Releasing its fifth season, i-am-chen continues to bring the fun and light-hearted spirit to the audience. On the technical side, the brand constantly challenges and exploits the capabilities of various knitting machines. Working with world-class technicians, designer Chen reinterprets the definition of knitting by pushing the limits of advanced machinery, applying state-of-art techniques and experimenting with a diversity of yarns, in bold and eye-catching garments.
Currently a 2019 finalists for the International Woolmark Prize, i-am-chen will be showcasing the AW19 collection alongside a Woolmark capsule collection. As a designer whose origins lie in engineering, Chen has always felt like a creative outsider, uninterested in the strongly concept-driven ideas that so many design schools encourage. Instead, her alternative perspective has afforded her a vision free of fashion norms and is instead, often inspired by 20th century artists.
She has successfully blurred the lines between fashion, art, textiles and technology. For the AWl 9 collection Unclassifiable, Chen has focused on classic elements such as grid, line and point. Following in-depth research into the works of American abstract painter Agnes Martin, she has discovered the ingenious painting approach to bring classic shapes to life.
Chen hopes to re-interpret these traditional shapes employing her literacy in the newest, most innovative knitting language. The new collection shares the intrinsic dichotomy of Martin’s work, who had been widely regarded as a minimalist for her geometric repetition but always self-identified as an abstract expressionist for her vibrant details. On the other hand, Chen appears to be an abstract expressionist in her use of color but is extraordinarily minimalistic in her approach to the actual making of garments.
Chen loves the juxtaposition of simplicity and richness as well as the subtle but solid release of energy in Martin’s paintings. While Martin expresses her emotion in a hidden manner through traditional shapes and lines, Chen hints her minimalistic design under the intricate yarn swatches in explosive colours. Exploiting the most advanced knitting machines and pushing these machines to perform totally new and pioneering techniques, Chen composes new fabrics with yarns of distinctive characters and colours.
The stunning texture and colour combinations can easily be misunderstood as made with heavy handcraft. In reality, all of Chen’s fabrics are knitted in one go into a single piece without extra human touch, as if they are born this way, natural and pristine. The minimalistic process of making, yields a high productivity unimaginable to observers. Chen feels a strong connection with Martin because of the dichotomy embedded in their respective works, and she strives to maintain the paradoxical spirit throughout Unclassifiable.
Since the brand’s inception in 2017, i-am-chen has received significant international recognition and was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art to create a pencil skirt for its exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern?; it also received SS19 Fashion Scout Merit Award and AW18 Ones 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.
i-am-chen has been stocked in over 70 stores globally including Browns, Shopbop, Lane Crawford, RESTIR, Machine-A, Desperado, and Cachet at SKIP.