By: Anya Patel
Visual: Mallika Tatavarti
Daniel Tan, like many people, grew up with the performing arts. When he was six, he started off by playing the piano and has held music close to his heart ever since. As he grew older, he began to gravitate more towards fashion. Tan admits that he fell into the “hypebeast trap” at first and bought into the cool and trendy brands. Though it’s not his proudest moment, he also concedes that he wouldn’t “be here without that.” Striving to set himself apart, Tan looked to more and more obscure clothing brands. He later decided that instead of buying rare shoes and clothing, he would make his own.
One of the main things that jump-started his process was COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, Tan’s summer internship was canceled, and need to fill his junior year summer for his college applications. To fill the gap, he started to design and assemble his own shoes. The process mainly consists of creating a design on cardstock, transferring it to leather, and putting together the pieces until you get your final product. Tan says that “the pandemic has really let me become hands-on and I appreciate that.”
Inspirations for Tan include people who have ideas and are hardworking. “For example, there are a ton of random Instagram accounts with like 500-2,000 followers that are just a single person creating one of one pieces and they look absolutely fantastic. [. . .] They just do it for their own pleasure. And that’s really important to me.” He also looks up to his hard-working mom who he credits with making him the person he is today. He describes her as, “[she is] the most patient, understanding person I have ever had the honor to meet, and I’m glad that I can trust her as one of my confidants.”
Some advice Tan has for newer artists is to just go for it. In his words, “suck it up and do it.” He also says that putting it on the same level of importance as things like extracurricular activities and volunteer work will help you as well. He encourages artists to block out the time, prepare for it, and just dive straight in.