Get to know the unassuming, whip-smart designer at the helm of her own label. Here is Anna Hoang in her own words.
“Years ago, before I did fashion, I did a combined degree in journalism and law at UTS [University of Technology Sydney]. I had finished high school, and I kind of wanted to do fashion—like I really wanted to, deep down, but I just didn’t see how that was going to be possible. I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t sew… but I just had this wanting, this yearning for it. But there was no plan. I wasn’t particularly art inclined, but I’ve always gravitated towards clothes and stores and magazines. But that doesn’t mean you can be a fashion designer… For me it was very out of reach.
“I did some book research for a law professor at his law firm, and after that I realised I really couldn’t sit at a desk and look at a computer all day. I mean everyone was nice enough but I just realised, this is not really for me.
“I kind of felt almost like I was playing at something, like I was pretending… It sounds really bizarre, but I just felt really out of place and one of my journalism lecturers actually came up to me my final semester, he used to be the executive producer of Four Corners across the road at the ABC, he was this hard-hitting journalist, and he came up to me and said, ‘Anna, now, I don’t know what you’re doing but you just seem to be cruising through class…’ I think everyone else there was much more serious than me… I was doing what I was meant to do but wasn’t doing much more, and I think he could see that.
“I just felt really out of place, and it was just becoming more apparent as the years went by, because everyone was getting jobs at law firms, or working across the street at the ABC, and I wasn’t doing any of that. They were all really serious about becoming partners at law firms or getting that cadetship at Sydney Morning Herald.
“So I thought, ‘Okay maybe I should look into design and how I could get a job in fashion. I wrote all these letters to all these designers—some of the brands are gone now, like Collette Dinnigan—and I said, ‘I’m a Uni student and I would really like to get into fashion.’ Something really stupid. They probably laughed at me. Then I made a concerted effort. I wrote 20 or 30 emails and got all these rejections, but I filed them away in my rejections box. I kept them so I could remember what the feedback was, and the feedback was: If you really wanted to do this, you would go to design school. You should go to design school.
“I’m not a sales person. I’ll do it if I have to—obviously I know my product best because I developed it, and we do the pattern-making in the studio, and we do everything here—but at the same time I think I should just focus on being able to do even stronger collections the next season and having more time to think. I think it’s just having more time to think, not about selling stuff, but having more time to think creatively…
“I feel like things move so fast. I can see why Raf Simons left Dior, in the sense that he was saying he didn’t have time to think… I read about Karl Lagerfeld saying, ‘Oh don’t complain about it, you’re supposed to make it look effortless.’ But with me, I have to produce my own collections, and produce them so quickly… If I had a huge team, a whole atelier of like ten seamstresses, that would be great. But even then you need to provide the creative direction. You can’t just make whatever.”
Above: Models backstage at Anna Quan’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Resort 2019 presentation at Carriageworks in Sydney, May 2018.