William Fan

Berlin, Germany

William Fan is a German fashion designer, and in 2015 he launched his eponymous fashion label. Fan blends European and Chinese influences in his work, creating a special connection between both cultures. His portfolio includes ready-to-wear, leather items, shoes, accessories and household objects. The USM Haller furniture system is a recurrent feature in his presentations, and even his newly renovated office is furnished with this modular system.

The collaboration between William Fan and USM goes back to a project for Berlin Fashion Week in early 2023, in which USM furniture was used in the pop-up shop.

The cooperation was continued for the fashion show at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in July 2023, where it formed part of the catwalk presentation, in which the scene was set by combining high columns constructed using USM components with floral art from Studio Lilo.

Tell us a bit about how your label was founded. How did you discover your passion for fashion design and when did you establish your business?

When I was a child, I discovered how much fun it was dressing up. Clothes quickly became a way for me to express myself. Along with music, fashion was a way to create a sense of identity, and it gave me the power to develop my own language. After doing my degree at the ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem, I worked for 3 years in industry before completing my Masters at the Weißensee Academy of Art, Berlin. I then used my final graduation collection to go independent. In 2015, I officially launched the WILLIAM FAN brand.

What experiences or influences have particularly shaped your design career?

Being the child of Chinese immigrants and growing up in the diaspora was something I took for granted. But over time, my perception of myself and my family's culture has constantly evolved. I travelled to Hong Kong and China and discovered a new world that I was very familiar with. My creations have strong Asian influences, and I am constantly searching for a balance between European and Asian values. The issue of gender segregation also plays a big role. We do not differentiate using the binary system that we've learned. Instead, we find ourselves in a new grey area, so to speak, where no distinction is made between man and woman. In my opinion, clothes should not be divided by sex.

What are the characteristics of your clothing items?

Ultimately these are great wardrobe pieces, classics with a twist. I would say their strength is in being very informal and yet elegant. In my eyes, we have developed a new contemporary language, which works all over the world and which people adore for its functionality, peace and precision. It's the really little details that make a massive difference. We don't believe in seasons. The collections are constantly evolving, and each one builds on the others. We are still selling styles that had their debut 8 years ago.

What inspired you to collaborate with USM?

I was excited about bringing USM into fashion in the context of a fashion show because the furniture at first glance, of course, is more closely associated with the home and office. One of USM's strengths is the way it stands out in the conceptual space.

To what extent does the choice of USM furniture reflect your design philosophy?

For me, USM is one of the most distinctive furniture brands I know. As a designer, of course, I am hugely impressed with its durability, functionality and modularity. Before our collaboration, I already owned USM furniture and was a massive fan. Ultimately, good design should offer a sense of calm, giving the customer freedom, organisation and function. USM offers all of that and its modular design allows for customisation. This is such a timeless concept and has been bringing design and organisation to offices and homes for many decades. I firmly believe that sustainability begins with design and quality, and that USM's success is built on those principles.

What is your vision for developing your label?

I would love to create my own establishment. I love building worlds and trying out lots of product groups. Fashion is our core business, and I think it always will be. A month ago we launched FAN PLAZA, a store for gifts and souvenirs, where modern stationery meets antique objects and vintage books/magazines. In the future, this space will feature art, music and design and will host inspirational guest personalities. I am always looking for new ways to understand and showcase design.


Photographer: Clemens Poloczek (ignant)

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