Written by Kit Chan
Translated by Derek Leung
Photos by Three artisans
“Please don’t call me a green designer,” reiterated Janko with a waving hand. “It just happens I make clothes with the leftover materials.”
This was simply an unintentional move in 2011. In order to join a design competition with the theme of environmental protection that year, she recycled some denim cloth and enrolled on a tailoring class for cheongsam production.
It is an unexpected destiny that leads Janko to the track of the design of modern cheongsam.
“Many samples or tiny pieces of cloth are thrown away because of the continuous development of the cloth and garment factories in Hong Kong every year,” she said. “I thought it would be pretty interesting if the traditional fashion is made in a high-end tailoring method.”
The recycled fabric comes from various garment factories.
Surprisingly, her cutting makes the tough denim adopted in the Chinese fashion look gentle and elegant. The most exclusive feature is the subtlety and discreetness portrayed by the continuous use of inclined opening and the flower-shaped buttons without giving an old-fashioned flair to the traditional Chinese costume design.
Features like standing collar, inclined opening and flower-shaped buttons are preserved in the design to highlight the exclusivity of cheongsam.
Finally, she won in the competition and hence drawing a lot of attention and responses. In the following year, she was invited by the Hong Kong Fashion Designers Association to exhibit her works and her creation becomes one of the permanent collections in Hong Kong Heritage Museum.
Her love with Cheongsam was first seen at an even earlier time: she worked in fashion design in a TV station after graduation from a design institute. Despite a shortage of her experience, she was assigned to design ancient costumes and not until then did she accidentally realize another world of beauty of fashion with loose body and big wide sleeves.
“Whether a single button is round or square, or even every single floral embroidery cannot be mixed up and on the contrary represents in-depth study and sophistication.” She later started her own fashion brand, and joined hands with two friends to set up a shop last year designing not only cheongsam but also cotton cassock, robes, men’s wear and ladies’ wear.
While at present she is studying tailoring with an experienced tailor every week to hone her skills, she has just started her workshop of cheongsam for children gown as a mode of education and promotion.
Cheongsam classes are offered to promote one of the traditional Chinese fashion cultures.
“Many guests ask why the retail prices of cheongsams are set so high and they will know the reason behind after they have tried in a course and came across the difficulties and the techniques therein.”
To Janko, fashion is not only a career but an ideal, and even a representation of a special meaning. This is why the brand is named “Classics Anew (新裝如初)” to symbolize the initial good feeling of everyday wearing.
“Now not many people wear cheongsam and I hope the vintage denim fabric is able to revitalize this ancient classic culture.”
It is the coincidence or the law of attraction that Janko’s two partners are good at turning old things into new: one is a designer who adds modern elements onto vintage glasses and the other one is an illustrator who reshapes the paintings of old communities into 3-D paperworks.
It is these three like-minded individuals, Three Artisans, who strive to sustain what can be inherited by their bare hands.
Address: Three Artisans, H407, 4/F, Hollywood , PMQ