Duy Tran’s journey from Depop seller to founder of a prestigious women’s label is nothing short of sensational; when one looks at Fancì clothes, it's not hard to see how he got to where he is in just his early twenties. Based in Ho Chi Minh City and from the southern Vietnamese province of Long An, Tran’s fashion roots were in upcycling and selling second hand clothes on the Internet fashion world. Alongside his inspirations like Gaultier and Westwood, both known for their commitment to intrepid feminine representations, Tran stays true to himself by being culturally reflective through Fancì clothing.
In only a few years, Fancì Club has become that brand - with Bella Hadid, Gabbriette, Doja Cat, and Caroline Polachek already on the list of feminine icons dressed in their clothing. In an evocation of the emotional turmoil of being a woman, Fancì Club’s latest SS23 collection Colour of Unadulterated Insanity rips the dark, bold, razor-sharp elements hidden deep inside all women and materialise them into Unadulterated Princess dresses, Devil’s Delight corsets, and Orgasm skirts. Human elements often labeled unattractive or unfeminine when invoked by women, are instead embraced by Fancì; they are transformed into bewitching designs driven by the authentic portrayal of the spirit of, particularly southern, Vietnamese women. Despite their rapid growth, Fancì stays grounded, willing and devoted to keep Vietnamese women as the centre of their universe, certain that their strength is an identifiable trait for women everywhere.
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The last 5 years have been a windfall for Fancì Club founder, Duy Tran. Arising first from Depop’s internet fashion world, like countless other boutiques and designers of this day and age, Fancì Club erupted onto the main stage 2 years ago and shows no signs of stopping. Alongside the evolution of your business, how has your life changed since 2021?
There are more responsibilities as a founder that I must fulfill as the brand is growing. Besides developing the company structure and system, my team and I have to maintain and develop the quality and service to show our respect for the customer and those who have been supporting us. It can be a lot to handle when at first, but I reckon the brand and I grew simultaneously so everything can work out in the end. The past 2 years marked the greatest progress of my personal growth which directly influenced my understanding and perception of beauty. The SS23 collection will feature my reflection on life and things that I have contemplated during my work and personal growth.
Was there anything you learnt from starting out on Depop as a second-hand seller and an up-cycler of pre-loved clothing?
The process of upcycling allows me to be very experimental with a wide range of materials. That fabric is very versatile and can surprise you in many different ways, even with material that is considered too tacky to handle. This is the reason why a lot of Fancì’s designs are still fully incorporating deadstock material even until the latest mini collection The Lethal Roses. Moreover, working with vintage or second-hand clothing customers was a process to learn about what will remain timeless to people and our planet. In other words, pre-loved clothing allows me to observe the previous trend and reminds me to be conscious while creating instead of chasing something unsustainable and potentially harmful to the environment that we are living in.
You were born in the South Vietnam province of Long An and have never visited the United States, yet your work has caught the eye of so many Western countries. Did you ever anticipate that Fancì Club would reach this level of success so far from its geographical origins?
Honestly, I never would have imagined that Fancì would reach somewhere so far away from where I come from. This only shows how beauty does not have any boundaries, and fashion does not have any exclusive language of its own. Fancì’s journey is solid proof that all of us living beings can join together to celebrate a philosophy that we all believe in. This is the ulterior success that my team and I are extremely proud of beyond anything else.
Fancì Club’s latest collection embodies dark femininity, even bordering on the Gothic style, but still manages to coalesce the mystique of these two aesthetics with what the internet has baptised Princess- and Coquette-core. Although it was launched not too long ago, you have been teasing Spring/Summer 2023’s Colour of Unadulterated Insanity since February. How does it feel to have finally launched this sexually liberated collection?
Most of Fancì’s designs are labeled as "sexually provocative” so I suppose this collection is not a surprise after all. Femininity in the post-modern era is often associated with the struggle for power or the imagery of a damsel in distress. I feel responsible for diversifying femininity and making it grow away from the stereotypical concept that was traditionally defined by pop culture. In the SS23 collection, we are taking a step further in exploring different nuances of femininity through both coarse denim and the sensual sensation of silk. Even though I do not represent women or the essence of femininity, being surrounded by many strong and confident women shows me how femininity still needs better representation, especially in the fashion industry. Thus, when this collection was finally released, I felt like what I have accumulated through learning and experiencing femininity finally materialised. I am also grateful for all the women around me who gave me inspiration and refinement to carry out this collection.
In your own words, Fancì Club champions the discovery of a “new definition of femininity.” How would you define contemporary femininity and what have your pieces unlocked in this respect?
We never really identified our brand as defining “the new femininity”. We are not a pioneer of anything. We only portray things that we see in all human beings around us, the feminine qualities that we saw in art, literature, or mundane activities that we witnessed every day. If I were to describe our job, it would be to redefine the femininity already existing by translating it through our own language in fashion in order to shed light on those that are unheard and the beauty that is unseen. Femininity has always been the same to me, but the perception of people and how we portray femininity is what has changed. We only happen to live and create art in the contemporary age, working with our own femininity, helping people understand it better than in the past, and for some reason, becoming one of a few to speak about femininity in such a manner. I do believe a lot of people can relate and connect with our designs because they already possess confidence, love, and kindness. These existing qualities together with our approach are what we considered the “new femininity” of the contemporary age.
Followers of Fancì Club seem very in touch with the brand’s news and interact with your Instagram posts, many have been making connections between your designs and Japanese video game characters. A popular belief is that the Mortal Holy Grail Dress and A Virgin Sex Symbol Gown and the ways in which they are embodied by model Minh Thùy, were inspired by Hideki Kamiya’s Bayonetta. Would you say that you adopt a multi-media approach during the process of acquiring inspiration to produce designs?
Actually, I do not have much knowledge about video game culture. I did some research about the character that you mentioned and I understood why you made the comparison. I agree that there is an aesthetic similarity between the Fancì girls and Bayonetta as they are both portrayed as strong and stylish women, giving people a woman-boss vibe. I will not make any further comparisons as I possess a limited knowledge of gaming.
Initially, Colour of Unadulterated Insanity is a story of an innocent woman who experienced betrayal. Through that catastrophic event, she learned about her own darkness and emotional turmoil, drowning in her jealousy and hatred. She then went through a transformation to reconcile where she finally reached a state of accepting herself as an imperfection, yet a beautiful mess. Fancì designers want to show that women have different [complex] psychology and portray the beauty of girls’ mental world. I would say that this is an introspective approach of the designers to acquire inspiration. Our designs often carry personal touch and emotions, and it goes the same with this collection.
One of Fancì Club’s aspirations since its founding is to be culturally reflective, to pay homage to Vietnamese femininity and particularly the city girl, nightlife style. Given the brand’s recent worldwide success, how do you plan on ensuring that Vietnamese women and their distinct styles continue to be the brand’s point of convergence?
A lot of Fancì’s designs are responsibly made by Vietnamese women, especially Southern Vietnamese girls. Thus, our styles will always convey the free spirit of Southern Vietnamese women, while our message will stay humble and true to who we are as it is the manner and quality of Southern women in our country. In fact, our philosophy is inspired by the Fancì women who live life to the fullest and inspired others to live confidently and kindly as well. Ultimately, our team aspires to bring the Vietnamese spirit to the world. We hold a responsibility to advocate our culture and represent the beauty that is unseen in the global fashion industry.
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