At the Langara AWEAR Charity Fashion Show I attended on March 27, 2012, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at collections from some up and coming young designers in the Vancouver area, one of whom I just couldn’t get out of my head! A few emails and text messages later I found myself sitting with Annching Wang, whose collection Avery by WangÂ is not only classically beautiful, but eco-friendly and designed with love.
Y57: So you grew up in Vancouver, and decided to stay on for post-secondary after graduating high school?
Annching: Yes, after graduation I decided on Kwantlen College for their Bachelor of Design in Fashion Technology. It’s a comprehensive four year program that gives its students an interdisciplinary fashion education. I knew I wanted to get into fashion after graduating high school, but I also knew that I needed time to make sure it was what I really wanted to do, so I chose a longer program that would give me a well-rounded education.
Annching: I have nothing against private institutions, I just felt Kwantlen was a better choice for me. I did a lot of research into all the programs and liked what I saw at Kwantlen. As well, they have required internships in order to graduate, so I was able to work at two different places before I graduated.
Y57: Where did you do your internships?
Y57: How did you decide you wanted to get into fashion?
Annching: Well every since I was a little kid I knew I wanted to do something related to fashion, I even remember when I was 7 writing in my journal that I wanted to be a fashion designer. When I was in high school though I didn’t tell anyone except my family that I wanted to get into fashion. I was very academic-focused and aside from my sewing class I never really explored the possibility of a career in fashion until I graduated high school.
Y57: That’s not usually the answer you get from fashion designers.Â
Annching: School was important to me, and fashion was important to me, but I focused more on school I suppose. After high school though I knew I had to do what I always wanted and explore my love of fashion, which eventually lead to me starting my own line.
Y57: Please tell us about your line!
Annching: My label is called Avery by Wang and it’s all eco-friendly! We launched our first collection at the end of March called Bloom.
Y57: How long can it take you to create one piece?
Annching: Oh, it can take anywhere from a week to four weeks to two months, it depends how long it takes us to design it, make the pattern, get the right fabric, build the piece and so on. It’s definitely slower than a lot of other companies, but I like to think veryÂ consciouslyÂ about every piece I create, every detail is important to me.
Y57: Is being eco-friendly important to you and the label?
Annching: Yes, absolutely. I’ve always been interested in the environment, when I was young I wrote a poem called “Save Our Earth” which ended up getting published (laughs) I guess I’ve just always loved the outdoors. When I was thinking about starting up Avery I decided that if I was going to do it I would make it whole and incorporate all of my beliefs into the line instead of just focussing on what I like stylistically and aesthetically.
Y57: Caring about the environment seems to be an important thing in the fashion world these days, especially among new designers.
Annching: Absolutely! You’re seeing more and more emerging designers incorporating more than just fashion into their lines. I find it so inspiring to see other young people taking care of our Earth, especially when it can be really hard to do from the beginning. Eco-friendly fabrics can be incredibly expensive, so it takes people that are really passionate about it and that want to make a difference to do so. We have to be what we want to see in the world!
Y57: You can definitely see your passion in your work, I’d love to hear more about Bloom!
Annching: Bloom is my baby, its my first fashion line produced on the Avery label. I focused on classic pieces first, the white shirt, the shirtdress, the shell tank, they’re all pieces that are necessary in everyone’s closet, and are all made with 100% organic cotton! In designing Bloom I tried to make sure I wasn’t designing trend pieces, all of my clothes are season-less, you’ll find even on my website I don’t call my collections by season, they have names. It’s important to me that Avery never becomes disposable fashion.
Y57: What do you mean by disposable fashion?
Annching: Well it can mean different things. Because taking care of the environment and remaining eco-friendly is so important to me, I make sure every piece is made with eco-friendly materials, but is also made to last. Forever21 or H&M are examples of disposable fashion. Don’t get me wrong, H&M has done great things for the fashion community, year after year they provide consumers with the latest trends and the hottest designers at an affordable price. They’re also the #1 buyer of organic cotton in the world, but something can’t be sustainable if the designer is only considered about where the fabric is from. They have to be concerned with the quality and whether the item can last several seasons, which is something I really try to focus on with Avery.
Y57: Considering you’re so young you seem to already have a lot of experience under your belt! Can you give any advice to new designers or to students nearing graduation who are interested in starting up your new label?
Annching: I’ve learned a lot through school and in designing Avery. Anyone interested in starting a label is going to run into any number of issues, believe me, I have (laughs) before you start anything, fashion-related or not, you have to make sure it’s what you really want to do and that you’re dedicated to. For someone interested in starting a line I have to say, do it organically, save up your money and don’t try to do something really big and expect it to be a hit overnight, if you don’t know what your market is, test it. When I was nearing graduation I talked with my classmates about what they wanted to do, and so many said they wanted to start their own label, but only after years of working at a job. I found that amazing, I knew I wanted to start my own label as soon as I graduated, starting something new is scary, but this is the perfect time, I don’t have a family or children to support I only have me, and this is the best time to experience something. You can’t let yourself be scared to do something you really want to do.
Y57: Wow, that’s all so true, were you starting from scratch with Avery?
Annching: With the label and the designs and everything, yes. In high school I used to blog about fashion and use facebook and twitter to connect with other people in the fashion industry. I was fortunate when I started Avery I already had a small network of people who knew me in the fashion industry and were willing to help me out and retweet me and whatnot. I had already built an audience for myself without really knowing it or realizing the impact it would have on me later. That’s probably another piece of advice I’d have, even if you don’t know what you want to do, get out there and connect with people who have similar values to you. We’re all so close and connected now.
Y57: Where would be your biggest dream to see Avery?
Annching: It would be absolutely incredible to see Avery at Eco Fashion Week next year, in the longer-term I would love to see Avery featured in Fashion Magazine.
Y57: One last question for you Annching, do you think you’ll stay with Avery in the future?
Annching: Yes, absolutely! Avery is my baby, which isn’t to say I’m closed off to doing other things in the future, there are obviously other things I’d love to explore in the future, but I think Avery will always be on the table. I love to write, and I do my own marketing, blogging and social media for my website, I think people identify with Avery better because it has that personal side to it. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in the future, no one does I guess, but I want to grow Avery with me over the next years.