Building a HAN empire: Words with Khim Hang
For me personally (and a bunch of loyal followers nationally and internationally) Melbourne based designer Khim Hang’s debut collection of his label HAN was one of the most attention-grabbing collections at MBFWA. When I went to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival a couple of months back, I saw the collection on the runway again and was reminded of how fantastic it truly is. Khim’s designs are minimalist, sleek and clean. They hybridise urban and elegant and deliver a truly original aesthetic, and I want every single piece on his website (even the menswear). We recently caught up with the man behind the label to talk HAN, inspiration and working in Australia.
Was there a defining moment that began your love for fashion?
Everyone in one way or another is inextricably linked to the fashion industry. We all wake up and decide what to wear in the morning, fashionable or not, it’s a choice influenced by you are/who you think you are. It’s that aspect I love most, not necessarily fashion itself.
What was your personal journey to success?
You’ll work day in and day out to achieve or reach a goal that you perceive to be success. When you get there you’ll think ‘is this it?’ My personal journey was realising it’s not about reaching that point but about enjoying the highs and lows, twists and turns and in retrospect, the journey.
What inspired the name HAN?
My parents escaped Cambodia during the last year of Khmer Rouge to start a life in Australia. Through all the strife, hard work, deaths and misfortunes I was given a better life out of one of the most recent communist regimes. My parents named me Han, which in Cambodian means the golden child. I am Han, Han is me.
What’s your opinion of Australia’s current fashion landscape?
The industry needs more translucently and a focus on educating consumers on the risks and repercussions of buying fast and disposable fashion. There is no value in cheap clothes, there’s no longevity, there’s no ethics, and there’s no sustainability.
Bill Cunningham says that “fashion is the armor to face day-to-day life”, do you have a personal mantra as to why fashion is such an important form of self-expression?
The world we live in is superficial. Wear what makes you feel like you can take on the world, whatever it is. I sometimes wish wearing pyjamas was acceptable. It’s form and function in one.
Is your current plan to stay based in Australia?
I think the beauty of the industry and the work involved is how transportable it is. I plan on marrying a Swedish girl so maybe a move to Sweden.
What elements of Australia’s fashion landscape are unique?
Our climate, state-of-mind and attitudes. They way these things are translated into the industry and developed into ‘fashion’ is unique.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
French beauty and elegance. Françoise Hardy - Le Temps de l'Amour
What was your first experience seeing your designs on the runway like?
The runway experience was like taking a step back and seeing everything come to life for the first time. The curation and development of processes to achieve that brief 10 minutes or so was a feat in itself. The first of many.
What are your plans for the next five years?
Building a HAN empire.
Check out HAN online http://hanstudios.com