態度/DSSENT IS THE LABEL. BEN HONG

DSSENT_1000PX

Illustration : Olivia Wong
Interview : SPITZ
CN : Serruria

這就是Ben Hong,微博上的中文名字是洪裕渊。Ben Hong在台北經營和設計自己的品牌-DSSENT。我們發現DSSENT,是源於品牌最近贊助了香港地下饒舌團體Retox’D。SPITGAN仔細研究DSSENT,像發現了新大陸,台灣街頭服配件的新大陸!品牌主要的單品有帽子,最近發表的系列裡更有醒目的graphic tee和超型格的concert towel。DSSENT經常出沒,在本土的街頭文化裡無人不識。DSSENT一看就是那種派對的中心人物,我們當然沒有放過訪問創辦人的機會! 放馬過來!

This is Ben Hong. Ben runs and designs his own label in Taipei called DSSENT. DSSENT came to our attention recently from its sponsorship of Hong Kong Hip Hop misfits, RETOX’D. Putting a microscope to the thread, SPITGAN found a whole new world of street goodies across the straights in Taiwan. Predominantly hats, recent collections have started add on with clever graphics on T-shirts and even cool ass concert towels. Also, DSSENT is hyperactive. You can’t ignore their presence in the local street culture scene. These cats look like they know where the party’s at in Taiwan so we had to find out, ‘whatta ‘gwan?’

(English continued after Chinese)

SPITGAN – Hey Ben, 告訴我們一點關於你自己的事和你的設計背景吧。
BEN HONG – 我在波士頓讀大學,念工業設計,這就是我的背景。念完設計後就回到我的出身地台灣,去協助我父親的電子業務。工作也是關於設計,但都不是我真正想做的,我比較想做創造性高一點的設計。過了幾年,幫著家人的同時,我開始轉向衣服設計,就是現在的DSSENT。由在傳統電子工業做設計,轉到我現在所做的…有點那個。對一個台灣人來說,在這個行業,設計於創意沒有必然聯繫。你可以大量為著OEM或ODM產業做設計,但這未必一定是有創意、有影響力或有趣。我跟我的父親有過一段詳談,是關於轉移更多我的設計時間去設計衣飾,因為對於我來說是比較有趣和刺激。

SG – 你一向都喜歡服飾類的東西嗎?
B – 我想我和你都一樣吧。我們都在很受西方文化影響的社會長大,受著不同的藝術、塗鴉文化之類的影響。從小我都喜歡玩滑板和塗鴉,所以自然地我很受那些文化地影響,從而也影響到我地衣著。

SG – 你是念完全不同的一種設計出身,那你認為對於設計,會有共通的主題這回事嗎?例如說,如果你有天分、有洞見,只要有了相關的操作知識是不是你就可以當工業設計師,如學了CAD,你就可以轉型當建築師嗎?“意念”來說,都是來自一個源頭嗎?
B – 概括來說,設計都是差不多。工業設計、環境設計等等,在不同的國家、不同的範疇執業時,情況都不一樣。對於我來說,在台灣,這就非常不有趣甚至沈悶。像我之前說的,要做很多OEM/ODM業務。現在我做成衣、做設計,這像是一個設計的天堂,是一個讓我釋放創意的地方。對於我來說也有難度,畢竟我的背景是工業設計,沒有甚麼時裝設計的經驗。怎麼說,要實現想做的,你就一定要為你的熱誠加倍努力,試著實行。

SG – 那,台灣的街頭文化現在是甚麼狀況?
B – 過去十年都在發展中。香港和日本的公司一向都有龐大的地下街頭文化市場支撐,但是台灣近來也急起直追。除了運動、滑板,台灣的Hip Hop文化越來越受注目。就是,舉個例子,拿到台灣格林美-金曲獎-的最佳女新人是個Hip Hop MC。街頭文化真的很熱烈,這很好。

SG – 我卻不覺得你們比香港遜色。你們在台灣似乎比香港得到更大的支持,由藝人到場地等等。
B – 我們在過去十年實在非常努力。已經有更多台灣品牌、藝人,還有不同的人加入。

SG – DSSENT最突特的部份是,很多你們的設計都像跟其他Hip Hop品牌有合作。你們是一個大合作企劃的一員嗎?還是你們是順著文化的大隊走?
B – 我們和好多人都很親近,那些Hip Hop界的人都是好朋友。所有人都支持著Hip Hop文化。每次我們有產品推出,他們就支持;他們有演出或甚麼活動,我們也一樣去支持。就像整個地下群體本身就是一個共同體一樣。

