2013.021.005 Oral History with Jason Wu
Jason Wu, a fashion designer born in Taiwan, raised in Canada focuses on the importance of being raised in a strong fashion oriented environment. His love for femininity and beauty was the drive for his passion that he later carried on during his fashion career. With the knowledge of fashion and a strong sense of business making, Jason Wu created a name for himself as a successful Asian American fashion designer.


JASON WU: I was born in Taiwan, and I moved to Canada when I was nine. I suppose my fashion training came from reading magazines. I think when I was really young, I started reading my mother's fashion magazines, and that's sort of how I learned English, in the beginning. And I guess, the training never ended--I think I'm still in training, in so many ways. I've always loved beautiful things and beautiful objects. and I think, eventually, when I discovered what fashion design was, it just struck me as something that was so interesting and combined so many of my interests into one form. I think because it combined that aspect of illustration, you know, when you create prints, to sculpture, which I also did, which is shaping the clothes, and I loved the functionality of it all, too.

JASON WU: I suppose I don't really-- Wait, let me start over. How did I start my own brand? I suppose I was quite naïve at the time I started my own brand. I think I was just so passionate about what I did that when I left school, I just decided to start--without really knowing that much about the industry at all. So, I have to say, I sort of learned my way throughout the industry from shipping boxes to answering phones to merchandizing in stores to sales to doing a show. So, I suppose I really went in headfirst and it's a really interesting experience, but I've definitely learned a lot throughout the years that I've been in the business. I've always wanted to be in New York. I remember my mother wanted me to apply to RISD, which I love, but I secretly didn't submit the application and did only Parsons because I wanted to be in the city. And I only had one choice of school, which my mom would probably freak out if she knew.

JASON WU: I think my background had a lot to do with how I run my business today. I think mainly my father, who is a great business person, and he's taught me a lot about business in general, and I think having a good business sense is certainly very important. It's certainly not something you learn in fashion school. You always learn how to design and draw and drape--but to run a business is a whole different story, you know. My Asian heritage has always given me really good work ethic. I feel like hard work, at the end of the day what it really takes to be successful in anything. And I think in fashion, there's no exception.

JASON WU: The piece in the exhibit is from my Spring 2013 collection. It's a sort of star-embroidered dress with this harness and draped chiffon, and it reflects so much of who I am because there is the toughness and the boyishness--and that's coming in through the harness. And then there's the extreme femininity--it comes through, as well. And then, the craftsmanship side of it all has always been really important to me, and I think the embroidery and the intricate work within the dress really speaks to what I do and the kind of clothes that I make.

JASON WU: I think, certainly, there's a kind of cleanliness and simplicity amongst it all. You know, even though there's a lot of elements in it that is quite Asian. And I think that, although, in a lot of my work, you don't see an obvious Asian influence, I think it's just a part of me, and would naturally rub off on everything I do.

JASON WU: I think there's a broad interest in fashion because fashion touches so many different areas of our lives. I think, number one, we need to wear clothes every day, and you know, it's something that you have to make a decision on every day, so I think that's really important. It's become really important in music and art, in politics, you know, because clothes sometimes speak in volumes what you stand for and who you are and how you're feeling.

JASON WU: I feel really honored to be a part of the MOCA exhibit because as a Chinese American designer, I feel like I'm part of this community and that I want to contribute. And this is one of my motivations in being part of this exhibit and be a part of MOCA because I do feel like, we've really sort of evolved over the years. I suppose the Asian identity in fashion--I think a long time ago, it was much more about the Asian consumer, but now it's about the Asian creator, and I think that's really interesting and significant, I think.

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