Fashion Institute of Taipei nutures emerging local design talents

Thursday, December 29, 2011
By Enru Lin, Supplement Writer

The Taiwan Textile Federation (TTF, 中華民國紡織業拓展會) is getting busy with its new Taipei-based fashion center, as it continues to help develop Taiwan's burgeoning clothing and accessories industry.

In the past decade, Taiwan's homegrown fashion has made enormous strides on the international runway, going from also-ran to serious contender. TTF has been instrumental to the industry's progress through its work in recruiting talent, organizing shows, and otherwise generating business opportunities.

The Fashion Institute of Taipei (FIT, 西園29服飾創作基地), is tucked in Taipei City's historic Wanhua District.

At its heart is a three-story building crafted with woodsy tones and rustic shapes inspired by the Tree. On the main floor — where designers share ideas over coffee — the ceiling cascades out like growth rings. The second-floor workspace is lined with wooden blocks and cubbies, and the third-floor exhibition room is reminiscent of a secret dusky knothole. All of it is a visual metaphor for what FIT is meant to be: nourishing and faithfully rooted to regional tradition.

With support from Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs (經濟部工業局), TTF has begun to make FIT a launch pad for quality “Made in Taiwan” fashion.

Brands that FIT has successfully released include Norah Norah by Xu Yu-Zhu (徐于筑); Pineapple Jam by Tseng Wei-Hsiang (曾偉翔); Andre by Kao Shung Chung (高勝忠); Yulin by Shi Yu-lin (施堉霖); and Lu Xue Zheng by Lu Xue-Zheng (呂學政). According to TTF Design Director Charlotte Chiang, the brands are available inside FIT.

In September, designers took their work to Atmosphere's in Paris, a premier fashion fair that brings together the world's top labels and buyers.

Back home, the Taipei In Style (台北魅力展) exhibition displayed FIT designers' works to some 15,000 local and international visitors from Oct. 21 to 23.

FIT designers have also worked closely with small businesses. In Monga (艋舺), an old Wanhua quarter, designers collaborated with local entrepreneurs to develop distinctive collections for the new season.

Monga and FIT will coordinate pre-order events together in the future, to systemize the garment-ordering process for each upcoming season, said Hung Wen-ho (洪文和), who heads the committee for Monga's clothing industry.

Hung has ambitions for Monga. For Hung, the business quarter — quieter now than in days of old — could flourish again and become as fashionable as the New York SoHo. That's achievable through the tight partnership of designer and small entrepreneur, said Hung. ■

► Fashion Institute of Taipei (西園29服飾創作基地) / Opening hours: Mon. to Fri. 9:30 a.m.~ 5:00 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 10:00 a.m.~ 7:00 p.m./ Tel: 02-2336-7599 / No.9, Sec. 2, Xiyuan Rd., Taipei / http://fit29.pixnet.net/blog

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