By Amanda Mah
Samantha Chio was born in Vancouver and raised in Macau. Her unique upbringing has given her a deep sense of empathy for others. Chio’s desire to pursue fashion design led her back to Vancouver to the Wilson School of Design. Drawing from personal experience, Chio spotted a need in childrenswear.
Viere, Chio’s graduation collection, is a childrenswear collection that aims to provide clothing to toddler girls who suffer from skin disorders.
Viere will be unveiled at the 2019 The Show on April 18 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) newly opened Wilson School of Design building in Richmond. The beautiful and innovative $36-million building houses a range of design programs including the fashion-design-and-technology program.
Event details and tickets can be found online.
Amanda Mah: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?
Samantha Chio: The inspiration behind my line comes from having a skin disorder as a child. Growing up with severe eczema, I realized that many skin disorders are more than just a physical illness—it deeply affects people mentally as well. Since this final project is more about empathy and connecting with a niche market, the connections that I share with my target market are skin diseases. The idea of having a childrenswear brand comes from research, but also from the hopes of helping children feel more comfortable in the early stages of their illness so they become more confident as they grow up.
AM: Who are your style icons?
SC: To be honest, I don’t have a style icon. However, there are two women that I deeply respect. I like Rei Kawakubo. It’s more about her accomplishments as an Asian woman in the western society I truly admire. I resonate with her as I left my hometown in Asia in order to pursue a fashion career in Vancouver. I also like Princess Diana because she’s a very empathetic person. She was a part of the British Royal family, but still down-to-Earth. She truly cared about how to make her country better.
AM: What’s the most helpful thing you learned at KPU?
SC: Technical skills. I think the way that our program is set up really prepared me to be more than just a designer. I learned how to design, how to draft, sew, use computer softwares, how to budget, and even how to market ourselves. The program has taught us a little bit of everything in the apparel industry, and it really prepared us for the industry upon graduation.
AM: Describe your educational journey.
SC: Designing and drawing was more of a hobby that I did when I was young. When I was 17, I left Macau to go to Kelowna so I could attend a high school with sewing courses. I attended Mount Boucherie and Kelowna Secondary, and learned the basics of sewing for two years. I applied for the Fashion and Technology Program at Wilson School of Design and learned even more.
I also did two practicums: one at Lululemon and one at Revol Girl. I learned a lot at both positions when I went in to work on areas I saw as my weaknesses. It gave me a more hands-on experience in the industry and insights on myself.
AM: What word best encapsulates you as a designer?
SC: Human-centered. I can’t imagine designing something for someone without having a clear picture of who that person is. I like talking to people and listening to their stories because the personal details they bring up during those conversations always give me insight on how to improve clothing, and how it looks from different perspectives. For example, I remember talking to a fashion blogger and he mentioned he would be forced to look at clothes made for women or children because he was more petite than current men’s options.