The shOws: 5 Questions with designer Steven Tai

Geek chic and proud: Macau-born, Vancouver-raised designer Steven Tai returns to this year's shOws to bring his inimitable, cool-nerd aesthetic for Spring/Summer 2014.

Having graduated from Central Saint Martins in London, Steven has worked at top design houses like Victor & Rolf and Stella McCartney. His fall collection, which featured experimental fabrics -- including silicone! -- was snagged by Holt Renfew after blowing everyone away at last year's shOws. 

We asked the 29-year-old designer the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY of his collection and future plans. See his answers below!

1. What was your inspiration for the Spring Summer 2014 collection?
The collection is inspired by computer glitches and the futuristic biomes of The Eden Project. We love that people are starting to manipulate images intentionally now and 'destroying' their image files to create intentional glitches over their image as art. We took that as the inspiration and used it as the starting point to our textile experimentation. 

We experimented with new textiles and traditional embroidery but modernized it combining it with silk screening techniques. In particular, we focused on using an aqua suede paint - a texture application that puffs up when reactive with high heat. 

Keeping in line with last season’s collaborative efforts, imagery has been manipulated and collaged to create the feeling of pixelation – this time by Spanish collage artist, Lola Dupre. This season we re-invent sporty casualwear with a nostalgic twist for Spring/Summer 2014. 

2. Why do you love showing in Toronto and the engery at the shOws?
I grew up in Canada. To have the chance to show at home feels like it comes full circle.
I think Canada's fashion marketing is becoming more adventurous and educated. It is very important to push people's general frame of fashion further.

I remember talking to the arts council in Canada and they told me that fashion is not considered as an art. In Europe it is completely different. I am hoping that events such as the shOws can help the Canadian market to recognize fashion as something beyond pure consumables. And that within it there is such a rich history and presence of art. 

3. When people see your collection what do you hope they'll take away from it?
For this collection, I hope it reminds them of the lazy summer holidays we used to get. The ones that you were too hot to do anything, but you were so bored you wanted to do something.

4. Who is the "Steven Tai" woman and what is she doing on a Saturday afternoon in Toronto? 
The "Steven Tai" woman is still a bit of a geek, but she feels very comfortable in her skin and persona. There is a confidence and relaxed attitude towards who she is. She is humourous and is able to laugh at herself. 

On a Saturday afternoon the "Steven Tai" woman would visit the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche and discover new art. Maybe go to the cinema alone or with a friend and then meet her best friend for a meal at Grand Electric. 

5. Where do you see yourself and brand in five years?
I hope to have a regular presentation every season. We are very lucky to have shown catwalks in different cities every season so far. And in five years I hope we can continue what we do, but in a much larger scope and expanding beyond just clothing and possibly products. And as always, collaboration is the key to our creative process, I hope to have the chance to work with more artists I respect and make more elaborate projects.

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