Phantaci cofounders Jay Chou and Ric Chiang talk streetwear

    In an exclusive quickfire interview, Phantaci founders Jay Chou and Ric Chiang discuss the brand’s reputation in Asia, and its latest Nike Grand Piano sneaker release.
    Phantaci's latest lookbook featuring the new Puma collaborative sneakers. Image: Phantaci
      Published   in Fashion

    Asian streetwear has evolved to be dominated today by celebrity-owned brands, a trend that was sparked by the “King of Mandopop,” Jay Chou.

    Cofounded by Chou and his friend Ric Chiang in 2006, Taipei-based streetwear label Phantaci has attained longevity in the Chinese-speaking world. The hashtag Phantaci is at 1.5 billion reads on Weibo.

    Jay Chou and Ric Chiang. Image: Phantaci
    Jay Chou and Ric Chiang. Image: Phantaci

    Sporting a name inspired by the concepts of phantoms and fantasy, Phantaci is fronted by one of East Asia’s biggest superstars, so it’s enjoyed stable growth thanks to China’s burgeoning fan culture over the past 18 years.

    It paved the way for Gen Z-favorites like Jackson Wang’s Team Wang and William Chan’s Canotwait.

    From Reebok, Puma and Cole Haan to Native Sons and Be@rbrick, the long line of collaborative collections reflects Phantaci’s positioning in the global streetwear space.

    Joining Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack and Tyler the Creator’s Golf Wang, Phantaci is most recognized for its cult collaborations with Nike. Their 2009 sneaker, dubbed Grand Piano, is listed on StockX at a resale price of over $1,000 (7,270 RMB) despite first retailing for $150 (1,090 RMB). The most recent Grand Piano iteration is on the site at a 150% price premium, too.

    It is also the brand’s innovative marketing that has assisted in achieving durability among younger demographics. For example, the Phanta Bear limited edition range of 10,000 collectibles was launched on the Ethereum blockchain in collaboration with EzekClub in 2022.

    Phanta Bears displayed inside a PHANTACi store inside the BFC Bund Financial Centre in Shanghai. Image: CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images
    Phanta Bears displayed inside a PHANTACi store inside the BFC Bund Financial Centre in Shanghai. Image: CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

    With cult sneakers under their belt and a global following, Chou and Chiang have consistently burnished their reputations among Gen Zers and millennials in China. Here, the cofounders break down the state of Asian streetwear and what Phantaci is serving consumers in 2024.

    Jing Daily: How would you describe Phantaci’s streetwear identity?

    Ric Chiang: Innovators. We continuously innovate, seeking new design inspirations and concepts, integrating creativity and innovation into our designs, and presenting them in an artistic style, imbued with unique meanings and expressions.

    JD: In what ways does your music career influence, or inspire your sense of fashion?

    Jay Chou: Expressing myself through creation, showcasing personality. This influence has transformed my sense of fashion into not just following trends, but also embodying a lifestyle attitude and self-identity.

    JD: Are your music fans also Phantaci’s biggest fans?

    JC: There’s some overlap, but there are also distinct differences between the two. Music and fashion, as distinct forms of cultural expression, attract different audience demographics. This overlap and divergence can help Phantaci expand its market while maintaining the uniqueness of the brand.

    JD: Your Christie’s auction made news worldwide. Where does your passion for art and collecting come from?

    JC: My passion for art and art collecting stems from a profound understanding of, and love for creation. Both art and music serve as avenues for me to express myself and explore the world. This resonance propels me forward on the path of art, enabling me to create profoundly touching and unique pieces.

    JD: You have many millennial fans. Are you inclined towards designing with nostalgia for them?

    JC and RC: Simultaneously possessing the ability to continuously innovate and recreate classics, I aspire to create more unique and distinctive works.

    JD: How would you describe Asia’s streetwear scene?

    JC and RC: Showcasing a characteristic of diverse development that blends various cultural elements and fashion trends.

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