The 8 Ball: Szeki Chan
7115 was founded by designer Szeki Chan in 2008. With a focus on high-quality and functional basics, 7115 has two storefronts, one in New York and one in Copenhagen. Szeki describes 7115 as “pragmatic, well-crafted, attainable” and “serves you well”. We enjoyed getting to know the woman behind one of our favorite lines and we hope you do too.
Please tell us how you got started in designing clothing. What did this path look like for you?
I started designing clothing when I was still a singer. I was troubled by the way that I was styled, it made me feel uncomfortable and very self-conscious which is not very good for performing. So I started to draw pieces that I envisioned myself wearing on and off stage, and that was how I began dabbling with designing clothes. But my path to becoming a designer didn't start until a little further down the road. After I walked away from my singing career back in Hong Kong, I went back to New York where I had studied. I made jewelry and became a street vendor for a little while. That's when I realized my love for retail. I liked the interaction and the feedback you get. I was enjoying myself quite a bit until I got busted by the police for my makeshift street stand. Then I decided it was time to rent a proper storefront on the same street in LES to continue my little business. My first store was super tiny, but even so, to stock it with only jewelry was impossible. So I looked into my old designs from my singer days and decided to take a risk. I did a very small run production for a few of my best styles, and that was the very beginning of 7115.
How would you describe 7115 by Szeki?
Pragmatic, well-crafted, attainable, "serves you well".
Your Copenhagen space looks absolutely beautiful! Why did you choose Copenhagen as your latest store location?
I liked Copenhagen the first time I went there on a work trip for Copenhagen fashion week. I don't often fall for new places that easily. I kept falling for it a little bit more every time I went back. I enjoyed the pace of the city and the industry. It's neither fast nor slow. It made sense for 7115 because it really spoke to our philosophy and the way I design. The idea of having a 7115 store there was always at the back of my head, but honestly, it just felt like a pipe dream. Then on one of those work trips, I walked past an empty storefront on Klosterstræde. I fell in love with it and I knew that I needed to open a store right at that spot. It felt like a sign.
Favorite spots in Copenhagen?
Frederiksberg Gardens: I love walking through parks. This one has a zoo. If you take a walk super early, you can see the elephants up close.
Hyggestund: Our favorite brunch spot.
Favorite spots in NYC?
Too many to name! Tomoe Sushi, Caffe Vita on Ludlow St, Essex Street Market, Cafe Mogador in the East Village, West~bourne, Black Seed Bagel, Tompkin Square Park, Davey's Ice Cream, Pho Grand, Congee Village. I can go on and on....
Tell us about your in-house production team in China and how you decided to produce so close to your original home?
It was quite a natural decision to produce close to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is where I grew up and where my family still lives. Not only am I able to speak the same dialect (Cantonese) with my team in Guangzhou City, but it's only an hour away from Hong Kong. The convenience of being able to see my family and my team every time I travel back is a huge plus. It is essential to my work that I have fluidity between all parts of 7115.
How does something end up in your Signature Collection?
Signature Collection styles are those that embody the ideals of 7115. They are usually styles that get a lot of love from all our stores across the board and can be worn day-in, day-out. Usually, they start out as seasonal editions (that we normally only produce once). If the design shows promise across a range of different demographics, then we will consider to include the style for our Signature Collection. I talk with my team and my customers and see how people interact with these styles in-stores and in their day-to-day lives. By doing this I’m also able to gather a lot of first hand feedback which then allows me to further improve the design. I love feedback. When the design reaches a stage where I feel it has universal wearability, then it goes into the Signature collection.
The 7115 piece you find yourself wearing the most often?
The Dolman Shirt and the Pleated Skate Trouser. I’ve been living in this combo.