clothing can give them confidence? I remember a story I heard from the LANVIN designer. His friend was driving to sign her divorce papers and called him in the car to tell him that she was wearing a dress that he’d designed. He said it was the greatest compliment because the dress made her feel free and beautiful. Divorce is not a happy thing, but clothes gave her the confidence she needed.

F: What advice do you have for young designers when it comes to following trends?

A: Following trends is not necessarily a negative thing, because you can learn a lot when you imitate. It is a phase that we must go through as we grow up. I’ve gone through many different stages, and sometimes I wanted to imitate my idols and was pushed to try many different things. As long as you stay passionate and curious, you will eventually find your voice.

F: What is your opinion on Hong Kong’s fashion industry?

A: I grew up here, so the feelings I have about Hong Kong certainly affect me. Hong Kong has been lucky in the sense that while we have high fashion, we also have the high street, plus important retailers like Lane Crawford. So, I feel like I can only assess Hong Kong’s fashion industry from different angles. Everyone is doing their best in different positions. I think my own fashion education started with going to Lane Crawford as a child.

F: How are you different from other Hong Kong fashion designers?

A: Maybe I am just more intent on making some beautiful clothes and don’t do something very conceptual.

F: How can a Hong Kong label be successful in the international market?

A: Don’t be too commercial. Treasure your incompleteness and imperfections. Independent brands don’t have the resources of major international companies, so don’t compare yourself. The imperfect voice is actually very beautiful. Try to hold on to this feeling and show it.

F: What is the future of fashion design?

Fashion is one of the world’s biggest industries. If you’re passionate, fashion can give you endless possibilities.

Anais Mak

F: What does it mean for you to show at Paris Fashion Week? And what is your plan for the future?

A: It’s a personal milestone. Paris Fashion Week is an aspiration. My idols are all showing there so if I can show there too, it’s the biggest confidence boost. But times are also changing, and very few people can access the Fashion Week, so we have to find other channels.

In March, I went to Shanghai Fashion Week’s Labelhood for the first time to do a show/presentation. It felt very different because it allowed us to engage young people and those who are curious about fashion. This kind of engagement is unique.

The world is changing, which makes me feel freer to pursue other things like music, not just fashion.

F: What is your brand’s biggest market?

A: The United States. I don’t really know why since I’ve never done a show in the US, and our showroom is in Paris. It might be because the US has a strong local market. There are many select shops in Europe and Asia, but they only have one, or a few, shops. In the US, there are many department stores that can buy in large quantities. This is good for us because we only need to deal with three or four big clients that have dozens of shops.

As for Mainland China, I will go to Shanghai to do a showroom event in July, where I hope to meet more customers.

F: What plans do you have in the coming year?

A: I hope that apart from working on my fashion brand, I will get to collaborate with musicians and photographers, and engage in different kinds of creative work
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