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One glance at Petshop Girl Joe’s formidable custom platform All Stars tells you a lot about their designer and owner – progressive Taiwanese designer is far from stock-standard. Petshop Girl Joe, or Joe Chu to her friends, has been instrumental in adapting emergent street culture and future fashion aesthetics as filtered through her experiences in Taipei. Not content to limit herself to just one label, she also co-directs a separate line, ‘DAMAGE’, that draws on a myriad of dark web 2.0 references. Her distinct interpretations of branding and subculture icons have managed to catch the attention of international fashionistas, and she now faces the new challenge of balancing demand and popularity against her niche principles of design.

True style classics are hard to find. Of course, there are the exceptions that manage to transcend the fickleness of trends and emerge as wardrobe staples that traverse generations and subcultures without losing their allure. The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star is one such staple, a classic sneaker that’s inspired countless individualsfor almost a century. Capturing the imagination of creative’s from all walks of life, the humble All Staroffers a blank canvas for self-expression. With that in mind, we spoke with six individuals from a widerange of creative disciplines about their journeys, both physically and professionally. 

Who are you?

I’m Joe Chu, the designer of Pet Shops Girl and DAMAGE.
I love movies, party, hot spring, massage and rabbits.

When did you get into design?

I’m always very into drawing and designing stuff since I [was] a kid. My good friend Fran encouraged me to do funny DIY accessories with her, and that’s how we started this brand “Pet Shops Girl” together. We make jewellery such as phone cord necklace, toy earrings, or used clothes and garbage to make accessories.

Tell us a little about Pet Shop Girls.

After a trip to the West, I discovered I really love ‘80s fashion. I love the boldness and energy from that era. Me and [my partner] Andy party a lot, and this style is perfect for my outfits. I can’t find any cool clothes in Taipei so I decide to make them.

How long have you had this project? 

It’s been almost 10 years, but the clothing part is eight years.

What motivated you to start DAMAGE? 

I have my brand Pet Shops Girl; Andy has his street brand RTTC. One day, he said “Why don’t we create a brand together?” It’s a great idea ‘cos we have so many similar interests and tastes. He’s the brain of DAMAGE and I’m the eye and hands.

How long did it take you to repurpose your pair of All Stars? 

Luckily only half an hour for coming up with this design. Another 20 minutes to discuss with Andy, and maybe two or three hours to making the strap part and have a shoe maker to build the platform design for us.

Can you describe your creative journey?

It’s been pretty good! I’m so happy overseas people can see my designs through social media. Taiwan is small and isolated, most locals here are conservative and think my designs [are] too weird.

Made By You

For more in the series:

Made By You: Ron English

Made By You: Bryce Golder

Made By You: Miri Matsufuji

Made By You: Jimmy Hurlston of Jimmy’s Burgers

Made By You: Lee Spielman of Trashtalk