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Anna Sui Designer Analysis Devyn Johnson 3/18/2013


Anna Sui fashion is a fluid mix between playful and whimsical designs with vintage twists and flowing chiffon, to power play garments with spikes, studs, and leather. Coming from parents who were well traveled before settling in Detroit, Michigan, she grew up with the business knowhow from her engineer father along with the creative side from her painter mother. Even as a child she knew she would become a fashion designer. After reading an article in Life Magazine about two girls who went to Parsons School of Design in New York, then moved to Paris, where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton opened a boutique for them. This fuelled her drive to attention school at Parsons and while attending she landed a job at Charlie’s Girls with Erica Elias. While working there she received design freedom and even had her own work station, drapers, and seamstresses. In 1991 she produced her first runway show, and has since came out with many more, including Fragrance Anna Sui and cosmetic line debut. Many reviews and articles have been written on Sui’s success. Just this past February the New York Times “Punk Merged with Quirky Decoration” By Eric Wilson wrote an article on her latest line. To sum up the review, Sui’s on point with the fashion trends in today’s stores. Many celebrities and women are in powerful positions and Sui’s use of powerful clothing (spikes from the punk rock lifestyle is a level field for both genders) by making denim shorts with a kilt front, while also having a girly flare with the softer fabrics like leopard-print chiffon. Her line has all her signature features of the runway including playful creations and whimsical shows. She takes a fresh approach to color and textures, the saying ‘the more the merrier’ is key, and layers are propionate. Her designs displays baby doll, flappers, and 60’s fashion with current fabric, colors, prints, and trims. Her take on fashion has opened many doors for her, including designing costumes for an anime series Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. Her regular customer targets women from 18-25 years old, the largest contributor being from Japan. Sui’s products range in price points. Her dresses can be from $200-400 depending on the elaborate or plain design of her clothing. Sizes also range from 0-12 depending on where her boutique is locator. Her japan based stores carry smaller sizes to accommodate the customer demand. T-shirts with a simple logo are around $20 on her website, while an iPod case is listed as $101. Her fragrances are on the slightly higher end, around $44-60. As for the fiber content of her clothing, she uses a mix of man-made and natural fabrics. A favorite of hers is chiffon and uses it more often in her fabric choices. Her spring/summer of this year consisted of floral print chiffon, silver sunflower brocade, loose open knit, crochet lace, metallic, and tulle and fishnet. For her Autumn/Winter line for 13/14 consisted of faux fur, knits, crepe de chine, suede, chiffon, burned on velvet and quilted lamé. Sui is still making clothing and still in fashion. Her customer count is growing each season, even having a copy-right battle with Forever 21. Depending on what the customer wants to have, Sui has different price points and selling places for every market. Clothing can be found in her boutique, while perfume can be bought online at her store. Certain dresses, blouses, and pants can be bought at higher end stores such as Nordstrom. Forever 21 and Sui have had a long


standing battle because of their knock offs of her designs, most popular is a white and black stripped dress with red rose trim at the bottom which Forever 21 made into a shirt. Designer Junya Tashiro and Hiroko Koshino designer similar styled garments and are well known Japanese designers. My attention was captured by Anna Sui because of the sheer amount of textures she uses in her designs. The layer she uses, especially in combination with her colors, is exciting and playful. For my senior thesis my own collection has many different variations of layers and fabric manipulated textures. Good design is not simply a piece of fabric cut into a shape to cover you. It is something that has so much potential to be made into something great and it rarely comes from something that’s texture is plain. Her store also shows how creative her mind is and if I even get the chance to I hope to go personally. Others have been influenced by Sui’s clothing. Besides designing for the anime series Gankutsuou, other Japanese cultures have been influenced by her clothing. The Lollita style, best described as a subculture born in japan and based on Rococo and Victorian-era clothing, are very textural dresses, skirts, and blouses. This subculture is heavily influenced by anime and the clothing shown in it. She often says she only will design is current in time and how she sees it. Her designs show her interest in the past fashion of the 20’s flapper, the 60’s silhouette she lived through, and the current rock and roll coolness. In Anna Sui’s own words, “there's always that ambiguity…the Good Girl/Bad Girl thing. All these facets have to go into my designs, or it doesn't look like ‘Anna Sui’.”


Designer Analysis