J E Cai designer Jiaen Cai
We will love to share an exciting interview with J E designer Jiaen Cai. Jiaen Cai is the designer of London based womenswear brand J E Cai. His creations truly stands out from the rest of the crowd. It gives the wearer more control and countless design options by creating a system of interchangeable pieces that can change the way you look. We had a pleasure to have a quick chat with him, his creations and the direction he wants to take them towards.1. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how did you get into fashion?
I graduated from London College of Fashion and the Royal College of Art. Since graduating, I gained experience at Alexander Wang, Claire Barrow, Mattew Miller, Xander Zhou and won the international Talent support 2019 ITS Fashion@Work by illy Award. I used to paint since I was a child and my mom have lots of fashion magazine I guess that is how I started into fashion
2. In the world of fashion where the mentality of “Everything has been done and there is nothing new to do” prevails predominantly, you have introduced us to a completely new way of dressing up with endless possibilities. Can you tell us about it and how does it work?
I create the Algorithmic Modular System [AMS] which follows the ancient ideology that one system can breed infinite possibilities. To assemble your products, you attach and detach Basics (10), Components (100) or Extra Components (1000) by using the fastening mechanisms located on the connecting points. From zippers to buttons, these fastening mechanisms are elegant in design and allow you to personalise your own uniform.
3. Where did the idea come from and how challenging was it to bring it to life from a concept?
The Algorithmic Modular System (1) is comprised of base layers (10), components (100) and extra components (1000). These numeric values draw inspiration from Tao Te Ching, written by Laozi, the founder of Taoism. In the 42nd chapter it says "道生一，一生二，二生三，三生万物" which means "Tao breeds one, one breeds two, two breeds three, and three breeds everything".
In this ancient philosophy, Taozi explains how everything in the world is formed, from nothing to one, from one to many. It has been very challenging to create it because that means you need to build a pattern data base and not just create looks because every pattern data is link in order for them to interchange.4. Your interchangeable component system that you call Algorithmic Modular System or AMS sounds quite complicated. How easy it is to actually play around with different components and for the wearer to give it her own twist?
For example the most easy one and obvious one is you can choose different down attachment components for jacket or bustier that make the whole looks instantly look different .5. Who is an ideal J E Cai customer and what statement is she giving out by wearing these garments?
JE CAI products are tailored for the modern intellectual. One illustrative example of this concept lies in the realm of fashion customization. For instance, a simple yet impactful strategy involves selecting diverse down attachment components for a jacket or bustier. By opting for distinct attachments, such as unique buttons, clasps, or embellishments, one can effortlessly transform.
The overall appearance of the garment. And More For instance, a simple yet impactful strategy for enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a jacket or bustier. Involves selecting diverse down attachment components. By opting for distinct attachments, such as unique buttons, clasps, or embellishments. One can effortlessly transform the overall appearance of the garment. Moreover, this approach not only allows for creative customization but also provides an opportunity to showcase individual style preferences. In essence, the careful curation of varied attachment elements serves as a versatile means to elevate and personalize fashion choices, making the attire stand out with unique and eye-catching details
This straightforward adjustment serves as a testament to the power of subtle details, showcasing how a thoughtful choice in down attachment components can instantly imbue a garment with a distinct and novel aesthetic.
6. Are these garments gender neutral or do you plan to do menswear too?
Garments now are only for women but of course, I will do menswear in the future because this thinking method for menswear is very straightforward.7. You were born and raised in China, how do you combine the East and West in your designs and what elements do you like to take from each?
I like to combine the thinking way of the West and the East. When I came up with the idea for the system I’d been reading around Taoism, an ancient Chinese spiritual practice.
The founder, Laozi had this line that really stuck with me, & quota; Tao breeds one, one breeds two, two breeds three, and three breeds everything.” The idea being that everything in the world is formed from nothing to one or from one to many. This really resonated with me, I liked the idea of everything having infinite possibilities.
I also can see that my own personality had a big part to play in coming up with this design philosophy. I have a tendency to control my emotions, I guess I see them like water within my own rational box.
Having rules in place helps me deal with certain situations more easily and under my design system. There is an infinite amount of space for growth and freedom. But it’s all held in place by the stability of the foundations. but in the meantime. I also twist the Eastern and the Western visual language together .8. Before starting your own brand, you worked for several designers. How was that experience for you and how did it help you prepare for your own adventure?
Those experience were important for me as they helped me to build connection and specially know. The whole process from design to production.9. By giving wearer an option to wear same pieces in different ways with endless possibilities, you are reducing the amount of clothes they need to have in their wardrobe making it essentially very sustainable. Was that always in your mind or it was a byproduct of your design philosophy?
Yes that is the intention but in reality there is still a long process to go .
10. Having a unique and interesting clothing line that is praised by media is one thing and convincing the customers to part from their hard earned money to own your pieces is another. How successful do you think you have been in that aspect so far and how has been the customer response been?
Still long way to go. At the moment my price point is too high. I need to bring the cost down in order for customer to get into system more easily. I also need to produce more detailed instruction material for the customer. So that they can understand clearly how to create and use different options available.11. In what direction do you want to take the future collection? Do you have a certain plan in mind or will you like it to grow organically?
In the next collection, I want to bring some print and strong colors. The more contradictory elements like draping mix with uniformity and I hope this ideology can present itself beyond fashion .
12. What has been the highlight of 2023 and what are you looking forward to in the year 2024?
The biggest highlight of this year was my first on schedule catwalk in London fashion week. So I am looking forward to growing my brand and spreading my philosophy further in 2024.