As a freelance illustrator based in Hong Kong, Andrew Yeung spends most of his time creating and exhibiting his artwork across Asia. A creative before all else; his clothes and illustrations are all a form of self-expression. His wardrobe is a clutter of statement pieces – an amalgam of prints, textures, and colour. With every piece added, he believes that it should be a collective reflection of who he is, and so he exclusively curates vintage products with a design unique to its own.
His room is an open reflection of his colourful personality – with paintings and posters clustered together like puzzle pieces on the wall, and a desk speckled with a variety of odd trinkets like a ketchup-shaped pencil case, an eraser that looks like fingers, and a pencil sharpener in the form of a nose. His clothes are hanging in an open closet, spilling out of shelves and drawers, and for all those who know him – it is safe to say that his style is never monotone.
Can you share with us more about your clothing and intention behind what you wear?
I see fashion as an extension of who I am. Some people wear their heart on their sleeves, I wear it in my entire outfit. That’s why I only shop from vintage stores or wear my own designs. Growing up, my sister worked in Japan so I would often visit her, and we would go shopping at vintage stores. The vintage stores there are unlike the kind in the States, it’s not secondhand clothing but instead unique pieces that were made one off or in limited quantities. About 90% of my closet is vintage, and the pieces that speak to me most are the ones with patterns and colours – because I feel like it is a reflection of my personality.
I REALIZED THAT IN SHOPPING VINTAGE, I WAS MINIMIZING MY ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND IT INSPIRED MY CONVICTION TO CONTINUE DOING SO.
In 2016, I went to Japan to exhibit my own artwork. There were critics there who would come up to me and say “I can see yourself in your art”. That was the highest compliment, to know that who I am extends to what I wear and what I make – I take pride in that kind of synonymous novelty.
There have been a few times (enough to count on one hand) where I’ve see someone else wearing a piece identical to mine. That’s why I would prefer to make my own pieces – I wouldn’t call myself a designer because I don’t make the clothes from scratch, but I love to up-cycle existing pieces and add my own touches to something seemingly ordinary. I’ve also experimented with wearing my sketches, by scanning my prints, then printing them on ready made shirts.
THERE WERE CRITICS THERE WHO WOULD COME UP TO ME AND SAY “I CAN SEE YOURSELF IN YOUR ART”. THAT WAS THE HIGHEST COMPLIMENT, TO KNOW THAT WHO I AM EXTENDS TO WHAT I WEAR AND WHAT I MAKE – I TAKE PRIDE IN THAT KIND OF SYNONYMOUS NOVELTY.
What started out as a way to purchase unique pieces at an affordable price point eventually became something much more. I realized that in shopping vintage, I was minimizing my environmental impact and it inspired my conviction to continue doing so.
Would you say that you have your ideal wardrobe?
Yes! Everything I own right now is timeless, and I can see myself wearing them into the coffin. I’d want to be buried in my clothes, that’s how ideal I think my wardrobe is.
If your house is on fire, what are the five pieces you would save – even if it meant running back into a burning house?
Funny enough, this is actually a question my sisters and I ask each other often. The first would have to be my Big Bang Blazer – I named it that because it reminds me of the Korean band and it makes me feel like I belong on a stage surrounded by spotlights. I’d also take my printed jacket, it’s blocked with letters and patterns of miscellaneous trinkets like a zebra, fish, and the Sydney opera house.
THAT’S HOW ONE FLORAL SHIRT GOT ME ON THE COVER OF A MAGAZINE, AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO FLY TO LONDON FASHION WEEK TO MEET THE DESIGNERS AND PRESS.
The next piece would be my favourite floral collared shirt, I love the memories associated with it. There was a campaign from TOUCH Magazine where a famous photographer would take portraits of anyone with an interesting fashion style. I decided to walk into the the studio and ask for a photo, mostly because I wanted a new picture for my Facebook profile. 2 weeks later, I got a call from the magazine announcing that I was the winner because they were intrigued by my fashion style and thought it would be different to pick a guy for once. That’s how one floral shirt got me on the cover of a magazine, and the opportunity to fly to London Fashion Week to meet the designers and press.
I would also grab with me my USA bomber jacket, I named it Aaron Kwok, after the celebrity in Hong Kong. When I wear it I feel like I’m Aaron Kwok – in a movie scene with explosives blowing up in the background while I ride off in a motorcycle. My mother even saw the connection before I told her what I named the jacket. The last item I would take with me is a paisley floor duster kimono jacket that I bought in Japan.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHAT I WEAR IS JUST AN EXPRESSION OF WHO I AM. OTHERS SEE MY STYLE AND THINK I’M PURPOSEFULLY TRYING TO BE DIFFERENT, OR MAKING A STATEMENT BY BEING WEIRD – BUT THAT’S NOT WHY I WEAR WHAT I WEAR.
What statement do you want to make with the clothes you wear?
Once, I was on the train wearing a mask over my mouth that had tiger fangs painted over it, and the people around me just kept staring. One woman went so far as to tug her boyfriend’s sleeve and point a finger at me. But in LA and Japan, it’s completely different. People in LA are more likely to shout that they love what I wear, and in Japan I get a lot of head nods – there is a mutual respect and understanding that what we wear is an extension of who we are and there is no need for judgement. If I wanted to be in the spotlight, I would do something more extravagant than what I’m doing now.
At the end of the day, what I wear is just an expression of who I am. Others see my style and think I’m purposefully trying to be different, or making a statement by being weird – but that’s not why I wear what I wear. In Hong Kong, even as I’m walking down the street I can feel other people staring at me, and from time to time there are strangers who come up to me and ask “why are you wearing this?”.
We began with the intention to inspire consciousness in our everyday, to cultivate a culture that encourages others to uncover where and why something is made. The Connected Clothing series spotlights on different individuals in the fashion industry – why they wear what they wear and the significance behind their choices.