Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Everyday Girl Who Stands Out | An Interview with Fashion Designer Brook Fung of Peeko Apparel

So first of all tell us a little about yourself. Who is Brook Fung? 

See that girl with the tattoos and the piercings modelling the clothing, that is Brook Fung. You would be surprised at how many people are usually unaware that is me and I am the creator and owner of Peeko Apparel. I make everything that comes to you when you order off my site. 

I am the man/woman power behind it all! I design, pattern draft, sew, photograph and model. 

When did you first get involved in the fashion industry? 

The first real exposure in something sorta fashion related was when I entered into a wearable art fashion show 2003 in art college. That is really where it really started for me. Prior to that it was making clothing for myself and a few of my rave friends in the 90's. Around 1999 till 2003 I didn't make a single piece of clothing, I was going through some identity crises, I had it in my head that I was doomed to be in that industry. With that, I stopped letting fashion defining who I thought I was. I did however, worked clothing retail for those years, up until till I graduate art college. I worked retail for much too long! I should have gone to fashion school right after high school, but with my own inner demons, I had to pay my own bills and school just wasn't an option at the time. I am just thankful I put myself through art college, least that was my gateway to leading me to where I am suppose to be. 

How did the idea & concept of Peeko Apparel come to fruition? 

After I graduated Art school I was so over creating stuff in general, I was being pulled in so many directions, from defining myself as a fine artist, ceramic artist, to a textile artist, to a designer. I needed a time off and went to travel down to Mexico for a few months. I was backpacking at the time and was so drawn to the arts and crafts down there. Along with that, I was meeting a lot of new faces and people, having to introduce myself as I was travelling it gave me a sense of wanting ownership of something, a sense of a title to who I was. After travelling and being inspired by culture, I wanted to put my degree to use, and make create something of my own. Which is where I am now, with Peeko. 

What made you decide on the name Peeko? 

Truly I wish I could give an really amazing answer to that, but you really want to know where it came from? For some reason everything seems to circle back to my art college days… 

I was apart of the schools "show and sale", where students get to sell their work. I was planning on selling brooches and totes. While sitting in art history as per usual day dreaming of other things than listening to lectures, I thought to myself, "I need a name for my product, a brand". At the time I was drinking a lot of tea and Orange Pekoe especially. Looked down at my cup with the tea tag label hanging out and that's where Peeko came from. Of course I researched the crap out of it after I got of class to find the meaning for it and if it had been used. I came to find out that it was a name for a Japanese cartoon of a bird. I liked that so I stuck with it, being as I am obsessed with Asian culture, especially Japanese. 

Where do you draw your influences for the label? 

I generally refer to history, I look into things of the past which influence me with a theme or an idea. whether that be military, with a utilitarian and practicality sort of feel, that I apply to my garments. Asian vintage posters, for color palettes. Japanese culture when it comes to their sense of pattern in geometry. Or art illustrations such as Erte and Aubrey Beardsley for drape and pattern making. Plus architecture and interior design when it comes to the bare bone structure and modernist meets minimalist. 

Who are some of your personal fashion & style icons? 

Michele Lamy, Daphne Guinness and oddly enough, the Olsen twins. 

Your collections comes across as very strong and almost structural. How do lines, shapes and structure play a role in your designs? 

I have to make things that are affordable and practical to make in the sense of reproduction. When I first started I was making super crazy pieces to stand out, only to find out I was underselling myself with the amount of work I was doing and putting into the pieces. It also made it really impractical to produce stuff on time when I made things that were really detailed with tons of pattern pieces. Considering I sell mainly online, I am aware there is a stigma and also a fine line of when purchasing stuff off the Internet if it will fit. That's when jersey and knits became my best friend. Any material that has stretch or give, the chances of it probably fitting are probably better than if I sold suiting online. 

Who are some of your favourite designers and labels? 

Ann Demeulemeester 

Haider Ackermann 

Mark Fast 

Rad Hourani 

Gareth Pugh 

Yohji Yamamoto 

Is there any one designer you would love to collaborate with? 

Who wouldn't I want too!!! well okay… I will filter it, to say anyone who is an established artist or designer. In general love to do collaborations, it helps me think outside my comfort zone. However, I am at the point that I would want to mentor under someone. I feel like I have sooo much to learn in this industry. To be able to mentor under any one of the names listed above, including Rick Owens, Alexander Wang or even a chain store company such as All Saints design team. Anything in that realm would be an enriching experience, for self discovery, or just how the industry operates. Both would be a great contrast from designer house world to corporate world. 

 Have you ever had any celebrity clients? Is there anyone you would really love to design a piece for? 

Too be honest I don't follow a lot of celebrities and what they are wearing. Never really given it much thought. I design for "the everyday person". I draw a lot of my influences also from street style, what people are wear, what is culturally the norm and trying to break it a little. For me, my muses come from average people. I imagine myself dressing for that everyday girl who wants to standout and support an independent clothing label. 

Also I would say the new celebrities are the fashion bloggers out there… now that is the kind of person I want to dress. I am always doing something that is a little out of the norm, though now its becoming more of the norm which I like. 

Course I wouldn't turn one down if one asked. Lets just say I don't lose sleep over not having some celebrity wearing one of my pieces… 

Do you do any custom work and if so can you tell us about it? 

I do, just not much recently. I have a lot in the past. But to be honest I had to let that go in the past years. I just don't have time for doing customs anymore. Its a lot of work and to put all of that into one piece, and not to be able to reproduce it, is really not the best way to be efficient when its only me running my own business and shop. I have to think of the bigger picture and that is to be able to reproduce and keep up with the demand of many clients, not just one. 

 What are your favourite materials and concepts to work with? 

Natural fibres are my favourite! Such as wools, if only it wasn't so damn pricey… one day, I dream of owning a farm of sheep… in another life. 

Geometry, Geometry, Geometry. I can't get enough of it. seriously. However, living in San Francisco has however made me a little jaded with the whole scared geometry thing… its frigging everywhere. I think if I threw a rock off a building I am sure to hit someone who does it , everyone and their hamster seems to do it around here… I believe that moderation is key, and this city is a far cry from moderation. however, it is kinda part of the charm. 

When you are not designing what can we find you doing? 

Haha.. well I am usually working all the time. I think honestly I have a solid track record of blowing of personal plans with friends because I work so much. *sorry friends and family* I would like to think I have a fabulous social life, but its just not the case. I like to work too much! But when I actually take time out for myself, one will find me on the dance floor! I love to dance! its my cardio! Also I love nature and being outside, anything around trees and water is where I am most in my comfort zone. Its nice to get off the grid sometimes, I could easily slip away into that any day. Realistically after a long day of work, I love to put my nose into a book or drop some crazy cash for those expensive fashion magazines with no ads, filled with runway shoots… 

What can we expect from Peeko Apparel and Brook Fung in the future? 

Hopefully It wont be just me, but that I can have people working for me and my company can grow. It would be amazing to see myself sold else where other than Etsy.