Keanan Duffty talks to Academy of Art University Fashion Merchandising student Chanya Wanichsarut about her personal style, fashion inspiration, her favorite things about San Francisco and her background in Chemical Engineering.
Keanan Duffty: How do you define your personal style?
Chanya Wanichsarut: After discovering a so-called signature from being my personal stylist, I would say I go for chic, young, feminine, classy, exuberant, and, of course, elegant. Since I’m such a thorough person, I care all about details on clothing. When it comes to quality, I would rather have few pieces of well-made outfits over a closet full of low-end garments.
Based on my background from my Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, I have little knowledge about fashion industry. Nonetheless, my passion along with the years in AAU made me found out that from the past, most trends goes around in cycle. For instance, the hot pants trend from the 70s has reoccurred several times. This became one of the main reasons why I choose the quality over quantity—it’s like I could wear my hot pants from 10 years ago and it would still look fabulous.
KD: What is your inspiration right now?
CW: When I was in high school, I didn’t have much chance to travel. So, magazine used to be my favorite source of inspiration. For now though, I travel a lot during the break from classes, both United States and Europe. Still, I can’t really tell where my motivation come from. It’s like many little things from many little places—such as those statues in the museums or how people dress themselves up along the street—combined as a whole. But in the end, I can guarantee they all broadened my horizon.
Once in a while, I would still look around the magazines. But since smartphone is everywhere, I also like to search ideas from Internet. With just a swipe from my fingertip, I can watch the rerun of a fashion show. Thanks technology!
KD: What’s your biggest fashion indulgence?
CW: I believe bags are the fashion manifesto. They represent the taste, status, and style. I love Hermes and Chanel bags, one of women’s must-have accessories.
A while back in Union Square in San Francisco there was a Hermes exhibition. Usually, I don’t really see their ads coming out, and with no doubt I fell in love with them instantly. I bet they put so much effort in everything, judging from the women who wait in line for years in order to get their own bags. The beauty of Hermes doesn’t stop at their bags, the price that contradicts with the number of orders are stunning as well.
Well, Chanel bags; I can only say they are the dream bags for women. They never go out of fashion, really. The designer, Karl Lagerfeld, always comes up with those ideas of a classic/modern combination in every single bag.
KD: What is your signature accessory?
CW: Bows! Whenever they’re there, everything just looks cute, fun, and feminine. I have been in love with them since God knows when. It’s my second nature, I have so many of them: bow headbands, bow bracelets, bow hats, bow belts, and the list goes on.
KD: Which is your favorite shop in San Francisco?
CW: Like I mentioned earlier, bows is my favorite signature design element, and Red Valentino always has bows.
Locally, cannot really pick that one IT store, I just like many of them. Anthropologie is nice. Although I barely get anything from there, they have attractive window displays that draw people in. They also have wide range of products, always a good source of design inspiration. Another one is Acrimony in Hayes Valley. With their interesting strategy, sourcing plan, strong stand point of view, and of course decent location, it is the best bet of my design aim around the area. In fact, I recently chose this store as a model for my product sourcing class.
The store emphasizes my theme “New Black,” where consumers gear towards emerging direction through international businesses. My idea is about branching a store that carries my favorite six brands from Thailand with the same target groups as Acrimony. Therefore, I want to introduce Thai culture by offering consumers the high quality apparel and accessories through Thai designer brands in the suitable locations like Hayes Valley.
KD: Who are your best friends in fashion (your style posse)?
CW: I have two best friends in this industry; they are fashion bloggers Alix Bancourt from The Cherry Blossom Girl and Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad. I’ve followed them for about a year now— they’ve been good at mixing and matching garments together to creating those outstanding everyday outfits. The ones that you would see and say “They’re so creative and confident.”
They both have really distinct styles, too. Bancourt usually does the feminine, cutesy young look I always go for, and Ferragni always surprises me with the rad images I would want to try them someday. She gets inspired by everything in the world, from a song to people on the sidewalk. Her quote goes “One day I can be a rocker girl and one day later I am a nerdy one.” They’re simple yet elegant.
KD: What is your motto?
CW: I don’t really have my motto, it’s more about what I always do and what defines me. It’s similar to Chanel’s quote, “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” I indulged myself in just like that ever time I start my tasks. I guess it drives me hard enough to be unique among others. No matter how hard it would be, I will find a way to make it happen.
Just like how I got my Bachelor’s degree. In the beginning, I knew it was too difficult and not my thing, but I never regret that I decided to enroll in engineering program. It might not make any sense for other people, but for me this is the proof that I can do things well if I try hard enough because, often in reality, we have to do things outside of our expertise. With that experience, I enhanced and refined them to help me think differently and organize things professionally in fashion field I love.
KD: Greatest advice you’ve received or would give?
CW: “Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you make your own tomorrow.” — Author L. Ron Hubbard
Written by Keanan Duffty