Akufuncture’s Sam Wang on Persistence
Samuel Wang, founder/CEO of Akufuncture, is more than just a businessman that owns a clothing company. He is the King of Fashion. He is an only child… one that knows how to prepare his parents for a future profession that doesn’t entail medicine or law. He is a sucker for old people. Don’t get him wrong. He is a very well dressed, straight man.
Sam Wang’s Mini Bio
Astrological Signs: Rat & Libra
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Current City: Los Angeles
Languages: English, Mandarin, Shanghainese, & Taiwanese
College: University of California, San Diego 2007
High School: Webb Schools 2003
Favorite Quote: “Why would I want the last shot, when I already made it?”
Although food is my usual subject, the character Samuel Wang has become my subject of interest this evening. While Wang’s street wear brand Akufunkture can easily be the subject of the interview, Taiwan543 shines the spotlight on the creator of the brand himself.
He is the King of Fashion
543: So Samuel Wang, since Wang (王) means king in Chinese, what are you the king of?
Sam: I AM THE KING OF FASHION!
543: Touché. What did I expect him to say? How did you become the King of Fashion? Sam’s face changes from a look of hilarity to a look of humility in two seconds flat. He explains. As a child who recently emigrated from Taiwan, he frequently wore what he dubs, “fobby” attire. An image of my own past comes to mind. An outfit, a fuzzy outfit, with matching top and bottom highlighted by words that can be only described as Chinglish stitched onto the left shoulder or vertically along the right oblique. Sam and I have something in common. He ends with, “No, I’m not really the King of Fashion.”
543: So who is? Which celebrity do you consider the King of Fashion?
Sam: David Beckham. It helps that he’s good looking. Brad Pitt. Lupe Fiasco… he has good style too.
543: Gotcha. Now… do you think Asians should not wear yellow?
Sam: (Laughs more.) You just gave me an idea for a shirt.
Sam: A yellow shirt. And all it says is, ‘FEVER’ on it.
543: Next question. What clothing store in the mall do you spend the most money?
Sam: ZARA! (Laughs.) Hands. Down. ZARA.
543: Not H&M?
Sam: (Holds up a scarf.)
Look. (I look.) I got this at Zara just today.
543: Just for the interview?
Sam: I needed an accent piece.
543: Is that important?
Sam: (Eyes widen.) YES. Every outfit needs an accent piece.
The accent piece he speaks of is a garment, an accessory, something that highlights an outfit… a finishing touch. It’s like the cherry on top of the cupcake or like the slice of orange in a pint of Hef. Use a food analogy, and people will understand.
543: So I can imagine that as a child of immigrant parents, your parents probably weren’t thrilled that you wanted to pursue fashion after four years in college.
Sam: My parents don’t care about fashion.
(Pauses… then continues.)
The lesson of the day is to prepare your parents for your future career. Most kids fail to prepare their parents. My advice to kids of immigrant parents who don’t pursue becoming a doctor or lawyer is to manage up. You get what I’m saying?
543: Manage up?
Sam: Yeah, managing up is communicating… early on… to prepare them for something else so that you don’t just spring it up on one day and say, ‘I don’t want to do what you want me to do!’ And then have the parents say, ‘You never told me this!’
Ah, wise advice from the King of Parental Management. Why didn’t I think of this before? Hey Pops, I want to be a writer. And I want to write about food. Uhhh…
543: If you were to design a t-shirt representing yourself, what character in Chinese culture, history, or mythology would you use?
Sam: The imperial seal. It has always been a part of the Chinese culture, and it is even part of my name in Chinese.
543: Cool. Why don’t I have a name like that?
543: Now… tell me something no one knows about you.
Not exactly a question.
Sam: I’m a sucker for old people.
Sam: And kids.
Let’s take the time to note that Wang is not a pervert. Behind his keen eye for fashion, both tasteful and not, and behind his exuberant yet somewhat calm demeanor, is a heart for the elderly and the youth of Taiwan. Sam explains that a long term, personal goal of his is to help solve some of the social issues that are prevalent throughout Taiwan. One small part of the goal is to help better take care of the elderly who have been neglected by their families or who live in solitude. Whether it’s better care through community living or through financial support, Sam says that there are a number of methods to help improve the lives of the senior citizens.
Another part to the goal is to help the Taiwanese youth achieve more than merely their academic potential. As a society that puts heavy pressure on students to excel in academics, Sam explains that Taiwanese parents may lose sight of the ambitions, talents, and skills of their children, particularly in the realm of athletics, stage performance like dance and music, and other art forms such as writing and painting. Sam plans to find a way to grant scholarships for Taiwanese youth to study abroad because there may be more opportunities for a balance of academics and extra-curricular activities. It’s not that school and academics aren’t important, but there’s “more to life than academics.”
543: And… why do you want to do that?
Sam: It’s because I care.
He is a just a well-dressed, straight man
543: In almost every interview, the interviewer gets something wrong that may cause the interviewee to sue for libel. What do you want to make sure I absolutely do not get wrong about you?
Sam: (Thinks.) My sexuality.
(He sees my confused look.)
Fashion doesn’t equal gay. People think I’m gay because I dress too well. Someone once asked my girlfriend if I was gay… they asked my GIRLFRIEND.
I think he is still in shock. But he might just have taken it as a compliment.
By the end of the interview, I had realized that the interview was not really an interview at all and that we had barely touched upon the topic of Akufuncture. Mission accomplished? Did Samuel Wang face hard hitting, life changing, tough as nails questions? Not quite. But did I get a sense of his personality? Definitely. Did his personality come across on paper? It’s tough to say. Describing Samuel Wang is like defining an accent piece. It’s unique. It’s complementary. It’s hard to describe. But when you see it, you know exactly what it is…
Interviewer: Michael Lin