A man of many hats, American born Daniel Wu spent the majority of his life in San Francisco before a move to Hong Kong ultimately changed his life. With a completed degree in architecture under his belt, Daniel Wu was soon thrusted into the Hong Kong spotlight which has seen his talents spread out across modeling, acting, directorial ventures and internet entrepreneurship. However, on the foundation of a strong relationship with local Hong Kong fixtures Brian Siswojo and Annie Lee who form the duo behind the brand Know1edge, the three embarked on Daniel Wu’s first fashion venture with his work on Know1edge’s 08-09 holiday collection. We take an opportunity to discuss with the talented individual this interesting union as well as the conceptual aspect of the whole collection.
Interview with Daniel Wu (Actor)
You’ve been predominantly known as an actor, what was the premise behind getting involved in your own collection?
No real premise actually. Brian asked me to do it and I thought it would be fun so we did it.
How did you meet up with Brian and Annie of Know1edge? Who suggested a Daniel Wu-designed collection?
I’ve known Brian for many years now. I really respect what he has done for the local skateboarding scene. Everything he does is for the love and passion of it and you can see it in his designs. Brian and Annie are an awesome couple, it’s cool how well they work together as a married couple and as business partners.
The Knowledge brand was introduced to me at his 8FIVE2SHOP. I really liked his t-shirts and then he went on to do jeans, bags and other accessories that were really awesome. We had been talking about collaborating for quite some time and we finally decided to just do it. It also might have been because I always complained to Brian that the cutting on his Knowledge stuff was made for short, thick guys like himself. Tall skinny guys needed some love in the Knowledge family.
Could you tell us about your new collection with Know1edge and what are some of the highlights and features?
I’m actually really happy with this collection. The goal was to create clothes that were still street inspired but with a bit more of a mature element to it. I wanted each item to be solid basics that you could take out of the closet and wear now as well as 5 to 10 years from now. So stuff like crazy graphics and all over print were definitely out of the question. I’m pretty stoked on all the items but I especially like The Mission jacket, which is based on an old Derby jacket I had for like 15 years. The Derby jacket was a street fashion staple in SF long before there was such a thing a street fashion. Everyone from Mods to Cholos wore them. We tightened the cutting up on it so it fit better and added some details like the orange piping and the really nice canvas material. The Gilman pants are just a nice hounds-tooth, checked pant with a nice cut to them. I’m kind of addicted to hounds tooth, plaid and pinstripes. I just like how they help to highlight the structure of the piece of clothing as well as the body wearing them.
Where did your inspiration come from?
The collection is my own personal tribute to the San Francisco Bay Area, which is where I was born and raised. So each item is named after a place that is connected to that item of clothing from my memories of growing up there. (If you read the catalog you’ll see what I’m talking about)
Is clothing design something you want to explore more in the future? Is starting your own brand something you’ve contemplated doing?
I had a lot of fun working with Brian on this project but I really haven’t thought about creating my own label just yet. I guess if there is positive feedback from this line then we’ll consider doing another collection in the future but nothing set in stone yet.
What sort of messages were you trying to express through this collection?
I wanted to make this collection more subdued and subtle as opposed to following some trends out there that are wild and loud. SF, whether it’s the people, the clothes they wear or the lifestyles they lead, tend to be a lot less flashy and gaudy than in places like NY or LA. So I went with the “less is more” motto and decided to go for a more simple design that is well made and a style that is more about longevity than following any kind of trend. I also wanted to make them as versatile as possible, meaning you could wear them to church but then cut out early to skate in them without looking like a dork at the mini ramp.
With a background in architecture, how does clothing design differ from architecture work?
The main difference between clothing and architecture is the time it takes to see the finished product. In architecture, there are so many other tiny little details you have to manage and the construction process takes a lot longer to get through. You could be working on the same project for a couple of years before you even break ground. With clothing, you pretty know what the final product is going to be like with the first sample. In terms of the design process however, it’s very similar. We started by thinking up a concept and once we had that, we just built from there.
Interview: Eugene Kan
Photography: Dan Pak