CENTRESTAGE — Hong Kong’s premier fashion trade show — is launching its fourth edition from September 4 to 7. In anticipation, The Daily profiling a handful of the show’s most notable designers through weekly Q&As. This week: Winnie Witt of WINNIE WITT.
What inspired the collection you plan to show at CENTERSTAGE?
State of mind and aesthetic have always been central to my designs for WINNIE WITT. With the sixth collection, I am continuing to explore the relationship between shape, body, and space. Probing on the notions of humanity and power, I experiment in my designs with strange and bold concepts to expand the minds of my audience.
How did you become interested in fashion in the first place? Was it always something you wanted to do?
Fashion was never something I wanted to do, until I saw the fashion show photographs from Alexander McQueen in a magazine. I love him so much that I went to Central Saint Martins to study fashion. I also had the privilege to intern at Alexander McQueen while he was still alive.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing right now?
I would be a psychotherapist or visual artist. I believe there is no distinction between body and mind. I am just using fashion as a tool to experiment with different states of mind — exploring with somatic experiences of emotion and using these emotions to stimulate the audience in a catwalk show, exhibition, or performance.
Tell us a little bit more about your background.
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, studied in London, and now I spend half of my time in Hong Kong and half in New York. I graduated from Central Saint Martins in London with a bachelor and a master degree in fashion. I received the Creative Award in the New Fashion Collection at Hong Kong Fashion Week in 2003 and that’s when I started participating in the fashion shows for Hong Kong Fashion Week.
I also worked as a part-time tutor at Alternatif, where I spent most of the time while I studied in Hong Kong. I worked as a freelance costume designer for CCDC and Dance Art under Silvio Chan, who is the founder at Alternatif. I also worked at a few major fashion corporations, such as Li-Ning in Hong Kong, Alexander McQueen in London, DKNY and Kate Spade New York.
Besides Alexander McQueen, what designers do you look up to?
I admire Rei Kawakubo. Kawakubo is one of the most influential designers in the 21st century. She is not only pushing creatively in terms of products, but also developing a thoughtful, strategic retail empire. In the past twenty years, she has built and supported many other designers under the Comme Des Garçons umbrella.
What makes your brand unique?
We do not only focus on designs, we also aspire to attract fashion lovers and insiders who support human rights and the environment. Our clothes approach a new way of living, a lifestyle that gives more drama to reality. Clothes are not just clothes, they represent who we are as humans. The reason why at WINNIE WITT we like to pursue fashion is that we believe fashion enhances our daily lives. Our pricing is based on the cost to produce the garments, not how much we spend on marketing and branding. We love our team and the people who work for us. We feed love and passion into every single item we design and produce. We hope to spread this message to as many consumers as we can, to make the change for a better world.
Who is your dream retailer?
Dover Street Market, Liberty in London, and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. They are not only focused on making a good margin of profit, they also care about the creativity and quality of the products.
What has been your proudest moment as a designer so far?
I can’t think of any “proudest moment” as a designer. I just think this is something that I should be doing. I am proud that I am following my heart and turning my dreams into goals and building them into a business.
Check out Winnie Witt’s newest collection at CENTRESTAGE, September 4 – 7 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Admission is free and buyers can register through the official website. Buyers are also encouraged to download HKTDC Marketplace app, which facilitates registration to all the fairs organized by HKTDC and keeps buyers abreast of the latest industry news and fair information.