Andrew Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan. He has lived and studied in major international cities bewteen Paris, London and New York. He has a proven career track at renowned luxury retailers and fashion houses including Bergdorf Goodman, Gilt Groupe, Louis Vuitton, Issey Miyake and the exclusive Italian luxury brand VBH for more than 10 years. Andrew is known as a Trendsetter, Tastemaker and an Experience Curator.
With his passion for creativity, culture and business, he founded My Inspire Project since 2017. He and MIP team have a passion for story-telling and have been invited and worked with various tourism boards, travel & hospitality groups, LGBT communities, art organizations and fashion houses across the world.
My Inspire Project shares the discovery about positive living, creativity, and inspiration with a unique point of view. The platform was nominated as one of top 20 finalists for the 1st International Influencer Award in Monaco in 2018. His works have been featured in various publications such as Vogue Taiwan, Elle Taiwan, Yahoo Finance, Afar, Town & Country & more. Andrew currently resides between New York, Los Angeles, Europe and Taiwan.
Tell us about your upbringing:
My core value is alway my family and coming from a humble academic family in a small beach town in Taiwan, they taught me something really important which is the “respect.” Growing up, my androgynous look and non-binary identity has always been a topic and spotlight in the school and my social circles. But I was lucky enough to have the strong support from my family and my friends who allow me to be who I am.
Growing up, I didn’t have many incidents of bullying but people stood up and spoke up for me. I was a very shy person to begin but all the love and openness has shaped me into a strong and confident person today. And this is also how I see the world, other people and cultures, just being open, inclusive and not judgemental.
How did you find your passion for travel, design and style?
My hometown Taiwan is a beautiful island that has a lot to offer, but it is still quite small. I have been dreaming of living in a metropolitan city since I was a kid and after traveling to Paris, London and New York when I was in college, I decided to relocate to New York to pursue further degree and career path. I spent 10 years in fashion and luxury industry in New York that allows me to travel to other fashion caputals like Paris, Milan and London.
I spent a lot of time in my previous roles working with designers, distribution and journalists and I was constantly on the road to scout new locations, venues and partners for brand collaborations, trunk shows and VIP events around the world. Therefore, I started building a strong list of the best places in each city that ended up becoming the foundation of my social media platform today. I am also very involved with architecture and art world which allows me to have more dimensions wheh it comes to design and creativity.
To me, I do not travel to become a travel Influencer, I do not dress up because I want to be a fashion blogger. Everyday there is always a reason for me to dress up and hop on the plane to explore. It is an expression of my individuality and lifestyle.
Where are some of your favorite places to visit?
I love St Barth, Formentera, Puglia, Iceland for vacations.
And I would choose London, Madrid, Paris and Malibu as my favorite cities to base and live.
Out of everywhere you’ve been, what are some of the most fantastic places or things you have ever seen?
From all the places I have been so far, there were two places/experiences that still get me goosebumps when I think about them:
1. Soaking in the outdoor hotspring in the wild in the snow and watching aurora painting the entire sky with different colors and movements in Iceland was something truly unique and unforgettable.
2. Entering the ancient city of Petra in Jordan with a horse carriage and the explore the ruins while riding the camels was simply remarkable. The scale and the story behind those incredible structures is definitely sometimes everyone should see in a lifetime. My favorite was the exclusive “Petra by Night” experience where you enter the ancient city at night with thousands of candlelight along the path and listen to the poets and singers in front of the Treasury. The scenery and the echoes that go around the valley was something you would not forget. Everyone was just mesmerized by the place, the energy and experience there.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
My all-time favorite designers:
Alexander Lee McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Haider Ackerman, Azzedine Alaïa & Dries Van Noten.
Now I am wearing:
Casablanca, Y-Project, YSL, Loewe, Dries Van Noten, Litkovskaya
How has the social media landscape changed over the years?
Social media has been a great tool for everyone to have his/her own voice. The effect sometimes could be amazing and hard to measure. I position myself and my platform as a story telling vehicle for great things that I discover along my journey. I believe in Experience Commerce & Marketing as the future. However, the algorithm has been changed a lot and does not work in our favors anymore, a lot of time it dictates the reach or visibility based on the budget and it is not as organic as before. I spend minimum 2-3 hours each day for one post and it could be very challenging and frustrating when the post got completely lost due to the algorithm.
Also, more and more people just create content that would go viral, but not for better reasons. I have very limited amount of time each day and I prefer to learn something from the things I see instead of just spending hours scrolling for nothing. Therefore, it is important for me to stay focused on the right social media platforms and be aware of anything new and sustainable. I know too many people got burnt out from social media and they live a fake life just for it.
How do you collaborate with brands?
Believe or not, I turn down more than 80% of the projects or inquiries cause I want to make sure everything I share and promote is something I could stand behind and believe in it. It is not easy sometimes when you have to meet the financial goals and support the team and people working for you. I usually start with the brands I love and share values with, and work with reputable agencies and people to facilitate the collaboration and projects together. It could be from fashion, art, charity to lifestyle products. And I always make sure both the brand and audience could win and gain something from my story or content.
Who inspires you and why?
I have many role models in life, my parents are among them. I am a great listener and I cherish every bit of story when I meet new or old people around the world. I see everyone as a source of inspiration in life, from a fisherman I met in Puglia to leading business dealmaker, Christopher Varelas. I love seeing different perspectives of life, from different positions and stage in life. That feels like I am facing numerous mirrors and makes me understand who I am and where I would like to reach down the road. I do not wanna be the 2nd of someone, I would like to stay authentic and original. It would be great to just be proud of everything I have achieved, created and done.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Androgynous, Gender-Fluid, Allure, Sleek, More is More, Eclectic, Elegant with a Twist.
What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?
Being the best version of yourself is the best way to be extraordinary. Everyday I make sure I maximize my time and efforts to complete as much as I can and live to the fullest. I do it for myself and people I truly care about. It is very important to keep the clarity of yourself and sometimes it takes time for other people to fully understand you.
What are some of your favorite restaurants around the world?
I just visited Mirasur in Menton, France, now ranked No. 1 restaurant in the world, last weekend. The best restaurant is actually a lot simpler and easier than you would imagine. Chef Mauro Colagreco transforms his kitchen by drawing inspiration from nature and his gardens in the area. We started the experience with a guided tour of the gardens closest to the restaurant to explore the cultivation techniques, the characteristics of the land, micro climate and plantations.
The menu is totally rooted in the link between heaven and earth and the influence of the Moon and the planets on plants. We were offered the “Flower” menu that highlights the expansion of beauty with the range of flowers available in their gardens. Paired with rare seafood and meat with the million-dollar view of the sea, the haute cuisine combines the simplest elements and turns them into an expression that touched all of our senses.
I was especially impressed by the rose done by hibiscus beet root & beef, the langoustine & osmanthus, local fish with saffron sauce and the elderflower & cherries combinations. The flowers played an important role and were the bridge between different ingredients. Nine courses down, we were completely blown away and satisfied, but feeling refreshed by all these fresh and original dishes.
Another unforgettable dinning experience that worth mentioning is the Disfrutar in Barcelona, Spain, the experimental menu was truly unique and it is hard to judge and know what you are actually eating, the shape, taste and colors could all be surprises.
I also have my favorites like the original Din Tai Fung in Taipei, LuBar in Milano, Restaurant ERH, Septime in Paris, A Wong in London, Via Carota in NYC and Magari in LA.
For more information, visit Andrew on Instagram.