By Ife Oluwami
If there was any kind of silver lining to an 18-month period of lockdowns and uncertainty, Brandon Chen found it. During one of the most turbulent times of 2020, BYLON apparel was born, a fashion brand created to provide accessible & non-gender binary garments to people of all sizes and races. The brand aims to bridge the gap between high street and luxury fashion.
“BYLON was created through inspiration from my grandmother who had great interest in fashion and beauty,” Brandon explains. “Iconic in her style, she always showed compassion in her hobbies and never hesitated to follow through with situations that made her happy.”
Lockdown aside, creating a fashion brand as a 22-year-old is difficult enough but to also make it eco-conscious and non-gender conforming shows exactly what Brandon hopes to achieve with Bylon, a brand with principles close to his heart and an opportunity to bridging that gap. I caught up with Brandon after a successful popup launch for his capsule collection: Core.
What was it like developing a brand during the pandemic?
I was faced with many varying degrees of difficulties ranging from issues with initiating the start of the brand, fabric sourcing, production delays and even complications with media production due to social distancing precautions. During university, availability was limited to working three days a week which restricted my capacity to carry out evolving this brand. Through the lockdown period, I was able to teach myself how to pattern cut and sew allowing me to bring my sketches and designs to life accelerating my ability to produce garments. I could also develop the creative direction and stylistic course I wanted the brand to lean towards.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
It’s a fusion of minimalistic streetwear and contemporary fashion with references to 90’s trends. I personally like to play with flared silhouettes and cropped garments to elongate and accentuate the legs which is something I am quite fond of. I do feel like there is a play with masculine and feminine elements within my style which heavily intertwine with the clothes I curate.
What is the editorial process of creating an all-inclusive brand like?
When creative directing a brand that represents inclusivity in fashion, there are numerous factors that converge into producing a good quality editorial. Selective model casting is extremely important here, we try to use diverse faces with varying body types and heights to best represent the population. Although there are some limitations, when grading pieces some of the clothes may become disproportional on larger or taller model’s bodies, so rigorous sampling and altering needs to be completed prior to the final product being made. Furthermore, ensuring that the styling is carried out in a way that is cohesive, comfortable and appropriate with all models, without losing the impact and focus of the original garment is extremely important here. We ensure that the styling is complementary to the individual providing stylistic elevation to the editorials we produce.
What is your creative process when designing?
I look towards different fits, silhouettes and draping of fabric that will cater to anybody. Being inclusive in nature, the garments are intended to be worn by everyone therefore I reach for the middle ground in which I play with both masculine and feminine elements that attribute to the final garment helping produce a final design. For example, the recently released ‘Zipper vest’ in my summer capsule collection includes a regular tank that accentuates the shoulders of the individual but is also cropped which effeminates the garment. I pull inspirations from current trends and other standout designers who like to reach outside the box such as Thierry Mugler.
What impact do you want to make on the fashion industry?
In creating this brand, I want to stand as a pillar of inspiration to not only other creatives but people who work outside the fashion industry and show that following more than one career is feasible. Having studied biomedical science during my undergraduate, there is a firm barrier of intimidation that I encountered when stepping into one of my dreams – the fashion world. Consequently, I learned how to pattern cut and sew allowing me to curate designs and through this I wanted to show people that you can do both. Moreover, seeing more unisex brands popping up is a great thing, and I’m appreciative to brands that cater to a large demographic rather than setting boundaries for a specific gender or size. Through this, I also want to pave the way for other gender neutral brands to develop as well as bring awareness to larger commercial brands that they should be inclusive of all races and sizes and to be conscious of our current climate conditions.
Creative Director: @braeyl
Co-Creative Director: @olibrom
Stylist: @xaniaclaire @offbrnd_
Make-Up Artist: @emilyevemua
Models: @1sh00q @arwayeh_ @princethepotato @so_tonye
Discover more from GUAP’s Fashion section here