as mentioned last month, eth0s was featured in the latest issue of milk, a fashion and lifestyle magazine based in hong-kong. with a brand focus on IF SIX WAS NINE previously, the last of the two-part feature this time saw milk interview founder and buyer of eth0s, FALCON CHEN.

below are excerpts from the magazine, and also a translation of the interview.

[click for high-res]


M: in your opinion, what should be the underlying aesthetic philosophy and principle(s) when it comes to designers or fashion?

F: timeless design that can be signature to a designer, combining simplicity and beauty. as for principles, seek influence but reinvent them.


M: during the process of presenting design ethos and personality, do commercial and market factors play a direct role in determining a store's survival? what is your view on the connection between the two?

F: in the past, i used to be caught in the dilemma of balancing commercial viability and the culture of eth0s, only to realize that there actually is none. to create a successful business model based on what we believe in, means that there is no need for a choice, and it is on this front that we are getting better at.

market-wise, i believe that with the current scale of eth0s, we do not need a huge market in order for us to progress. on the contrary, I'm pushing for us to improve from within, to provide the best experience to every client that walks through our doors, to service and most importantly, put a smile on everyone that acknowledges what we are trying to achieve.


M: which two designers/brand aesthetics do you admire/have influenced you the most? what special qualities do they possess?

F: GEOFFREY B. SMALL, i consider him my mentor. he is the one that raised my knowledge of clothing and insight of fashion to a whole new level. actually, it is no longer just pure admiration, but idolization and worship haha. simply put, he constantly demonstrates an unprecedented level of design and craftsmanship, and simultaneously reminds me what the true value of clothing is: the most exquisite and luxurious fabrics combined with top-level traditional methods of hand-craft, and reinventing design based on extensive historical research.

ZIGGY CHEN, he is another designer that i respect very much, and it gives me pride that he is a chinese designer, and to be able to call him a personal friend.


M: what is the current situation for multi-label boutiques in china? compared to established names overseas, where do you think chinese boutiques stand and where does the bottle-neck lie going forward? have you ever been discouraged or felt like giving up?

F: domestic boutiques have been booming in recent years, and there seems to be an abundance of confidence and drive. speaking as a chinese, i think there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to business professionalism, we should support each other to nurture the chaotic and unhealthy market that is china.

in the globalized age and market, we have already reached a bottle-neck in that all stores, overseas or domestic, face the same problem - a rapidly changing market that most are finding it hard to keep up with. worryingly, china is evolving much faster, and it is a troubling sign and alarm that we should heed, going forward.


M: at work, how do you define 'taste'? how do you go about building it? most define 'taste' as being derived from vague impressions of their personal experiences, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your own 'taste'?

F: 'taste' means to find a path that belongs to you, your identity so to speak, and eventually, you will find a lifestyle that belongs to you, and clothing is all but a small part of it. the motivation behind us selling the brands we do, is to help discerning clients find their own identity, and while doing that, to educate every person that walks into eth0s about the value of the clothing we carry.

when building your own 'taste', one need not be extravagant or extraordinary, but it is crucial not to lose sight of your own identity.


M: which brand do you wear most on a daily basis? what were your last 3 clothing purchases?

F: shirts. last 3 purchases were two GEOFFREY B. SMALL shirts, GEOFFREY B. SMALL trousers and ZIGGY CHEN trousers. full-fledged summer now, shirts and trousers are all i need, haha.


M: which part of eth0s' current interior/style/brands are you most proud of? any area(s) that require work on, or that will see drastic changes in the near future?

F: the fact that our brands list very clearly reflects the identity of eth0s is one that i am very proud of. there is always room for improvement, the road to perfection never ends and we are always making changes both internally and externally. we always take feedback from everyone who has been to eth0s very seriously, and if anyone feels there is something lacking, please do not hesitate to let me know, i will appreciate it very much.


M: are there any other store(s) that you like/admire?

F: OLD LYRIC, impeccable taste, a must-visit in shanghai.


M: with regards to fashion brands, what does the 'avant-garde' represent, and where does its value lie?

F: pushing the boundaries of creativity and design, transforming the 'avant-garde' into 'one-of-a-kind'. besides the intrinsic value of the garment itself, its value lies in its ability to allow its wearer to step out from a world of uniforms, and i believe this is what china needs to focus more on promoting.