7115 by Szeki is a collection full of uniform essentials. Shapes that are beautiful in their simplicity with clean lines and a modern disposition. We are so drawn to their everyday appeal. We took a moment to stop by one of their two shops when we were in New York last and chatted with designer Szeki Chan about her story and the collection. This Fall and Winter we will debut our selected items from the 7115 line in-store at Glasswing.
GW: We understand that 7115 has been around for the last five years now. How did the line come to be? What compelled you to start designing clothing? What is your vision for the brand?
"After graduating from Parsons with a degree in Design Technology, I took a couple years off to pursue a career in music. As much as I enjoy the thrill of being on stage, it wasn't the right life for me. I decided to move back to NY. With absolutely no plan in mind, I picked up jewelry-making as a hobby, which turned into a passion. Next thing you know, I was a local street vendor selling on the front stoop of my building. The positive response with my makeshift jewelry stand sparked my curiosity in exploring apparel design. To be completely honest, I didn’t have a “vision” when I started--I just wanted to make nice things that I liked and I could afford. 7115’s mission wasn’t solidified until much later on, developing over the years, and after many mistakes. Slowly I discovered my true passion and what kind of business I wanna build and what I wanna put out in the world. Today 7115’s vision is simple and straightforward: we are a brand dedicated to well-designed and well-constructed apparel that is within reach."
GW: Over the last five years, how has the brand changed, if at all? Are there any designs that are still around from the beginning? If so, which ones?
"Over the past few years, 7115 has been progressing and maturing. We have grown to truly embrace our pragmatic vision of apparel design. Instead of merely scraping the surface, we strive to explore our core values at all levels of design and production, working hard to ensure every garment we produce lives up to the 7115 standard. We definitely have signature styles that we think are worth keeping around, simply because they’re too good not to... like our kimono dress. But more often than not, 7115 strives to bring new life to our classic silhouettes by reinventing their construction, perfecting the tailoring, exploring new ways to achieve seamlessness and highlight shape and line. I think this is clear in our upcoming collection for SS16, where we are elevating our classic gathered trouser, reversible maxi and the drawstring relaxed pants by refining the fit and construction."
GW: 7115 by Szeki. How did you come up with your brand name? It's quite interesting! Is there any sort of story or meaning behind it?
"7115 is the telegram code for my last name CHAN, all the Chan’s have the same code on their Hong Kong ID card. It’’s my little way to honor my family. And on a visual level, the angular shapes of the number just works with our aesthetic.
GW: Tell me a little bit about your process. How do start your designs? Where do you find inspiration? How are your fabrics sourced? Where is the line produced and what is that process like?
"At 7115, we take three distinct qualities into consideration: Aesthetic, Quality, Attainability. Itʼs a circular process of design and reasoning that we use to perfect our product until balance is achieved. As the designer, my motivation usually comes from a design challenge. I work in our LES location at least 2 days a week, and nothing inspires me more than the everyday women who walk into my stores, being able to directly speak to my customer is the most exciting source of inspiration. Learning about who they are? What they dress for? What they aspire to be? What are they missing in the wardrobe? The design challenge is to incorporate everything that 7115 stands for into something that customer need and want. Our production studio in Guangzhou City is a about 10 mins away from the largest fabric market in China. Our studio colleague walks the market at least once a week to discover new fabric. We work mostly with natural and sustainable fabrics like linen, cotton, tencel silk, and wool. All 7115 garments-- from patterning to packaging--are made within our in-house studio. Our studio crew is a mix of textile graduates and experienced seamstresses, led by a former textile professor of Guangzhou University. In-house small scale production allows us to achieve consistency and flexibility, ensuring we produce our line with as little waste and the best quality possible."
GW: A little bit about yourself! Where are you from? I know that you attended school in NY and currently call the city home but what was life like for you growing up?
"I was born and raised in Hong Kong, moved to the UK as a teenager then moved again to New York for college. I studied design since the age of 12 and it has been a part of me ever since. I grow up navigating myself through different medium and design disciplines, like graphic design, 3D, ceramics, photography... I was always curious and dying to try new technique. At Parsons I decided to major in something that I’ve never heard of, Design and Technology, and it turned out to be the best experience and education I could have hoped for. Today although I work mostly in apparel, I still feel my design practices are rooted from my background and my studies, and I believe that brings 7115 a different perspective.