SG – 你們會說品牌是一個Hip Hop品牌多於一個街頭品牌嗎?
B – 不會啊,我們是一個有Hip Hop元素的街頭品牌。

SG – 你們經營了DSSENT多久?
B – 剛開始的時候我們是活動搞手,在05年開始。我們做了很多演出、展覽、活動、派對等等。然後我們開始做衣服。

SG – 第一個系列是怎樣的?
B – 遜斃了。現在已經是第四、五個系列,有了經驗後一切也不同了。第一個系列啊,我們選的衣料、那個造工…回想那次,現在我們真的進步不少。我們現在是一個更好的品牌,所有都是質量 、質量 、質量 。

SG – 你們都在台灣生產嗎?
B – 我們主要的產品是頭戴的配飾。85-90%是頭戴配飾、Snapbacks(後扣棒球帽),台灣製造。都是我們設計的。我們的Snapbacks在台中這裡生產,台中也是頭戴配飾的世界生產中心。台中就是我們開始的地方,我們的工廠非常厲害。

SG – 你們品牌如何在芸芸品牌裡突圍?
B – 我不想說突圍,所有品牌都有自己的方向和概念。我們DSSENT的獨特點就是我們的選擇,無論是設計師或是我們台灣製造的物料。要說突圍,可能就是我們擅長設計吧。

SG – 質量,是不是你們強調的?
B – 正是!設計完我們的產品再發送給顧客後,我們希望他們會看得出,這個來自台灣的品牌絕對可以妣美大品牌。質量是我們主要的考量。說真的,我們不知名。我們走到柏林、長灘,人們會問我們來自哪裡,我們會說我們是來自台灣街頭服品牌。他們不會知道這是甚麼意思,所以產品一定先要能夠代表好質量。

SG – 我覺得人們會對於亞洲的出品很有興趣。中國也是一個大話題,人人都想知道那裡發生著甚麼事。
B – 真的挺有趣。你看,好多美國的品牌背後的都是亞洲人,有廣東背景或是台灣人後裔之類的。

SG – 我們可以如何買到DSSENT的產品?銷售的網絡在擴充嗎?
B – 我們現在積極發展美國和歐洲市場,這也是我們剩餘一年還有2014年初的重點。在香港還不能買到DSSENT吧,至少現在還不能。為了全球的顧客,我們已經在籌備網上商店了。網站是雙語的,中文和英文,十月尾會正式營業。在台灣,哪裡都可以買到DSSENT吧。

SG – 中國呢?
B – 尚未。

SG – 是很不同程度的市場嗎?不同的規矩?
B – 我們過去兩年也試著打開中國市場。我們不時也去中國,和百貨店、服裝店周旋。但是我們經常遇到兩難。街頭服是為街頭的民眾而設的,但是在中國,街頭文化還是很初階,綜括來說,還沒有足夠的人能真正了解甚麼是街頭服,或是願意付錢購買街頭服。

SG – 你衣服的剪裁是比較90年代的Hip Hop剪裁嗎?鬆身?
B – 是的,剪裁很美國,非常鬆身。我會說是西岸風格,好輕鬆的那種。

SG – 我好喜歡,現在很多東西都出奇的緊身,很注重身形,哈哈哈。
B – 對啊,其實我們設計很鬆身,都是因為我們是比較另類的。我們都有啤酒肚子然後我們都需要一些遮掩。

SG – 在圖像設計上,你們帶來了挺新穎的設計,可以說說你們受甚麼影響嗎?
B – 除了我們自己的設計師,我們和很多本地或國外的藝術家都有一起工作。我們嘗試一起合作,把他們的插畫圖像融合我們產品,然後向世界展示他們的作品。

SG – 和不同人合作,是你創立品牌時就有的意念嗎?
B – 這就要回到我們開始的時候。我們本身認識那些藝術家,我們都是好朋友。我們只是想一起工作一起享受樂趣,做一些很酷的事情,給一些會欣賞的人。

SG – 告訴我們一些你們和123Klan合作Tshirt的東西?
B – 好啊。我們九月會和這個法國塗鴉先鋒團隊123Klan有新的發佈。123Klan在90年代初出現,他們由傳統的塗鴉風格轉去用電腦來創作塗鴉。他們得到很多原本不是喜歡塗鴉的人的喜愛,他們就是這樣地獨特,去到了一種更高階地創作的境界。

