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NATIVE SON: Jason Wu touched down in Taiwan last Thursday following a stop in Beijing for a Vogue China event. The 30-year-old designer received the kind of reception normally given to a pop star that’s been out on tour for two years. That’s how long it’s been since he was last in Taipei.
On Friday, he gave a speech at Taipei’s Shih Chien University, where he emphasized the importance of hard work and thanked his mother, who sat proudly in the audience. This was followed by a panel discussion with two other Taiwanese artists. Students without a seat lined the aisles and went out the door of the auditorium. Although he delivered his opening speech in English, Wu spoke Chinese during the rest of the event, charming guests will his humility and humor, even correcting his translator at one point.
“There’s been a lot of growth in fashion design in Taiwan in terms of education,” Wu said of his first visit to the campus. “Shih Chien University in particular has been credited for bringing a lot of knowledge to fashion for a lot of students who wish to pursue that.” This will be the third year that three students from the school’s fashion program will be selected for year-long internships with the designer in his New York studio.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have students look up to me and I try to fulfill my duty as a citizen of Taiwan by helping educate the kids and giving them opportunities because I was given so much not that long ago when I was a student,” Wu said. “[Fashion design] has become really prominent and popular in the last 10 years. That’s definitely a huge difference from when I grew up and the emphasis was more on academics.”