The most recent edition of Denim PV London hosted many worldwide denim personalities, experts and insiders. Among them was Chen Wen, a Chinese denim master, painter and brand design director of his own Chenwen Studio and Never brands. At the show he talked about his work, how he likes to combine art, fashion and innovation while blending Eastern and Western cultures, the importance of performance and tradition in the blue denim world. He also explained what went wrong between the Chinese and Dolce & Gabbana.
When did you start working in the denim market?
I have been working in this market for over 20 years, even if I started as designer about 30 years ago. I worked for Chinese jeans brands like, for instance, Weipeng, one of the earliest and, in the past, one of the major ones, and for US brands including D’Nim. I also sell my own designs to different brands.
In 2005 I founded Chenwen Studio, my own brand aimed at men, women and kids characterized by a combination of Eastern culture, fashion and art. I also own another brand called Never.
Where do you find inspiration and do research for your work?
I visit Europe at least two months per year and travel through Italy and France visiting art galleries, designer stores and see what’s around mostly in these two fields. I take inspiration from the Western and Eastern cultures and interpret all this by adding a Chinese feeling.
How do you use denim–raw or aged?
I prefer to use raw fabric as I can obtain more effects with it as denim is already a material added with much technology.
Do your collections offer any eco-friendly materials or treatments?
I choose fabrics treated with laser and other finishes that try to reduce polluting. You can wash denim differently, for instance, by using ozone. It’s important to protect the environment–this is the trend of the future.
How would you describe your brand with one sentence?
Passion and art. My collections mix basic styles reinvented by adding fashion design elements.
You spend quite some time in Europe for your research. Is there any brand or designer that is a good source of inspiration for you?
My inspiration comes from my paintings and from travelling.
Do you personally collect denim or fashion pieces?
I don’t own any specific denim pieces, but only a few clothing items by fashion designers.
What is the indispensable garment for anyone’s wardrobe today?
A pair of jeans.
What do you think about the Dolce & Gabbana matter of a few days ago? In many Western countries consumers are used to advertising campaigns that make fun of different local attitudes and characteristics. Do you think that Chinese consumers felt very offended by that whole matter? Will Chinese consumers ever go back to buying Dolce & Gabbana?
I think it is important to respect each country’s different cultures and lifestyles. Fashion designers should focus on being creative in designing, not in advertising. In this matter what is insulting is not the advertisement itself, but those messages we got to know about the attitude of one of the owners against China and the messages he publicly left on social media. It is hard to say whether the Chinese consumers will return to buy Dolce & Gabbana.