After seven years spent working as a creative manager for department store Lane Crawford, Hong Kong-based Declan Chan has been building a reputation for work under his own name, regularly engaged a stylist, creative consultant and art director for some of the world’s biggest brands and retailers. Given the nature of his work, Chan regularly travels to the seasonal men’s and women’s fashion collections, drawing attention away from the runway to his own unique wardrobe. Here, he speaks with Merino.com about building a brand, having a unique voice and the importance of eclecticism.
Your work involves finding and recruiting talent for brand collaborations. What does this entail?
When I work with a client to art direct and produce a project, they entrust me to pick the right talent for the creative team, including photographers, video directors, hair and make-up artist, models, bloggers... It is this sensitivity of selecting the right team that is crucial to the success of the project. Like cooking, you need to get the ingredients right.
What makes a fashion influencer special or unique?
A fashion influencer is someone that can speak to their audience in a unique way and which the audience can relate to, or someone that has an individual voice and opinion, and a unique style, that inspires people and shows them how to wear luxury products. I think the most important value of a fashion influencer is that they are a relatable role model as opposed to the stigma of the traditional appeal of a high fashion model or celebrity. They have to find their “flaws” and turn that imperfection into their uniqueness.
What is the key ingredient that makes a collaboration special between a talent and a brand?
I think risk taking and being unexpected is critical to the success of a collaboration. You cannot always play safe and just find the right fit, certainly you need to have a clear understanding of your brand DNA and who will present it well to the audience. Taking a step further to think outside the box is necessary in keeping your brand relevant and for it to be noticed. From a marketing point of view, I am very impressed with what Gucci has been doing recently, both online and offline. It has a very special and well thought-out strategy in picking its talent since its rebranding under new artistic director Alessandro Michele.
You yourself fall into that category, as you are regularly photographed during fashion week. How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is quite bold and colourful. I love to make a statement with the latest designer pieces, but I also mix in street elements in my own way, which is what the photographers love to see.
What brands are you drawn to most at the moment?
Like everyone else in fashion, I cannot resist falling for Gucci as I admire its individuality and the eclectic complexity of the new Gucci world under Alessandro Michele. On the other hand, I am an eternal fan of Prada, and I think that the recent autumn/winter 2016 menswear and womenswear collections we have just seen have been stronger than ever. It is very refreshing to see a collection that is not about a print or a pattern, but really strong design.
What were your thoughts on the recent menswear shows more broadly? Were their particular collections that stood out to you?
The Dries Van Noten show was epic, with the military influence and the use of embroideries something that I love personally.
What advice would you give someone that wants to work in the fashion industry?
Be consistent and don’t forget to offer surprises.
[Photo top] Credit: The Urban Spotter
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