In a recent BODW2014: Designed by HK sharing session, Tat and Vi of Graphic Airlines, and Kay and Jing Wong of Daydream Nation, designers of two Hong Kong brands, shared their stories, visions and inspirations
Q: What is the story behind your brand?
Tat, Graphic Airlines (T/GA): Graphic Airline was established in 2002. Initially, it was something I did outside work. I used to do design work for Sing Tao Daily and I found a lot of photos of warplanes on the company server, as there was a lot of interest in the Iraq War then. I thought it was great as these are not commonly available to most people, so I did some collages with them, and set up a website to share my designs. This led to Graphic Airlines.
I met Vi at Sing Tao. She likes to draw and when she discovered my platform, she thought it would be a good idea to use the platform for her projects too, and we began collaborating.
After a while, we started creating characters such as 'Ah Fei'. He's not really the mainstream idea of beauty, what we call the 'aesthetic of ugly'. Growing up, I used to like cute characters like My Melody. It's only when I started studying and working, that I realised there is another dimension to creativity. The 'aesthetic of ugly' is like the indie spirit. We used Ah Fei to share our views about society. It's like a spokesperson for us. It can be political, new age or sporty.
Kay, Daydream Nation (K/DN): We were both studying in London; I specialised in textiles and my younger brother did theatre design. Originally, I had my own brand; my younger brother graduated a year later. At the time I was very tired, so I asked him whether we could work together to create something, and he agreed that it would be interesting. We came up with this idea of fashion storytelling — when fashion meets theatre.
Our brand name was inspired by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth's album Daydream Nation. We felt that Hong Kong discriminates against daydreaming, those who like to dream and do silly things. Hence, we wanted to establish a Daydream Nation, to defend those who daydream.
Q: What is the inspiration behind your designs?
T/GA: Our inspiration comes from everyday life, sometimes it's our dreams. It's very extreme… We're okay with anything.
K/DN: It's very broad; it can come from the movies we watch, books we read as well as travel experiences. There's this quote by Coco Chanel: "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, on the streets; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."
Q: Can you highlight a product from your brand?
T/GA: I saw some brooches at Sham Shui Po and we decided to make a brooch with Ah Fei in the middle. Initially, we made t-shirts and totes cause of our low budgets, but with this brooch, it was an accomplishment as it's a 3D product. Then, we moved on to make other 3D products like Ah Fei rings.
K/DN: We made passport holders, which are like passports of Daydream Nation. They resemble the UK passport.
Q: Can you tell us more about your latest collections and any upcoming projects?
T/GA: We recently worked with WeChat to launch a series of stickers of Ah Fei. I am also learning how to draw at the same time with both hands.
We are preparing for A/W 2014, it is inspired by the theme of castle in the sky.