In Fall of 2011, partners Zhao Wu and Chenling Fan co-launched VOIDTHEBRAND in San Francisco. The collaborators’ biggest hope for their new fashion line was to create an “honest product,” and so they looked to local factories and fabric mills and set about creating a smaller quantity collection based on qualified available resources.
Wu, who would go on to earn his BFA in Fashion Design from the Academy in 2013, explains VOIDTHEBRAND was not without challenge, “We had to figure out how to reinvent ‘basic’ with distinctive designs and materials, but at the same time keep the product affordable.”
By partnering with local manufacturers, Wu and Chenling were able to maintain a dynamic, distinctive collection while minimize the costs for material sourcing and production, not to mention contributing growth to local businesses. VOIDTHEBRAND garments pay homage to the materials from which they are made- attention is paid to the natural characteristics of the fabric, and creative construction techniques enable Wu and Chenling to display their creativity within the framework of “basic” without sacrificing wearability and comfort.
We sat down with Academy alumnus and VOIDTHEBRAND co-founder Zhao Wu to chat about the brand, his time in the School of Fashion, and SHOP657 (where VOIDTHEBRAND wares can be found!). Read on for more.
Fashion School Daily: How did graduating from college change your daily life? Zhao Wu: It wasn’t much different because I had started my label before I graduated from school. I felt I had more time, which of course comes with many more responsibilities.
FSD: How did you get your brand off the ground? ZW: I wasted a lot of time and money doing the wrong stuff before realizing what are the right things to do. It takes time, effort, and most importantly, an opportunity to get the brand off the ground.
FSD: What were the biggest challenges you faced when launching VOIDTHEBRAND? ZW: Sourcing and manufacturing locally. We always wanted to bring the manufacturing back to the US. After 1 year of sourcing, we brought it back to San Francisco.
FSD: When did you feel like you had made it? Have you felt that way yet? ZW: No, I still feel that we are a startup. These days, one brand can easily be replaced by another. I always feel like we need to work harder to stay in business.
FSD: What’s next for you? ZW: I wish to create another label focusing on technical fashion, clothing that can protect its wearer.
FSD: VOIDTHEBRAND product is being sold at SHOP657, the School of Fashion’s new retail store. What are your thoughts on the store? ZW: I love the concept! The opportunity that SHOP657 has given us to showcase our works is amazing, not to mention being in the company of other talented School of Fashion alumni.
FSD: In addition to SHOP657, where are your products available for purchase? ZW: We operate an online store that ships worldwide. We also work with many retailers in the US and overseas.
FSD: Do you have a favorite memory or piece of advice from the Academy? ZW: My favorite memory was working on the Christmas windows on 79 New Montgomery. I think it was 2009 or 2010, when Russell came up with an idea of huge Christmas wreaths. I had lots of fun working on that project.