The Hong Kong-based brand i-am-chen, founded by designer ZHI Chen, has been announced as the winner of the SS19 coveted Merit Award by Fashion Scout. Created in 2009, the new talent prize is worth £20,000 and has been created to support and develop new designer businesses on a global level.
Selected from hundreds of applicants by a judging panel, the colourful aesthetic of i-am-chen, drew attention evoking a spirited and fun perspective on knitwear fashion by creating an effortlessly cool, yet equally detailed look. In today’s fashion world obsessed with imposing solemn concepts on clothing, designer ZHI Chen turns to the playfulness and cheerfulness embodied by the artworks of Alexander Calder and David Hockney.
Now, in its fourth season, i-am-chen strives to bring the fun and light-hearted spirit to its audience who, despite age, has a young soul. On the technical side, i-am-chen constantly investigates the capabilities of various knitting machines. Working with world-class technicians, Chen aims to challenge the definition of knitting by exploiting the potentials of advanced machines, applying state-of-art techniques and using unconventional yarns.
She is trying to present to the world what knitting can achieve, and that knitwear is by no means only “fluffy cloths”. While handcraft admittedly has its charm, i-am-chen endeavours to minimise human touch because it simply cannot compete with the precision and efficiency machines offer. Chen creates unique garments full of eye-catching shapes and wearable colour combinations.
Upon graduating in 2014 from Donghua University in Shanghai, Chen continued her studies with a scholarship at Parsons School of Design in New York and completed a Masters with distinction at London College of Fashion receiving the 2014 Young Emerging Designer Award by Shanghai Education Authority. Since the brands inception in 2017, i-am-chen has received significant international recognition including becoming a winner of the AW18 Fashion Scout One’s To Watch Award, the 2017 Łódź Young Fashion Award and received the Lane Crawford Creative Callout Award 2017, Business Potential Award by Shanghai Fashion Week 2018 as well as currently being a Finalist of the 2018/2019 International Woolmark Prize.
About the Merit Award
The Merit Award provides a unique platform for the brightest new designers, with many going on to become established labels in the international fashion industry. Chen follows in the successful footsteps of past winners including; Eudon Choi, Phoebe English, David Koma, Roberts|Wood, Han Wen, Xiao Li, Katie Ann McGuigan, EDDA as well as the AW18 winner Fortie Label.
The Merit Award Judging Panel consisted of industry experts including Martyn Roberts – Fashion Scout’s Founder and Director, Hattie Crisell – Freelance Fashion Editor (Formerly, The Times), Ida Petersson – Womenswear Buying Director at Browns and Fashion Stylist and show producer Joe Toronka, gathered to make the decision in April 2018.
When ZHI Chen heard that she had won the Merit Award for SS19 she said:
“I can’t believe this actually happened! I had seven days to create samples before the final selection panel; I ran to the factory to start immediately after I heard from Fashion Scout that I got into the last round. Because we could not find anyone who was going to London from China to deliver the samples, I decided to fly in myself, keeping my fingers and toes crossed! I had such a great experience working with the Fashion Scout team last season as a winner for the Ones to Watch show and I am so excited about having my first individual show with Fashion Scout. It is going to be a 20+ look all knit spring/summer collection. I can’t wait to present how far knit can go in the summer.”
Fashion Scout’s Founder and Creative Director Martyn Roberts comments:
“We are extremely excited to award i-am-chen the Merit Award following their exceptional and well received collection as part of the AW18 One’s To Watch Award at Fashion Scout. The brand was a easy decision for the judging panel to award Merit to, due to the eye catching colourways, intriguing knitting techniques and thought through design process. Fashion Scout are excited to give i-am-chen the opportunity to continue building the brand and profile here in London”.
i-am-chen will showcase their SS19 collection at Fashion Scout London during London Fashion Week. Are you excited to see the show?