Steven Tai is a designer I have worked with in the past, and have fallen in love with his brand. His pieces are always unique and luxurious in a really relaxed way. In addition, his collections often reference sportswear and use innovative fabrics that really make for the most comfortable, tomboy style. Read on to find out how we got started and what makes his brand unique...
Tell me a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
I found that I never quite fit in amongst my peers growing up. And yet I had a good group of friends that really supported one another and made each other laugh. I think it is because of this experience that I have really learnt to embrace my own quirks with a good sense of humour. These elements are things I try to really bring out with the brand.
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
I have always had a huge love for fashion. But I suppose the dream only became a possibility when I got accepted to Central Saint Martins. Even then I only felt like a student, which I was. It was only until after I graduated and was working at Stella McCartney did I really feel like I had started participating in the industry.
When did you decide to start up your business and why?
It all started when I was at Stella McCartney. I was selected to be a finalist for the fashion competition at Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography. After winning the Chloé Award there, Mercedes Benz asked me to do a show in Berlin during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin. At that point I only had about 7 looks and had to quickly expand the collection into a full catwalk show.
Suddenly, I had a large collection and a global audience to show it to. It was at that point because of the show and the connections generated that I was able to get the confidence to slowly start my own label.
What is your favourite thing about having started your own fashion brand?
What’s the best part of your job?
It is a double-edged sword, but I would say the constant change of roles and duties. No single day is ever the same!
What’s your absolute favourite piece that you have ever created?
I can’t pick favourites!
What were your biggest challenges in starting up a fashion business?
I think cashflow is a really difficult thing for a small business. Especially when your education is based solely on creativity. The business side of fashion is just as important as the creative side and sometimes even more complex to understand. So that would definitely be a massive barrier.
How did you go about hiring the right people for your brand?
I think it is a lot of trial and error. But overall I have been really lucky to be able to work with the people I have worked with both at present and in the past.
What makes Steven Tai stand out?
It is humble, humorous, and nerdy.
What’s been your biggest pinch me moment?
When I had the opportunity to present my collection to the likes of Anna Wintour and Yohji Yamamoto.
What inspires you?
My friends’ lives and my own.
What’s your average day like?
I honestly think there are no average days, but it always starts with my phone…
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Not exactly! But I think I have gotten better over the years. Thanks to a loving partner that makes it all the more worthwhile to tear myself away from work.
What words do you live by?
Aim for the best, but be prepared for anything and everything to go wrong.
What’s next for Steven Tai?
SS20! Which will go online this week!
If you fancy checking out some previous interviews you can find them here. All images are via Steven Tai.