Maya Wang, the founder and designer of eclectic label Fried Rice, doesn’t take life too significantly — she’s playful easygoing and good-natured. Nevertheless, Wang performs no video games with regards to her ardour and help for the group and cultural narratives that introduced her model to life. By every assortment, Wang celebrates range — an ethos that’s instantly evident upon viewing the energetic clothes, all of that are crafted within the coronary heart of the Decrease East Aspect.
After transferring to New York with no formal design or creative background, Wang was instantly drawn to the infectious vibrations of town. Each facet of her neighborhood, from the street-style fanatics parading their boldest seems to locals manning their very own fruit carts, reminded her of the intricacies that make her who she is: a brave, style-driven streetwear designer. Wanting to immerse herself within the downtown inventive scene, Wang bought her first stitching machine and the remaining was historical past.
In recognition of AAPI heritage month, Hypebeast sat down with the bubbling creator to debate her origin story and what working amongst New York’s tastemaking designers means to her.
Hypebeast: Your model was named to honor the truth that it represents range and a large number of experiences — in the identical manner that as a dish, fried rice is a mix of various elements that each one stability one another out. Inform me about the entire disparate components that make up who you’re.
Maya Wang: Once I’m at our store, I at all times ask clients how they really feel about our model and our model. They at all times ask me the identical query in return: “Why’s the model known as Fried Rice?” As you mentioned, Fried Rice is a metaphor for range, and spotlights folks with totally different sorts of cultural and artistic views — in New York Metropolis and likewise all world wide. I’m a very self-taught artist with no trend background. So for me to start out the model and get this far because of the entire help and love I get from the group means so much. I additionally need to give that vitality again to the group so we are able to develop collectively. It’s not simply in regards to the ideas and designs, however it’s about connection.
What initially impressed you to start designing clothes?
I used to be initially a trainer, and in the event you requested me if I’d ever develop into a designer, I’d have mentioned, “Completely not.” However on the identical time, I feel everybody is aware of what they belong to or what they’re searching for deep down. I’ve at all times had the most important obsession with textiles. Once I was little, I’d gather sweet wrappers as a result of I cherished the colours or the graphic design of the paper, which my mother and father clearly thought was loopy. I at all times knew that design that was my factor, however I didn’t actually know what to do with it.
Once I was instructing, I used to be one thing of a material hoarder. I began bringing material again to my tiny residence in New York and ultimately, I used to be considering, “Okay, I may need to do one thing about this.” I used to be at Goal in the future whereas they have been having an enormous sale, and I purchased my first stitching machine for $50 USD. I nonetheless didn’t know what to do with it. Individuals needed to push me and, on the identical time, I needed to push myself. I had no design expertise, however I at all times had that fireplace in my chest, so I feel shopping for the stitching machine was that set off. Little by little, I began making my first design, which was a gown. I’d put on that gown round and get approached by totally different individuals who’d ask about it, and I feel that was once I realized, “Okay, I can preserve doing this.”
What have been some obstacles or challenges that you simply confronted as a self-taught designer?
I can go on about this perpetually, particularly since I’m nonetheless studying. At first, a reasonably apparent one was studying the way to sew. When the enterprise acquired off the bottom, my group and I’d journey to purchaser exhibits. The primary query we have been ever requested was “Do you could have a line sheet or lookbook?” I’d simply give a giant smile and say, “Oh yeah, completely!” After which after they have been gone, I needed to ask my neighbor, “Are you able to inform me what a line sheet is?” He checked out me and burst out laughing, saying “Maya, how are you going to be right here doing this in the event you don’t know what a line sheet is!” So to sum it up, the precise design course of in addition to the enterprise logistics have been tough at first. However on the identical time, I feel it doesn’t matter what we do — we’ll at all times have challenges. It’s extra so about, “How do I take care of them?” I’m at all times going to make it occur.
What have you ever realized from the Decrease East Aspect, and the way is that represented in your designs?
I’m studying from my neighborhood each single day. You stand up within the morning, drink your espresso and stroll round. You’ll see some folks taking part in basketball they usually’ll be talking three languages on the identical time. The place we stay is a microcosm for the entire globe. I really feel so lucky that I’m able to take inspiration from the entire folks round me.
