Maya Wang, the founder and designer of eclectic label Fried Rice, doesn’t take life too critically — she’s playful easygoing and good-natured. Nevertheless, Wang performs no video games in the case of her ardour and assist for the group and cultural narratives that introduced her model to life. Via 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 Facet.
After transferring to New York with no formal design or inventive background, Wang was instantly drawn to the infectious vibrations of the town. Each facet of her neighborhood, from the street-style fanatics parading their boldest appears 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. Desirous to immerse herself within the downtown artistic scene, Wang bought her first stitching machine and the remainder 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 mess of experiences — in the identical means that as a dish, fried rice is a mix of various components that every one steadiness one another out. Inform me about all the disparate parts 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 fashion. 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 completely different sorts of cultural and inventive views — in New York Metropolis and likewise all world wide. I’m a totally self-taught artist with no vogue background. So for me to start out the model and get this far as a result of all the assist and love I get from the group means quite a bit. 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 turn 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 accumulate sweet wrappers as a result of I beloved 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 house in New York and ultimately, I used to be pondering, “Okay, I may need to do one thing about this.” I used to be at Goal someday whereas they had 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 abilities, however I at all times had that fireside 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 completely different individuals who’d ask about it, and I feel that was after I realized, “Okay, I can hold doing this.”
What had been some obstacles or challenges that you simply confronted as a self-taught designer?
I can go on about this eternally, particularly since I’m nonetheless studying. To start with, a fairly apparent one was studying methods to sew. When the enterprise bought off the bottom, my workforce and I’d journey to purchaser reveals. The primary query we had been ever requested was “Do you might have a line sheet or lookbook?” I’d simply give a giant smile and say, “Oh yeah, completely!” After which after they had 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 had 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 discovered from the Decrease East Facet, 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 and so they’ll be talking three languages on the identical time. The place we reside is a microcosm for the entire globe. I really feel so lucky that I’m able to take inspiration from all the folks round me.
“There’s area for everybody right here. Despite the fact that we don’t converse the identical language, despite the fact that now we have completely different views, it doesn’t matter.”
I bear in mind a very long time in the past after I first got here to New York, the very first thing I ever did was bounce on the subway to Spring Road. I used to be simply taking the trip and observing everybody in my automotive. Everybody was so completely different. Nevertheless, everybody has nice concord right here, ? It was then, at that second, that I felt like this was my residence. There’s area for everybody right here. Despite the fact that we don’t converse the identical language, despite the fact that now we have completely different views, it doesn’t matter. So I would like all of that to be integrated into my design parts.
How does your cultural heritage manifest in your designs, and the way do you regularly champion your upbringing by means of your craft?
I at all times begin with a special form of mindset. I’m an immigrant however I’m additionally a self-taught artist. So for me, instinct is actually vital. The expression of 1’s persona by means of not solely textiles but additionally colours and shapes — that’s at all times the enjoyable half. I at all times need to make enjoyable items. I would like my items to be interactive. Once I create items, I create as if I’m having a dialog with the wearer. And it’s identical to after I take heed to music. I take heed to all types of music, from heavy steel to punk to classical. I don’t need to limit myself to only one kind of music, identical to how I don’t need my designs to solely converse to 1 sure viewers.
I like that there are all these completely different locations that you simply draw from in your course of. It yields items that so many individuals can resonate with. In that means, you’re inherently championing range.
Sure. I feel there’s little question 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 artistic souls. Whoever you’re, I would like you to discover a area right here. All the pieces I design can be genderless as a result of I would like anybody to have the ability to put on any of my designs. And when you placed on one among my designs, it turns into a collaboration between us. It’s an ongoing relationship. It makes me actually completely happy to see all of the alternative ways folks put on my garments, even methods I hadn’t considered myself.
Your items are whimsical at instances, however nonetheless incorporate sensible utilitarian parts, like cargo pockets or bungee fasteners. How do you steadiness this dichotomy in your designs?
These two issues will be very completely different, proper? However with Fried Rice, that’s my objective. I do need to create a concord that’s not solely about magnificence but additionally 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 would like folks to really feel like they’ll put on each bit day by day.
“I would like everybody to really feel a way of belonging and to have fun that.”
May you give us just a few 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 centered extra on distinction. One instance is the Hooded Rave Jacket. It’s reversible with two very completely different prints. It’s very wearable and it has a phenomenal 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 regularly encourage you creatively, in addition to personally?
There’s simply a lot need to create and to be artistic. 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 artistic soul — which is just about everybody. I feel we’re all mutually impressed by one another. Often, when folks buy groceries, they decide a bit, make the acquisition, after which the deal is finished. 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 suppose, “That’ll make me look cool.” I would like them to put on the piece to symbolize who they’re to allow them to proceed of their artistic journey. Persons are continuously stopping by the store, and I like that now we have constructed that bond. And my workforce is superb. Each single individual I get to encompass myself with is so superb.
What do you hope is in retailer for the subsequent chapter of Fried Rice?
New York Metropolis is the place I like essentially the most on Earth. And I feel this metropolis is the very 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 would like Fried Rice to proceed to hold on this message and to amplify it. I’d like to make it extra international. I would like folks in all places to put on Fried Rice, irrespective of the place they’re. That’s the important thing. I would like everybody to really feel a way of belonging and to have fun that.