Weeks ago, I had a really interesting interview with Little Treasure‘s designer, Tsai C. It is an interview for Femin, another platform of A Day Magazine which I freelance at. There are still so much to write about besides the post in Femin, so here it is. I am always appreciated to have the chance to talk to designers in person, to hear what they have been struggling and working on, and to feel their passion for designs and apparels. As cultural globalization swamps the whole world, making the world more homogenous, and international fast fashion brands take over the market, it is arduous for characterized products to make a living. As a result, people tend to dress alike. Isn’t it horrible? Albeit Taiwan is only a tiny island, the creativity of designs still wow the world once in a while. However, even Taiwanese people know little about designers from our own country. In fact, it is not until I launched The Kaleidoscope did I start to notice and pay more attention on Taiwanese designers, which is a bit embarrassing if to say. It is also what I would like to work hard on here, to promote Taiwanese designers, even if my influence is trivial. It would really make a difference as long as several people tend to care more about designs in Taiwan, I believe.
前些日子，我為我客座編輯的 A Day Magazine 旗下的 Femin 時尚平台，與台灣獨立品牌 Little Treasure 的設計師進行了一場有趣的對談。一直以來，能親自與設計師互動對我而言都是相當珍貴，我也相當珍惜的經驗。能親耳聽聽他們身在這個產業中的奮鬥與掙扎，親眼看見、感受他們對設計、對衣飾的熱情，讓我再次覺得，台灣的設計需要更努力地被發揚光大。台灣不是沒有好設計，而是我們還不認識。當連鎖品牌席捲、甚至壟斷市場，文化全球化的現象欲趨嚴重，那些有特色、有靈魂的物件漸漸不敵成本壓力而退出我們的生活圈，人們的風格開始變得相似，這不是一件恐怖的事情嗎？台灣是個蕞爾小島，然而創作的能量依然旺盛，只是，這些聲音還是太微弱，微弱得往往只有關心的人才聽得見。近年來設計相關的展覽愈來愈多，或許代表著越來越多人開始關心這個議題，開始關注與這片土地相關的創作。汗顏的是，我也是開始經營 The Kaleidoscope 後，才開始注意到這一塊。同時也希望能透過自己微薄的力量，讓台灣這些優秀的設計師與他們心血結晶的品牌能被認識，哪怕只是多一個人，也好。
Walking into Little Treasure’s studio, I saw Tsai C, wearing an indigo dress, of course designed by herself, welcoming us. The studio is fairly simple. There are no decorations other than some essentials. I’ve already introduced Little Treasure in Femin. Here I’m just gonna briefly recapitulate. Founded in September 2012, Little Treasure always presents a style of somewhat ambiguity. You can find it both elegant and wacky; simple yet complicated. Tsai C hopes that Little Treasure is just Little Treasure, without any adjectives or specific styles. All she wants is to create an ambience, an atmosphere exclusive to Little Treasure. And people who like Little Treasure’s apparels incline to have their own opinions toward aesthetics, rather than accept what media render and report. Actually, the birth of Little Treasure was just a coincidence, but Tsai C makes it real and grow. There are satisfaction and senses of achievements in operating a brand, but there are more trivial stuffs and problems to work through.
走進 Little Treasure 位於汀州路一段的工作室，設計師采西穿著自己設計的藍紫色洋裝迎接我們。設計室非常簡單，沒有多餘的裝潢與佈置，真實地將設計師靈感迸發、實踐的空間呈現在眼前。在 Femin 我已簡單介紹過 Little Treasure 與設計師采西。2012 年 9 月成立的 Little Treasure於繁複中有簡約、於古靈精怪中有優雅，看似矛盾實則取得了一個巧妙的平衡。Little Treasure 常被以「文青」、「復古」或是「精靈系」來形容，但其實設計師最討厭被貼標籤，她希望 Little Treasure 就是 Little Treasure，是一個有台灣在地特色、能引人深入思考進而了解的獨立品牌。而喜歡小寶藏的女孩，一般不太受主流媒體的審美價觀影響，她們有自己獨到的品味與想法，通常會選擇能凸顯自己個性、理念的單品。Little Treasure 的誕生其實是設計師誤打誤撞，一頭栽進創業的成果，在這之中有滿足、有愉快，但更多的是繁瑣的雜事與煩惱。
To Break through Present Circumscriptions
During the interview, we happened to talk about a fashion documentary, Dior and I. Tsai C said,
“I was really moved when I watched the movie. Even Raf Simons, a man with such great power and reputation in the world of design, still encountered some limits. And that also encourages me to stick with what I believe and never give up.”
No matter it is individual brand or international luxury brand, no matter how great the reputation and power the designer owns, all of them still have to face their own circumscriptions genuinely. What Raf Simons encountered was how to showcase his idiosyncrasy and still inherit the history, style and spirit of Dior. What Tsai C faces might be manufacturing costs, marketing strategies, and trifling stuffs. In fact, everyone of us have to face our own limits. We have to learn how to break through present circumscriptions and cross those boundaries with the sources we have.
