Going Zen on Seventh Avenue

Designer Way Zen likes to infuse her study of Zen into her J. Song collection of suits and separates.

NEW YORK — Designer Way Zen — which phonetically, sounds like her Chinese name, but is an abbreviated version of her surname — likes to infuse her study of Zen into her J. Song collection of suits and separates.

This story first appeared in the March 26, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

By adding details like graphic pleats or ruffles onto the front of a jacket, it mimics the motion of waves in the ocean, said Zen, who moved here about six years ago and is originally from the village of Canton.

“My clothes are in natural colors and details and all these things have a Zen spirit. Ruffles are very much like the rhythm and movement of the ocean and I just get inspiration from there,” said Zen, whose specialty store-focused line, which does about $2 million wholesale, is currently in the window at 499 Seventh Avenue through the end of April. “The tides come and go, but even when it’s gone, we still have the memory of it and it doesn’t disappear.”

J. Song, which stands for “To Joy and Song,” ranges in wholesale price from $50 to $90 for jackets; $99 to $150 for two-piece suits, and $45 to $59 for pants. For fall, items include long, loose jackets, cropped, fitted blouses, cargo pants with a paisley motif and embellished white shirts. In addition to Zen, Edward Kwang works as company controller at the offices here.

Regarding Seventh Avenue, a place so far from her home country, Zen offered this bit of philosophy: “Seventh Avenue is like a garden of many different flowers and we are one kind of flower. We like to be the sunflower, which has strength and is beautiful and can stand really tough weather.”