SHOW 2022. Where Masters present their talent in Antwerp

After two years of Covid-19, this year’s SHOW of the Masters, graduating from the Fashion Department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, will go live again next June 3rd and 4th. Tickets are now available.

Yanze JIN graduated as a Master last year and recently launched his own label YENTSÉ. Together with Shuting Qiu, Sensen Lii and Di Du, he is one of the four Chinese designers who studied at the Academy. They are the first generation of Chinese Masters, beyond doubt artistic and with a firm vision, who will pave the way for the next generation. Although they are Chinese, they are different. As such, these four of China are compared with the six of Antwerp.

After his graduation, JIN decided to stay and launch his own label through his atelier located in the city center of Antwerp. In the past, it was not easy for foreign students to stay after graduating and start up a label. Since last year, however, foreign students graduated can apply for an ‘orientation year’ permit. This is also what JIN did.

SHOW 2021 - Yanze JIN

How important is the SHOW for a master’s student?

JIN : “The presentation of my graduation project last year wasn’t live due to Covid-19; instead the show was filmed. The shooting of the film took place in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, where renovation works had just been finalized. Therefore, the building was completely empty and my master’s collection was presented in an entirely white environment.

Even though it wasn’t live, it still was a very important moment for me. It was challenging to dress and prepare the models for the show. Like every master’s student, I created my own choreography, chose the music and worked out other details of the presentation. It really was my own show.

While studying at the Fashion Department, I was always backstage helping the models to get dressed. But this year, I am planning to watch the show live, with a front-row seat.”

The Master is the final step in our education. The show is set up for the students; it celebrates the hard work from the past years and shows the world our talent in design.

Why did you came to study at the Academy in Antwerp?

JIN: “After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in fashion in China, I started to search abroad for more training. The main reason was my interest in European fashion, that is totally different from Fashion in China. Both London and Antwerp carried my interest since they are very well known as fashion capitals. Information on studies in London were easy to find, but not about studying in Antwerp. I did my research online and applied at the Academy. And when I came to Antwerp to do my entrance exams, I felt the vibes of the city. That’s when I decided to stay and study here.

I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design at the Wuhan Textile University, famous for its textile and design. I learned to create women’s and men’s wear, learned about marketing, manufacturing pieces and how to build a brand. I learned the techniques to build a collection and avoid mistakes. This bachelor prepared me for the fashion business.

In Antwerp, the education is all about your personality and your creativity. We were taught that our work should instantly show who we are and were pushed towards the uniqueness of our design. I learned to stay close to myself and make my work strong.

At the end of my education, all this felt perfectly balanced.”

I get inspired by what’s happening in society, by reading books as well as through artists’ works. My concepts are inspired by life and my own experiences. For the garment and style, I go outside and walk the streets to see how people walk and how they move.

Why starting a business in Antwerp?

JIN: “I like the city of Antwerp. To me, its size is more attractive than a big metropole; it is a pocket-sized metropolis. If there is too much distraction, I don’t find peace to be creative. If I were to work in London, Paris or big cities in China, I would have to spend a lot of time on transportation. Here, I can focus on my work.

After living six years in Antwerp, I know a lot of people in the fashion domain. During my education at the Academy, I travelled to European cities such as Milan, Paris and London to look-through the fabric and different resources. I have a network here, so I already built up a basis for a business. In China, I have these contacts as well. However, going back means giving up my network here. That feels bad. I gathered all this experience, why should I not stay here and continue?”

You applied for an ‘orientation year’ permit.

JIN: “Since last year, foreign students who graduated can apply for an ‘orientation year’ permit. During one year, you have time to start a business or find a job. It is a year where you question yourself to find your way and where you want to go to. That’s a good thing. Hereafter, I can apply for an entrepreneur visa."

What do you want to achieve?

JIN: “The main goal is to see my brand grow. That is what I am slowly building up this year. I know shop owners located in Paris, China, London and Antwerp. I contacted them and they selected pieces from my collection. Due to Covid-19, we mostly had to visit online showrooms where you can’t try or feel the product. Up till now, it was not easy to enter the market as a new brand. It is really hard to make a connection if you can’t shake hands.

My main goal is to see my brand grow. In addition, I want to build a bridge between China and Antwerp.

In addition, I would like to start a fashion agency, to build a bridge between China and Antwerp. I have connections with designers moving back to China to start a brand. If they are looking for creative projects in Europe, I can help them to find a location, talent, to work as a creative director or to organize a photoshoot. Or, I can help a start-up label here in Belgium, even in Europe, that wants to do business in China or manufacture pieces over there; I can help because of my network over there. Both ways, it will offer me fresh ideas from all around the world.”

In short:

SHOW 2022
3 & 4 June
Waagnatie, Antwerp

Tickets for sale via this link

Are you a foreign student, graduating in Antwerp and do you want to stay and work here? Apply for an ‘orientation year’ permit.