In our latest SPOTLIGHT piece, Connie Tsai takes us on her journey from an economics major and working in Hong Kong with an artificial Christmas tree manufacturer to studying at the London College of Fashion and launching her debut label, Con Artist.

In 2012, I gave up a relatively stable business career in Hong Kong and moved to London. The sole purpose was to see how far my passion in fashion would get me. I was, and still am, certain many in the field are more talented than I am but it would be a regret I cannot live with if I did not at least give it a try. Despite my lack of prior formal training in design, I was fortunate enough to be accepted to UAL’s womenswear programme. Even more fortunate was the incredible patience my tutors showed me and the inspirations my fellow classmates shared with me.

Through trials and errors, I felt that my comfort zone was finally building and my identity settling during my third year at UAL. It became apparent that my work would never be melodramatic and attention seeking. Instead, it should be functional, made of high quality fabrics, and filled with thoughtful details. Among various techniques, draping resonates with me the most. I find draping a very effective way to bring out a desired silhouette while respecting the natural contour of the body. It gives the wearer and the audience a sense of subtlety and craftsmanship.

Despite having switched careers, my prior working experience and academic background in economics have not entirely escaped me. It is crucial for me to strike a balance between creativity and practicality. I see several highly artistic designers for whom I have great respect. Nonetheless, it pains me to see their works only viewed as art – but not garments that could communicate with the wearer. However my designs and techniques may evolve over time, the goal of Con Artist would never change, which is to strike a conversation with its customers. I hope that my garments would empower the wearer’s identity while the wearer would appreciate their quality and subtlety. I hope they are pieces that could last for years, prove to be good value and a consistent representation of the wearer’s style.