Earnest Huang AAU Fashion Design

Innovative Disconnection


Earnest Huang is an aspiring fashion designer who hails from Taichung in Taiwan. During his time as a student at the Academy of Art University, he won the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Sea Fashion Challenge,” which earned him the opportunity to collaborate with the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco on their employee uniform designs. He completed his MFA Fashion Design degree at the Academy of Art University in Fall 2014. Since graduation he has made the industry focused move to New York City and started a promising internship with Yigal Azrouël.

He premiered his debut Fall 2014 collection, a collaboration with AAU MFA Textile Designer Hong Ni, entitled ‘Hong Kong: Between Spaces’ during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. He is inspired by his personal travels and a combination of his background in sociology and his own experiences adapting to a new country.


Can you describe your ‘Hong Kong: Between Spaces’ collection?
My collection was initially inspired by my personal travels to Hong Kong. I was struck and overwhelmed by the disconnect between the people who were of the lowest classes of society and those with wealth and prestige. The trip brought up the idea of disconnection, which I explored in my collection.
Additionally, I drew on my background in sociology, which enables me to rethink the relationship between spaces, social classes and people. From these ideas, the main mood of the collection was further developed; I was also influenced by the works of photographer Michael Wolf, who primarily focuses on stressful lifestyles in modern Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Earnest Huang AAU Fashion Design Graduate

Your collection is comprised of very unique fabrics. Can you tell us what materials you used to complete your garments?
The photos I took during my time in Hong Kong consisted of blocks between buildings and skyscrapers. These images inspired me to choose see-through materials such as Phifertex and Bird-X [bird repellent netting]. I manipulated them with leather weaving, embroidery, and cutouts to play with their transparent characteristics. Layers-within-layers and transparency are very important points in my collection.

What did you intend to achieve when designing your collection?
I designed what I like to call ‘modern beauty.’ I envision my girl, the girl who represent my target customer, to be strong, independent, well educated, and have a deep and profound desire to run this world.
My collection is the culmination of all of the things I learned in school, including my strength in fabric manipulation, hand-sewing skills, and most of all – my individual aesthetic. My works are an expression of my identity, but I kept in mind wearability when designing.


Earnest Huang AAU Fashion Design Graduate

Earnest Huang

How did it feel to see your completed garments during the runway show?
When I saw the models walk down the runway, my eyes were welling up with tears, because I felt my dreams had finally come true. I felt blessed in the process of building this; the collaboration with Hong Ni was a great match. Her textiles were stunning and lifted my designs to the next level.

What did you find the most challenging when designing your final collection?
It’s interesting because basically all the design elements in my collection, (the leather weaving and the geometrical cut-out details), were all developed with an unintentional connection to the mood of my inspiration: disconnection and depression.

I meant to combine the see-through elements in my collection from the beginning, but struggled a lot to find a way to do so. It was very discouraging and I was under a lot of pressure. I weaved leather simply because it doesnot take a lot of thought to weave. Ultimately, I developed the cutout details from a sketch. These elements were all the result of the huge pressure I felt; yet they surprisingly came out to fit the overall design aesthetic very well.

Earnest Huang AAU Fashion Design Graduate


What is the strongest memory of your last year at AAU?
The night we set up our studio in New York before the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week show. Everyone was busy setting up his or her supplies for the rest of week, and we knew it would be a very stressful and crazy time. Our director walked into the studio—after having worked with all of us for over four months—and he said, “I just want to say good job guys, it is a very strong collection.” That was the most beautiful moment, our eyes were full of tears as we felt our efforts had paid off.

What advice would you give to someone who is about to begin designing his or her first collection?
Go with the flow. Sometimes things will not turn out as you planned or as you thought they would, and you have to accept that. Planning is also very important, make a plan for what should be done. Keeping everything organized will only make your life easier.

Earnest Huang AAU Fashion Design Graduate

What practical resources would you recommend for young fashion designers in your city?
There are a few great stores in the Bay, ImagiKnit, General Beads, and Lacis are a few favorites, but I really think designers should outsource their fabrics. They will find much more interesting things than at the local fabric stores. Local fabric stores are great for saving your ass when you’re really in a hurry, or running out of something.

What have you been doing fashion-wise since graduation? What’s next for you professionally?
Since the show I have relocated to New York and started an internship with Yigal Azrouël. At the same time, I’m reaching out to make connections and gain experience. New York is a city full of energy, and I hope to establish myself here. One day, I plan to launch my own collection and start my own business.



Written by Ashley Castanos

Ashley Castanos

Ashley Castanos is a California native born and raised in Fresno. She is currently earning her MFA in Fashion Journalism at the Academy of Art University. She has been published on FashionsSchoolDaily.com, 7x7SF.com, TheChicSpy.com and has experience covering runways shows and presentations at New York Fashion Week. She is inspired by young creative entrepreneurs and vintage inspired/bohemian fashion.