HOMEHIGHLIGHT ▸ Inspired by her father, fashion designer Venus Lo turns the broken and discarded into streetwise menswear

“I don’t know about your dad, but my dad is quiet and doesn’t talk much, just like me I suppose,’ says up and coming fashion designer Venus Lo. “He wouldn’t say much, but he would hoard and bring all these broken and useless items into our home, which would infuriate my mom and I.”

But Lo’s attitude changed about her dad when he got sick. Irritation was replaced by empathy. “I wanted to try and understand why he would hoard all these items, ‘ says Lo. “After some research, I found that hoarders are usually older people, who have lost social connections. In a way, the items they keep represent social relationships. I thought this was a good starting point and inspiration for my collection.”

Lo, then started thinking about using materials that people discarded, and repurposing it into something cool and meaningful much like the way her dad did. And throughout this process, the father-daughter relationship improved and strengthened. “He would start messaging me images of certain items and explain its significance. We both opened up and started sharing," she says.

Last year, as part of New York Fashion Week, Lo presented her Parsons' MFA graduate knitwear collection appropriately titled ‘Hoarders’. The menswear collection was heavy, exaggerated, shredded, yet tailored looked a little bit like a stylish, streetwise fisherman was caught in an unlucky thunderstorm. Vogue.com called it: “a crafty plastic-meets-workwear collection with clothes frilling and fraying”. Lo expressed that Margiela is her all time favourite designer and it showed in her aesthetic.

Lo has evolved a lot since her time at the Hong Kong Design Institute and participating at the Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC). First of all, she switched from womenswear to menswear, or what she would rather characterise as clothes for gender queer people. “I always found it difficult to buy clothes for small girls like me. So, what I’m looking forward to is making clothes that are like mini-sized menswear but still based on workwear,” says Lo.

Secondly, Lo has now found her focus, which stems from inspirations relating to personal relationships and conversations affecting society as a whole. "I'm not someone who gets inspired by a film or an artwork or anything like that, but more from the interactions around me. I’m still going to find ways to incorporate discarded fabrics into my collections to be part of that narrative,” she says.

Don’t mistake her for a sustainable designer though. “I think every designer should be thinking how to be more sustainable,” Lo says. “During the production process, it should be something inherently understood as being part of fashion.”

Since moving to New York from Hong Kong, Lo has continued to fine-tune her craft and is now working at Jason Wu's to learn more about the logistics and production side of fashion, hoping the gain the business experience she'll need to further her own eponymous label Chan Chit Lo. Recently she also had the opportunity to showcase her second mini-collection for Asia Fashion Collection, an incubation project, produced and supported by Vantan and PARCO, in cooperation with the supporting industry organizations based in Asia, "For younger aspiring designers, I just have to say, you really have to be sure you like fashion because it's challenging and you may never make a lot of money,' she says.

We end our conversation with Lo by asking about her father’s health. ‘He passed away,’ she says in a choked up voice, but then perks up. “He was able to see my collection though and I knew he was happy and proud. I was able to do what I needed to.”
Venus Lo

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