Devon Yan Berrong is living the American dream—and doing it with style. This China-born young artist began his career in the traditional arts, drawing and painting watercolor, before moving on to wearable art. Born to an opera-singing father, beauty was part of Devon's life since the beginning; something that undoubtedly influenced his decision to put aside his training at Zhongshan University in City Planning, and instead moved to the USA. While living in Portland, Oregon Devon worked behind the scenes at Portland Fashion Week , a gig that inspired him to enter the world of fashion.
Devonation's bold statements have made him a force to be reckoned with, and his constantly evolving and unpredictable style breathe a breath of fresh air into the Portland scene. In 2010 Devon's black and white modern urban look won him the hearts of Portland fashion critics, then his early 1900s China-inspired classic glamour look in his 2011 show won their hearts again.
We recently got the chance to catch up with Devon, who offered our readers some great advice based on his experiences in the industry:
What inspired you to get into the industry?
I don't really remember, since I was little kid, I already wanted to become a fashion designer. My dad is a lead opera actor/singer from China, I saw him wearing many different costumes on stage, which was the most exciting thing I can remember. My Mama she used to be the manager for all the costumes for the team so I got the chance to get to know all the detail of clothing since I was a baby. So I guess that is how I was inspired to get into the fashion industry.
What type of education did it take to get you where you are today?
I graduated from University with a major in City management. Nothing related to fashion. I am a self-taught designer.
How has your career path progressed over the years and where do you hope it will go?
I started as a stylist and art director for a local fashion magazine about 11 years ago. Then after working for a fashion company as a designer for almost 5 years, I left for personal reasons. I changed my career into a full time artist/watercolorist, until I got a chance to volunteer for Portland fashion week in 2009, which reminded me a lot of wonderful memories from when I was the fashion designer. So, I was inspired again and started my very first line as the independent designer one year ago.
I never dream too big or think that I will achieve amazing things in the future. I already made my dream came true to become a fashion designer. Nobody knows where I will go, not even myself. I don't want to make a promise to myself or anyone else, I am just enjoying what I am doing in this moment.
What is your favorite part of working in the business?
When all models line up at the backstage with all the looks ready for the runway... I just can not explain how amazing that feeling is, that is my favorite moment.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashionistas?
I would say get to know who you really are, what you are really good at and what you really want/like. Base on that you can create some magic that you don't even expect for yourself or your work. Most people they find it very difficult to work in the industry because they don't know what/how to do it, or they get lost. So when you find out who you are and what style you like or good at, go from there.
What schools would your company be most likely recruit new hires from?
I have no limits for that, I think I care more about their own passion/heart and creativity/ideas. Just like me, I never went to any fashion or art school, all I have is just the passion and heart. So when I am hiring people I don't really look at where they come from, I just look at what they have and can do.
Do you think there is an overall increasing or decreasing need for people in the fashion and style industry?
No, I don't think so, there are a lot of people doing this industry, but not too many people can truly be in this industry. Even though there are a lot of people entering the industry, not as many people will be around long term.
What designer(s) or brand(s) influenced you the most?
Hmmm...honestly, I don't know if anyone influenced me the most, I remember in the very beginning I couldn't even name any designer from the industry, which sounds weird but I just do things from my head. However, I think who caught my eyes the most is Mr. Galliano and Mr. McQueen.
Which skills do you consider to be most critical for a career in fashion?
Earlier I said get to know yourself, and I think it is very important that somehow you need to get to know other people/markets. If you can balance that part really well, I think you can become succesful in your career.
What is the hardest part for you about working in the industry?
See the answer of the question 9 for this. Sometimes it is very hard to make a fine line between yourself and others. You don't want to confuse people if you do too much of my own version in others' designs, but you also don't want to lose your original ideas if you cater too much for the market. I think that is the hardest part.
What perks do you receive working in the fashion industry? Free clothes? Travel? Parties?
As a designer I don't think so, I can receive a lot. Name and after parties I guess.
What do you foresee for the future of fashion?
One word "Original"
Check out more interviews at The Fashion-Schools.org Interview Series.