:: I sat down yesterday with local artist and designer Roger Chan (陳中海) to discuss his new collection of unisex bags called TAXI by Chan.
I recently purchased one of his bags in Shanghai at Loomoo and was struck by its organic and natural Chinese characteristics. I asked Chan why the collection is called “TAXI” and his response affirmed by first impression.
“I named the collection TAXI because taxis are everywhere in Shanghai and in China. They also represent a certain openness and extroverted character that I use in the colors of my bags. It’s also about being close to the street.”
Chan says he draws inspiration from old Chinese things. The green canvas bag he was carrying yesterday was modeled after bags used by postmen in Shanghai years ago.
Chen’s main customers are Shanghainese youth. TAXI by Chan’s subtle and mature styles are in direct contrast to the flashy glitz and materialistic nature of higher-end designer bags perhaps more popular among the mainstream demographic in Shanghai / China. His most recent collection features materials from local fabric stores and utilizes canvas and other industrial materials.
Chan began designing and producing bags as a hobby in college and only later decided to pursue design as a full-time profession. He has been putting out bag collections for the past three years.
“When I’m not designing, I like to spend most of my time relaxing,” he said as he smoked cigarette after cigarette.
Many designers in Shanghai force patterns and trends down the throats of consumers. But Chan remains consistent with his simple and classic style. This is clearly reflected in this most recent collection.
A recent quote from John C. Jay, Co-Executive Creative Director of W+K Tokyo (and blogger at honeyee.com) examines a recent youth Japanese consumer trend: “Young Japanese consumers have turned their attention to local brands, not because of price but for the uniqueness that they offer.”
China is not quite reached that tipping point yet, but once they are tired of the “Westernization” of their consumer goods, designers like Roger Chan will step up to satiate their local flavor.
TAXI by Chan can be purchased at Shanghai retailers such as Loomoo (348 Shanxi Bei Rd.) and other select shops. Visit his website to see more of TAXI by Chan at www.bychvan.cn. Chan can be reached by e-mail at rogerchan1900 -AT- gmail -DOT- com. // JD
[Joey Dembs is a guest contributor on 56minus1]