SG – 你們如何認識?
B – 我們在07年一起參與展覽,我們保持了聯絡。

SG – 甚麼是Arsenal?
B – Arsenal原本是我們的服飾店。現在我們重點投放在網上,所以Arsenal會是我們的網上商店,你可以在那裡買到所有裝備。

SG – 厲害。甚麼是RADIKAL?
G – RADIKAL是我們每月派發的一份免費報刊。它的特別之處在於它是由一張特大的海報折成的刊物。所以每個月你會得到兩張大海報。有一張是一位我們訪問的國際藝人,還有附上訪問的文章和讀者分享。另外一張大概是合集了本地專欄作家的專題,他們寫關於音樂、電影、文化、社會等等。

SG – 是雙語的嗎?
B – 其實開頭的三期是三語的!英文、中文和日文。但工作量實在太大,所以我們現在只是做中文,主要是為台灣讀者。

SG – 為設計加入中式元素是你的標記風格嗎?
B – 不一定。這是第一次,因為我覺得蛇年這事情很酷,我的意思是,如果是雞年…我就不確定…

SG – 對啊!哈哈…上一年呢?是龍年啊!
B – 對,我們錯過了…我們是一個台灣品牌,所以我一向都想把中式概念納入品牌設計然後展示世界。

SG – 很好,我會知道這是中國的特色,但不一定會是台灣特色。在香港,某種原因讓我感覺不到人們很支持他們的歷史背景呢。
B – 我很喜歡把我的產品帶到海外給我的朋友,然後告訴他們這是從“遠東”來的。上年我們做了一個帽子,叫做“Enter The Dragon”,有四種顏色,我們選了絲綢作布料。絲綢的Snapback,就像以前皇帝會戴的一樣。

SG – 如果錢不是阻礙的話,你會收藏甚麼東西?
B – 多的很欸。我現在還是會買CD,很上癮,帽子也是。我們是做頭戴飾品的,每當見到對眼的帽子我都一定會把它帶走。還有甚麼呢…我喜紅酒。

SG – 喔,OK,紅酒會貴到炸掉欸。
B – 我現在很沈迷這東西,我現在就想喝一口!

SG – 台灣誰會是下一個帶領潮流的?
B – 我會說,在我這一行,Soft Lipa。他是來自台灣的Hip Hop饒舌手。他一定會更加受歡迎。在同一個廠牌下也有個冒起的新星Miss Ko,來自紐約的女饒舌手,用中文和英文來饒舌。還有來自南台北的頑童,MJ116,他們也是帶領著台灣的嘻哈穿著與 hardcore的嘻哈音樂。

SG – 藝術呢?
B – 很有趣,最近台灣有個很受歡迎的潮流,在Facebook上。有很多插畫,很簡單甚至畫的“很差”,看像亂畫一通。那些插畫會評論世界發生的事,例如是關於社會議題。漫畫或插畫都會有對社會的評論。台灣有好幾種這樣的插畫師在Facebook上建立名聲。還有一個插畫師是我們RADIKAL緊密合作的,叫做Cherng。兩個月前他在香港有過展覽。

SG – 音樂會是DSSENT的DNA嗎?
B – 是啊,音樂是一大部份。DSSENT與別不同的地方是我們不斷有活動宣傳,無論是有關音樂、藝術、甚至攝影。我們是一個衣服品牌,但是我們一向也希望讓大家知道如果要持續支持或推動一個文化,大家一定要更注重文化的那面。

(English Con’t)

SPITGAN – Hey Ben, break it down for us. Tell us a bit about you and your design background?
BEN HONG – I did my undergraduate studies in Boston. Industrial design, that’s my background. I studied design back in college, and after that I came back to Taiwan, my hometown, and helped my father in his electronic business. I did design work, but that’s not really what I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to do a more creative part of designing. Years past. Helping my family, I started leaning towards clothing design, which is DSSENT right now. So the shift from designing in the traditional electronics industry, to what I’m doing now is…you know. Being a Taiwanese (person), in this industry, design and creativity do not necessarily have that connection. Your always manufacturing for OEM or ODM businesses. Its not really creative, influential or exciting at all. I had a long talk with my dad about shifting my design more into fashion and apparel, which is more exciting and lively.

SG – Where you always interested in gear, clothes?
B – I think it was the same for you and me. We grew up in a society that’s been influenced by the western world. Influenced by art, graffiti and all that stuff. From childhood, I was always fond of skate and graffiti culture. So I was naturally influenced by that culture and how they dressed.

