We are proud to announce the Hong Kong based brand i-am-chen, founded by designer ZHI Chen, as the winner of the SS19 coveted Merit Award. Created in 2009, the new talent initiative is worth £20,000 across three seasons and has been created to support and develop new designer businesses on a global level.
In winning this season’s Merit Award, i-am-chen will receive a fully sponsored catwalk show with Fashion Scout during London Fashion Week with space to host press and buyers. The Merit Award provides a unique platform for the brightest new designers, with many going on to become established labels in the international fashion industry. Chen follows in the successful footsteps of past winners including; Eudon Choi, Phoebe English, David Koma, Roberts|Wood, Han Wen, Xiao Li, Katie Ann McGuigan, EDDA and AW18 winner Fortie Label.
Selected from hundreds of applicants by a judging panel, the colourful aesthetic of i-am-chen, drew attention evoking a spirited and fun perspective on knitwear fashion by creating an effortlessly cool yet equally detailed look. In today’s fashion world obsessed with imposing solemn concepts on clothing, designer ZHI Chen turns to the playfulness and cheerfulness embodied by the artworks of Alexander Calder and David Hockney.
“I can’t believe this actually happened! I had seven days to create samples before the final selection panel; I ran to the factory to start immediately after I heard from Fashion Scout that I got into the last round. Because we could not find anyone who was going to London from China to deliver the samples, I decided to fly in myself, keeping my fingers and toes crossed! I had such a great experience working with the Fashion Scout team last season as a winner for the Ones to Watch show and I am so excited about having my first individual show with Fashion Scout. It is going to be a 20+ look all knit spring/summer collection. I can’t wait to present how far knit can go in the summer.”
ZHI Chen, Founder of i-am-chen
The Merit Award Judging Panel consisted of industry experts including Martyn Roberts - Fashion Scout’s Founder and Director, Hattie Crisell - Freelance Fashion Editor (Formerly The Times), Ida Petersson – Womenswear Buying Director at Browns and Fashion Stylist and show producer Joe Toronka, gathered to make the decision at highly attended Selection Panel in April 2018.
Now in its fourth season, i-am-chen strives to bring the fun and light-hearted spirit to its audience who, despite of age, has a young soul. Focusing exclusively on knitting, Chen aims to challenge the definition by creating garments made by advanced machinery with new techniques, using unconventional yarns. On the technical side, i-am-chen constantly investigates the capabilities of various knitting machines. Working with world-class technicians, Chen aims to challenge the definition of knitting by exploiting the potentials of advanced machines, applying state-of-art techniques and using unconventional yarns.
She is trying to present to the world what knitting can achieve, and that knitwear is by no means only “fluffy cloths”. While handcraft admittedly has its charm, i-am-chen endeavours to minimise human touch because it simply cannot compete with the precision and efficiency machines offer. Chen creates unique garments full of eye catching shapes and wearable colour combinations.
Upon graduating in 2014 from Donghua University in Shanghai, Chen continued her studies with a scholarship at Parsons School of Design in New York and completed a Masters with distinction at London College of Fashion receiving the 2014 Young Emerging Designer Award by Shanghai Education Authority.
Since the brands inception in 2017, i-am-chen has received significant international recognition including becoming a winner of the AW18 Fashion Scout One’s To Watch Award, the 2017 Łódź Young Fashion Award and received the Lane Crawford Creative Callout Award 2017, Business Potential Award by Shanghai Fashion Week 2018 as well as currently being a Finalist of the 2018/2019 International Woolmark Prize (final taking place in Feb 2019).
The conceptual knitwear brand is currently stocked in 31 stores internationally, including concept stores Lane Crawford，Machine-A, Browns，Restir and Desperado and has been featured in British Vogue, WGSN, WWD, L’Officiel, ELLEHK, BOF, Grazia, Marie Claire, Bazaar， LulaJapan，Dezeen，Dazed，Modern Weekly and China Daily.
“We are extremely excited to award i-am-chen the Merit Award following their exceptional and well received collection as part of the AW18 One’s To Watch Award at Fashion Scout. The brand was an easy decision for the judging panel to award Merit to, due to the eye catching colourways, intriguing knitting techniques and thoughtful design process. Fashion Scout are excited to give i-am-chen the opportunity to continue building the brand and profile here in London."
Martyn Roberts, Fashion Scout’s Founder and Creative Director