Located in Taipei’s East District (東區), Even Select Shop specializes in avant-garde designs, with a focus on Japanese labels. It is Taiwan’s exclusive retailer of Japanese brand Frapbois; other offerings include T-shirts by Play, Comme Des Garcons’ sportswear label, platform shoes by Unbilical & Belly Button and a roster of emerging designers from Europe.
Owner Even Chen (陳儀文) began importing clothing from Japan in 1994, when she was a fashion-conscious 20-year-old, and sold her finds in Ximending, where Even Select Shop still has a store in Shinjuku Plaza (西門新宿) mall. The store opened its East District flagship boutique in July last year.
Chen says she has had a passion for wearing offbeat clothing since she was a little girl.
“I just liked dressing up. I was always very vain,” says Chen. She is fluent in Japanese and visits the country once a month to keep abreast of trends. One of her favorite Tokyo neighborhoods is Shinjuku, where Chen takes note of what young hipsters are wearing. She also reads Japanese magazines like So-en, Nylon and Fruits, which is devoted to street style. Current trends Chen likes include duffle coats, harem pants and oversized cardigans with dolman sleeves.
All of those styles are represented in Frapbois’ current line. The Japanese label is known for its fanciful shapes and unusual fabric combinations. Knitwear in Frapbois’ autumn-winter collection, called “Leprechaun Crossing,” include an oversized sweatshirt topped with a yoke knit from three yarns in different gauges. Dresses and jackets have flourishes like petal-shaped collars or appliques cut from fake fur. Scarves, cardigans and vests are pieced together from a patchwork of cabled knits in neutral hues like heather gray and oatmeal. Cozy fabrics like plaid flannel contrast with trendy silhouettes like a pair of flouncy “skorts” (a cross between shorts and a skirt) that feature a balloon hem and fleece lining.
What: Even Select Shop
WHERE: East District store: 15, Ln 177, Dunhua S Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市敦化南路一段177巷15號). Ximending store: Room 35, 3F, 72-1, Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路72-1號3樓35室)
HOURS: Both stores are open daily from 1pm to 10pm
TELEPHONE: East District store: (02) 2711-7960, Ximending store: (02) 2375-7105
On the Net: www.wretch.cc/blog/mastuvu
Chen likes pairing her Frapbois dresses with platform shoes from Unbilical & Belly Button. The Japanese shoe brand’s current collection includes sleek ballet slippers with ladylike ankle straps perched on top of boat-like platforms that are 18cm to 23cm tall.
Another one of Chen’s favorite designers is German-born, Belgium-based Bernhard Willhelm, whose latest collection shows off influences from Chinese and Japanese art.
“I love his use of color. It’s very exuberant and his cuts are also unique,” says Chen of Willhelm’s exaggerated silhouettes.
Willhelm’s prints are inspired by ink paintings or calligraphy, with bold splashes of color set against a contrasting background, while dresses and tops are cut to resemble kimonos. A dusk blue wool A-line coat is given a dash of flair with the Chinese characters for “now” (現在) silk-screened across the front.
A tunic with an asymmetrical, gathered hem seems to float above the wearer’s knees like a cloud, while a kelly green cardigan is covered with a lace-like network of holes and rips that make it look like a swarm of artistically minded moths converged on it.
Even Select Shop also carries several lines by emerging designers and independent labels. Despite its name, Japanese brand Bikini doesn’t sell swimwear, but accessories and clothing that show off heavy woolen cloth recycled from American and German military uniforms, like a sweeping double-breasted cape. “Their lines are simple, but they use the very best fabric and materials,” says Chen.