SG – Do you think in design, because you studied a different form of design, there is a common theme in all design. For instance, you. You have this vision, this talent. Is it just a matter of learning a program and some basics and you could do industrial design, or learning CAD and you’ve shifted to architecture? Do the ideas have the same source?
B – I would say, in general, designing is quite the same. Industry-wise and evironmental-wise, meaning what country your in, for practicing in that field is quite different. For me, being in Taiwan, its supposedly not exciting at all. As I said before your doing a lot of OEM/ODM business. I’m doing apparel right now, designing. In a way, it’s like a haven for me to practice design. Its a way for me to release my creative energies. Its tough because I came from industrial design. I have no background in fashion design. How do I put it…You’ve just got to go the extra mile to meet your passion, to execute.

SG – What is happening in street culture in Taiwan right now?
B – For the past 10 years its been on the rise. For companies in Japan and Hong Kong, there’s always been an underground for street cultures, but you really have to be here to see how aggressive it is right now. Besides the sports, like skate, the Taiwanese Hip Hop scene has been on the rise. I mean, for example, the best rising star for the Taiwan ‘Grammy’ is a female Hip Hop MC. So the street scene here is very exciting. It’s great.

SG – I don’t look at you guys playing second fiddle to Hong Kong at all. It looks like you guys have a lot more support for it there. From the artists you support to the venues etc.
B – We’ve really tried hard for the last 10 years. There are more Taiwanese brands, more Taiwanese artists, more people involved.

SG – As DSSENT, that’s a very prominent part of your brand. A lot of the material we see from you, you seem to have a collective, a partnership with other Hip Hop cats. Are you guys part of a greater collective or just ’bout it ’bout it with the culture?
B – We’re just homies with everyone. These people involved with Hip Hop are just good friends. Everyone is supporting the culture. Everytime we have products out, they rep it, or they have a concert or event and we go support. Its more like the whole underground scene is a collective itself.

SG – Would you say, more than a street brand you guys are a Hip Hop brand?
B – Naw. We’re a street brand that digs Hip Hop.

SG – How long have you guys been doing DSSENT?
B – First of all. We started as an event promoter. We started back in ’05. We did a lot of gigs, exhibitions, events, parties etc. Then we went into clothing.

SG – What was the first collection like?
B – It was like crap. We’re into our fourth or fifth collection, and now with experience its a lot different. The first collection, the textiles we chose, the craftsmanship…To look back we’ve really improved a lot. We’re a better brand now. Everything is quality, quality, quality.

SG – You guys mostly manufacture in Taiwan?
B – Our main product line is our headwear. 85-90% of our product is headwear, snapbacks, made in Taiwan. They are our own designs. Our own snapbacks, are manufactured here in Taizung, which is the heart of the world’s headwear (manufacturing). This is where it all started, Taizung. Our factory here is primetime.

SG – What seperates you from other brands?
B – I don’t want to say seperates me. Every brand has its own directions and concepts. For us, DSSENT, its our designers, our fabrics, that are made in Taiwan and our selections; our design expertise I would say.

SG – Quality. Is that an emphasis?
B – Oh yeah! After designing our product line and sending it out to customers, you want them to see that this brand from Taiwan, makes top quality products that can compare to the big brands. Quality is definitely one of the main concerns. Seriously, we’re underdogs. We go out to Berlin, to Long Beach, people will ask, ‘Where are you from?’ We will tell them we’re a streetwear brand from Taiwan. They don’t know. The product has to speak for itself.

SG – I think people will be very interested in seeing more from Asia. China is such a big news topic. People want to know what’s up.
B – Its quite interesting. You look back at a lot of US brands, the people behind the brands are Asian. From Cantonese backgrounds, Taiwanese decendants, its like that.

SG – Where can we get DSSENT merchandise. Is this network expanding?
B – We’re eagerly pushing to the US and Europe. That’s what we’re focused on for the rest of the year and the start of 2014. I don’t think you can buy DSSENT in HK, yet. We are opening our online store for the global market, bilingual, English and Chinese, available at the end of September. You can get it throughout Taiwan, everywhere.

SG – China?
B – Not yet.

SG – Is that a whole different level? Different rules?
B – We’ve been trying to go into China for the last 2 years. We travel there quite a lot. Dealing with department stores, boutiques, but we always encounter a dilemma. Streetwear is built from the people from the street. In China, the people involved with the scene are still quite green, on a whole. There is not really a large demographic that really understands what streetwear is or is willing to purchase it.

