Fashion Giant Speaks: Peter Wong
HOMEHIGHLIGHT ▸ Fashion Giant Speaks: Peter Wong
By Peter Wong; English Translation by FASHIONALLY

We are honoured to invite YDC 2019 judge Peter Wong, Editorial Director of Vogue Hong Kong, to share his viewpoints on Hong Kong fashion and YDC.

I first came into fashion when I started working for a magazine in 1988. At that time, Hong Kong’s economy was growing rapidly, so everything else in society was thriving with it. Hong Kong gradually became one of the world’s fashion capitals, as more international brands set up shop here, making it an important base in Asia alongside Japan. While getting to know more about international designers, I started paying attention to Hong Kong designers.

The best-known Hong Kong designer at the time was Ragence Lam. He had his own boutique in Hong Kong and also had a presence overseas. I learned from him that there was a young designers’ competition in Hong Kong that had been running for many years. And that was Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC), first held in 1977, the year in which Lam was the champion.

That was how YDC came to be on my radar. A few years ago, YDC was moved from the beginning of the year to September. It became the finale of CENTRESTAGE, which means it receives more attention as September is the beginning of the fashion season. From individuals to the media, the focus is very much on fashion this month.

Perhaps because I was involved in launching Vogue Hong Kong, I was fortunate to receive many invitations to judge at different fashion competitions this year. I felt most honoured to be judging at YDC. It’s Hong Kong’s longest-running young designers’ competition and receives the most entries from design students and young working designers. YDC reflects how the current generation understands fashion, and their hopes and aspirations.

What I enjoyed most during the backstage judging process was that afternoon when I was in a room in the HKCEC, and examined the works of the 16 finalists. As a journalist, I always like to meet creative people, ask them about their ideas, and try to understand their attitudes and values towards creative work, their lifestyle and life in general. In that room on 7 September, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon. Even if I had to stand for more than two hours, I wasn’t tired, and time flew. In the blink of an eye, the finalists had to pack up and head backstage to prepare for the show.

The only regret was that there was no live model on the scene to showcase the designs. After all, clothes are worn by people and to see someone walk around in them is the only way to see their true essence. Fortunately, in the evening, we could finally see models present these works on the catwalk and observe how the designers’ ideas came to life. It gave me the chance to decide if the concepts put forth by the designers could really be implemented.

The YDC 2019 finalists had some strong personal viewpoints. Apart from being passionate about fashion and design, many completed detailed research into production techniques, including weaving and knitting methods. The Champion, Wilson Yip, who also won the Best Footwear Award, uses airwash, an environmentally-friendly method to create the prints on his clothes. He has the right idea about sustainability and fashion.

From the finalists and their collections, we can understand the issues that the new generation of designers are facing. Fashion offers one of the best tools to gauge current ideologies and people’s way of life. It is very rare for something like the YDC to last for more than 40 years. To me, it’s one of Hong Kong’s most important creative events of the year. I’m now interested in taking a look back at YDC’s history. By sorting through designers’ concepts and styles through the years, a history of modern Hong Kong fashion can be compiled. It would be an interesting book with substantial content that would act as a great reference for years to come.

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