Fashion Scout is proud to announce the Hong Kong based brand i-am-chen, founded by designer ZHI Chen, is the winner of the SS19 coveted Merit Award. Created in 2009, the new talent initiative is worth f20,000 across three seasons and has been created to support and develop new designer businesses on a global level. Chen follows in the successful footsteps of past winners including: Eudon Choi, Phoebe English, David Koma, RobertsIWood, Han Wen, Xiao Li, Katie Ann McGuigan, EDDA and AW18 winner Fortie Label.
Selected from hundreds of applicants by a judging panel, the colourful aesthetic of i-am-chen drew attention, evoking a spirited and fun perspective on knitwear fashion by creating effortlessly cool yet equally detailed garments. In today’s fashion world obsessed with imposing solemn concepts on clothing, designer ZHI Chen turns to the playfulness and cheerfulness embodied by the artworks of Alexander Calder and David Hockney.
Now in its fourth season, i-am-chen strives to bring the fun and light-hearted spirit to its audience. On the technical side, i-am-chen constantly challenges and exploits the capabilities of various knitting machines. Working with world-class technicians, Chen reinterprets the definition of knitting by pushing the limits of advanced machines, applying ‘state of the art’ techniques and experimenting with a diversity of yarns.
For SS19, Chen takes inspiration from one of her favourite films ‘The Scent of Green Papaya’ which she first saw ten years ago. She is inspired by images of water droplets trembling on a leaf and lots of sunlight speckled on the ground through the undergrowth. Through the innovative development of her signature dense Lycra knit, she is able to redefine knitwear shapes and structure. She has mastered the material ensuring it remains both elegant and durable.
An exciting development for the new season is the introduction of the finest silk knit, using 18-gauge knitting machine. These delicate yarns are complemented in the collection with chunky yarns to create unique contrasting textures within her collection. Chen creates unique garments full of eye catching shapes and bold yet wearable colour combinations.
She is trying to present to the world what knitting can achieve, and that knitwear is by no means only “fluffy cloths” or “sweater made by granny”. While handcraft admittedly has its charm, i-am-chen endeavors to minimize human touch because it simply cannot compete with the precision and efficiency machines offer.
Since the brand’s inception in 2017, i-am-chen has received significant international recognition and was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to create a pencil skirt for its exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern? ; it also received AW18 Fashion Scout One’s To Watch Award, the 2017 Lodi Young Fashion Award, Lane Crawford Creative Callout Award 2017, Business Potential Award by Shanghai Fashion Week 2018 as well as currently being a Finalist of the 2018/2019 International Woolmark Prize (final taking place in Feb 2019). i-am-chen has been stocked in over 30 stores globally including Browns Fashion, Lane Crawford, RESTIR, Machine-A, Desperado, the Balancing, hug and Cachet at SKP.