SG – The cut of your clothes. Is it more of a 90’s Hip Hop cut? Loose?
B – Yes, the cutting is very American. Very loose. I would say very West Coast, the chillin’ type.

SG – I like that. Nowadays stuff is getting mad tight, body consious. Hahah…
B – Yeah, well the reason we do it that way, is because we’re all pretty hardcore freakers. We all have beer bellies and we need to cover it up.

SG – Graphically you guys bring some pretty fresh influences to the table. Can you talk about your influences?
B – Besides our own original designs, we work closely with other artists, be it local or international. We try to collaborate with them. Put their graphics on our products. Expose their artwork to the rest of the world.

SG – Was that always an idea from the beginning when you started the brand, to collaborate?
B – It goes back to how we started. We knew all these artists, our homies. We just wanted to work together, have fun. Do some cool stuff for the people that like it.

SG – Tell us about this shirt you have coming out with 123Klan?
B – Yeah. We have this new release coming out with this pioneer French graffiti crew, 123Klan. That will drop in September. I think 123Klan started in the early 90’s. They switched from traditional graffiti styles to making it with computers. That got them a lot of likes from non-traditional graffiti fans. So that seperated them a bit and took them to a higher level of creation.

SG – How did you guys hook up with them?
B – We did an exhibition back in ’07 (with them). We just kept in contact.

SG – What is Arsenal?
B – Arsenal used to be our boutique. Now we’re more focused on the web, so that will be our online store. Its the arsenal. That’s where you keep all your weapons.

SG – Dope. What is RADIKAL?
B – RADIKAL is a free paper, a magazine that we release every month. The special thing about it is, it’s a big, giant poster, folded into a magazine. So every month, you actually get two large posters. One is of a featured international artist, with an interview shared to our readers. The other poster is more of a feature column here by local writers. They focus more on music, movies, culture, society, things like that.

SG – Is it bilingual?
B – Actually for the first three issues, it was trilingual! It was English, Japanese, and Chinese. That’s just too much work. So we shifted it to Chinese and focused it in Taiwan for now.

SG – Is it a trademark element of yours to add some Chinese elements to your designs?
B – Not necessarily. This is the first time, ‘cuz Year of the Snake is cool. I mean if it was Year of the Chicken, I don’t know…

SG – Right! Haha…What about last year? Last year was the Year of the Dragon?!
B – Yeah, we missed Year of the Dragon…I mean, we’re a Taiwanese brand. So I’m always wanting to put some Chinese concepts into the brand to showcase to the rest of the world.

SG – Nice. I feel that’s a feature of China, I don’t know about Taiwan. In Hong Kong, I don’t feel people are too into supporting their heritage here for some reason.
B – I like to bring my products overseas to my friends, and show them that this is from the Far East. We did a hat last year called, ‘Enter The Dragon’. It came in 4 colorways and the fabric we chose for it was silk. A silk snapback, it’s very much what the Emperor would wear.

SG – Is there anything you collect, where money is no object?
B – There’s a shitload. I’m still a CD buyer. It’s addictive. Hats too. We’re in headwear. Whenever there’s a cool hat, I need to grab on to it. What else…I love wine.

SG – Oh. Ok. That shit is expensive dude.
B – I’m so into that shit, I want to drink some of it right now!

SG – Who’s got next in Taiwan?
B – I would say from the industry I’m involved in, Soft Lipa. He’s a Hip Hop artist from Taiwan. He’s the man, he’s definitely coming up. From the same label, that rising star, Miss Ko. She’s a female rapper from New York, that raps in Chinese and English.

SG – Art?
B – Very interesting, recently in Taiwan there is a very popular trend on Facebook. There’s these illustrations, done poorly. It looks like a doodle. It comments on what is going on in the world, say society. It’s comics with social comment. There’s quite a few of those illustrators out there from Taiwan, gaining their reputations from Facebook. There’s also this artist, we, the RADIKAL group, work closely with. His name is Cherng. 2 months ago, I believe he had an exhibition in Hong Kong.

SG – Is music in the DNA of DSSENT?
B – Yeah. Music plays a big part. What makes DSSENT different here is we constantly promote events. Music-wise, art-wise, even photography. It’s an apparel brand but we constantly want to let the people know that, if you want to continue to support this culture, or push this culture, you’ve got to have more of the culture side.

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