訪問中，不期然地聊到我在訪談前不久剛好看過的時尚紀錄片《璀璨風華 Dior 之夜》（Dior and I），采西語重心長地說：
「其實整部電影我看得很感動。就算是 Raf Simons 已經位居這麼高的地位，他還是有他的限制，他還是得想辦法突破。這也激勵我不要放棄。」
無論是獨立品牌還是國際一線精品，無論設計師所擁有的頭銜與光環為何，他還是得誠實面對現實給出的限制。剛接任 Dior 創意總監的 Raf Simons 面對的是如何在 Dior 的品牌歷史與風格的限制中，一方面延續品牌的精神，一方面又設計出有他個人特色與靈魂的作品；對采西而言，她的侷限可能是實際成本、銷售上的壓力以及種種瑣碎行政人事雜項的催逼，如何有條理、有方法地處理每個面向，同時又能堅持自己的設計理念的挑戰。每個人的人生都有所限制，如何突破既有的框架，超越這些侷限所帶來的束縛，是一生的功課。
To Relax through Exercising
Tsai C’s inspirations come from her daily life; thus, she couldn’t help but keep thinking all the time when she’s awake or even when she has to sleep, about the tones, colors, atmosphere, topics and etc. And those are just about designs. There are still so much more errands to think about when running a business. When she feels overloaded, she would put all the stuffs aside, and just exercise, whether it is yoga or merely workout, she could finally take her brain a rest. Traveling is also a way for her to relax, but all the excitements and cultural differences will prompt all the thinking, only in a slower pace.
Values of Details
Starting up a business of one’s own is hard. To keep it working on is even harder. What supports Tsai C to stick with Little Treasure is her passion toward apparel designs. In addition to opening up her senses to experience daily life, backstage videos of luxury brands and campaign photos at online shops also inspire Tsai C. She loves the flamboyant of Givenchy and appreciates the experimental of Japanese brands, like TOGA, Sacai and Junya Watanbe. Tsai C is deeply influenced by these brands of their close attention to details. She hopes she can also delicately process the details of her designs with the sources she now has.
就算經營品牌的路上處處艱辛，對於設計的熱情是讓采西繼續堅持下去的動力。除了留心生活周遭的變化，像是台灣獨有的鐵花窗就帶給設計師很多的想法，品牌大秀前後台的影片、購物網站的服裝展示，也是采西的靈感來源之一。她喜歡法系品牌 Givenchy 的華麗浮誇，也熱愛較年輕、實驗性較強的日本品牌，如：TOGA、Sacai 和 Junya Watanbe。這些品牌對細節的專注，影響了采西的設計，她也希望能在自己有限的條件下，好好照顧到 Little Treasure 每件服飾的每個小環節。
2016 A/W 秘密花園
Photo: Little Treasure
2015 A/W 百年孤寂
Photo: Little Treasure
2014 A/W 瘋狂茶會
Photo: Little Treasure
In the Future
As a designer loving antiques, Tsai C plans to start up her own select shop in the future, not only selling clothes of Little Treasure, but also shares special goods from all around the world. She also hopes to get a chance to attend trade shows overseas. I really anticipate what Little Treasure and Tsai C will bring about in the future.
喜愛老東西，也享受和來自不同領域創作者合作的采西，希望未來能開設一間選物店，不只販售 Little Treasure 的服飾，也販賣來自世界各地有文化、有故事的品牌與物件。未來，她希望能到國外參展，也希望能開發配件系列。很期待能 Little Treasure 在未來會帶給我們的驚喜。
Photo: Little Treasure
Just as I mentioned in the post at Femin, Little Treasure is a free spirit that never grows old; however, no matter how free the spirit is, it still needs to stay in the society and to live with reality. Behind those passion, ideals and beliefs stand compromises, compromises to the reality of the society. The persistence of the designers and how they choose under those limitations shape how their brands look like and how their styles present. Behind the freedom and characteristics of Little Treasure, I see how hard Tsai C works to achieve the best among her circumscriptions, to maintain Taiwanese cultures among the homogeneity of the market, and the focus of details among the cheap manufacturing environment. It is hard to define Little Treasure with only an adjective or a trend. It is just Little Treasure, the little treasure from Taiwan.
如我在 Femin 的文章中提到的，Little Treasure 是一縷保有赤子之心的自由靈魂。然而再如何自由的靈魂仍舊得生活在社會的現實中，理想、熱情、信念背後，更多的是不得不的妥協，而在這個情況下，堅持以及如何選擇，就成了品牌以及設計師最讓人動人的故事。Little Treasure 個性宣言的背後，是如何在侷限中做到最好、在單一化、平板的市場機制中追求文化、在講求價格而粗製濫造的風氣下繼續經營細節。Little Treasure 無法以簡單的歐美風或是日韓系來定位，她就是 Little Treasure，來自台灣的小寶藏。