Jason Wu: “Taste Is In The Eye Of The Beholder”
Photo by Alex de Brabant
Jason, since Raf Simons announced his departure from Dior there has been a lot of discussion about the rapid pace that the fashion industry has developed. As the head designer for your own label and as the art director for Hugo Boss, how do you deal with the constant demand for new collections?
It’s easy to say that fashion is fast-paced, and there certainly have been a lot of designer departures, but to me fashion has always been a reaction to what is going on culturally, politically, and even economically. We take our cues from what’s going on out there, you know? And the truth of the matter is that we are in a very, very fast-paced world and for fashion to be on a slower pace doesn’t seem to make sense because then it wouldn’t be very relevant for the times that we’re in.
You’re not known for following every trend that comes along.
Well I think it’s very much my personality. I don’t consider myself a very trendy person. I also hate to use the word “cool.” I think it has a lot to do with the way I was brought up. My mother was a huge influence on me and my aesthetics. I remember when we grew up, my mom had antique furniture in our house and I always thought it was pretty old. All my friends had glossy, newly built houses and my mom bought like a 70-year-old house. And back then I wanted what everyone else had, but as I grew up I realised that wasn’t what I liked anymore. I preferred things with a history, with a point of view, things that have been touched and have been through time. And that has really helped shape my aesthetics.
What does it take to have true taste?
We often say some things are good taste or bad taste, but who’s to really judge what is good taste and bad taste? I would say it’s really subjective; taste is in the eye of the beholder. But true taste is something that is yours and I think that takes time to discover. For me, comparing from when I started my career and my company to now, I think I have a much more sure idea of who I am and what my house represents.
How has that changed the way you approach your work?
In my early 20s there was a sense of needing to conform a little bit, I was sometimes even a little bit uncomfortable with myself. I was questioning myself and questioning if what I’m doing is even right. I never worked for a fashion house before I started my business—I had only interned—and I came right out of school and I kind of started into a world that I largely didn’t know, or had barely scratched the surface of. And with experience and just being through it all, I think you really learn that sticking to your guns and just really being yourself and being more confident and owning what you do makes your work better. There’s no wandering around because you are approaching it in a more direct way.
Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?
I think it’s just about defining the next chapter of the brand. In the beginning you look at the clothes and you think about the clothes you want to design, but over the last few years it has become, “What bag does she carry? What kind of shoes? What is the jewellery? What is the environment that she lives in?” And that’s the part I’m really interested in digging into in the next phase of my career. To discover all the other parts, the world around her, in a more concrete way. Both in the way I think about the collection and also physically, thinking about building the space around her. Those are things I’m very excited and intrigued about pursuing and I think that’s going to be very important going forward, to think past the clothes.