“There’s house for everybody right here. Regardless that we don’t communicate the identical language, though we now have totally different views, it doesn’t matter.”
I bear in mind a very long time in the past once I first got here to New York, the very first thing I ever did was bounce on the subway to Spring Avenue. I used to be simply taking the trip and observing everybody in my automotive. Everybody was so totally different. Nevertheless, everybody has nice concord right here, ? It was then, at that second, that I felt like this was my residence. There’s house for everybody right here. Regardless that we don’t communicate the identical language, though we now have totally different views, it doesn’t matter. So I need all of that to be included into my design components.
How does your cultural heritage manifest in your designs, and the way do you frequently champion your upbringing by means of your craft?
I at all times begin with a unique type of mindset. I’m an immigrant however I’m additionally a self-taught artist. So for me, instinct is absolutely essential. The expression of 1’s character by means of not solely textiles but in addition colours and shapes — that’s at all times the enjoyable half. I at all times need to make enjoyable items. I need my items to be interactive. Once I create items, I create as if I’m having a dialog with the wearer. And it’s similar to once I hearken to music. I hearken to every kind of music, from heavy steel to punk to classical. I don’t need to limit myself to only one kind of music, similar to how I don’t need my designs to solely communicate to at least one sure viewers.
I really like that there are all these totally different locations that you simply draw from in your course of. It yields items that so many individuals can resonate with. In that manner, you’re inherently championing range.
Sure. I feel there’s little doubt that this model is a mirrored image of who I’m. I need to specific who I’m, however on the identical time, I feel who I’m additionally represents lots of people. Fried Rice is a celebration of inventive souls. Whoever you’re, I need you to discover a house right here. Every part I design can also be genderless as a result of I need anybody to have the ability to put on any of my designs. And when you placed on certainly one of my designs, it turns into a collaboration between us. It’s an ongoing relationship. It makes me actually comfortable to see all of the other ways folks put on my garments, even methods I hadn’t considered myself.
Your items are whimsical at instances, however nonetheless incorporate sensible utilitarian components, like cargo pockets or bungee fasteners. How do you stability this dichotomy in your designs?
These two issues will be very totally different, proper? However with Fried Rice, that’s my objective. I do need to create a concord that’s not solely about magnificence but in addition about common wearability. Your physique kind, your gender, your sexuality — it doesn’t matter. It’s all about having enjoyable to me. And on the identical time, I need folks to really feel like they will put on every bit day by day.
“I need everybody to really feel a way of belonging and to have a good time that.”
Might you give us a couple of insights into your newest Spring/Summer season 2023 assortment?
The overall message is identical: we’re celebrating range and celebrating life. We’re right here to share that positivity. That’s the overall rule for each single assortment. For Spring/Summer season 23, I targeted extra on distinction. One instance is the Hooded Rave Jacket. It’s reversible with two very totally different prints. It’s very wearable and it has a fantastic hood, however you’ll be able to select the way you need to specific your self by means of the prints.
How would you describe the Fried Rice group and in what methods do they frequently encourage you creatively, in addition to personally?
There’s simply a lot need to create and to be inventive. It doesn’t matter how lengthy I’ve been residing in New York, I’m nonetheless continuously impressed. Artists are an enormous viewers for Fried Rice, in addition to entrepreneurs. It’s anybody who has a inventive soul — which is just about everybody. I feel we’re all mutually impressed by one another. Often, when folks buy groceries, they choose a bit, make the acquisition, after which the deal is completed. However for me, that second is definitely after we get began. I don’t need folks to put on my items as a result of they assume, “That’ll make me look cool.” I need them to put on the piece to symbolize who they’re to allow them to proceed of their inventive journey. Individuals are continuously stopping by the store, and I really like that we now have constructed that bond. And my group is wonderful. Each single individual I get to encompass myself with is so wonderful.
What do you hope is in retailer for the following chapter of Fried Rice?
New York Metropolis is the place I really like essentially the most on Earth. And I feel this metropolis is one of the best illustration of the model. However on the identical time, what we do is a metaphor for the range of individuals from all world wide. So I need Fried Rice to proceed to hold on this message and to amplify it. I’d like to make it extra world. I need folks in all places to put on Fried Rice, regardless of the place they’re. That’s the important thing. I need everybody to really feel a way of belonging and to have a good time that.