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FRIED RICE Designer Maya Wang on Community and Having Fun

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Campaign Imagery by FRIED RICE / Portrait by ONE37pm

The concept of having fun is often lost in the increasingly gatekept world of fashion. That's why speaking to Maya Wang, founder of FRIED RICE, was such an absolute delight. In every utterance, Maya’s commitment to play and truly enjoying the process of both designing and wearing garments is paramount. And her vibrant, eclectic clothing certainly mirrors her ethos: wearing clothes should be fun. 

We had the opportunity to catch up with Maya in the FRIED RICE Soho store to hear about the genesis of the brand and how she thinks about design—and to play a little bit of dress up.

The Genesis of FRIED RICE

“I wanted to start a brand that’s about a celebration of the creative community,” Maya grins to me in our first zoom call together. This is one of the main driving factors of Fried Rice. It’s a brand by a creative, intended to give back to the creative community. 

Fried Rice was birthed out of Maya’s “obsession with fabric and textiles.” Her fascination with textiles is a lifelong one: “I have a true respect for the textile itself. I want to respect the life of the original form of the fabric.” You can still see this fascination in all of her work, as so much of it is based on letting the interesting fabrics shine.

The NYC-based designer first began making dresses with an at-home sewing machine, and her creations immediately caught the eye of stylists and others whenever she left the house. Based on the response she got from creatives who would see her in her self-made creations, she decided it was time to start a business.

My heart is telling me, this is it. FRIED RICE is this city.

- Maya Wang

She launched the brand early on in her time in NYC, feeling that the city was exactly the right fit for the ethos she was trying to create. “We want to give people a sense of belonging,” she tells me. 

FRIED RICE and Fun

When Maya and I first speak about her design process, one word comes up repeatedly: fun. “I don’t think about colors, I think about: how do we make our life fun? How do we make our life more positive?” she tells me when I ask about how she first ideates around a garment. “When I say have fun—I want to play with colors, I want to play with fabric, textiles,” she elaborates. 

Male Yellow Stripe Strap Pants Apple
FRIED RICE

Male Grey Plaid Disoriented Dance
FRIED RICE

As we continue our conversation, the avenues through which people can have fun with the clothing multiply. A lot of FRIED RICE’s clothing incorporates straps, numerous pockets and other embellishments that allow the wearer to truly customize their experience. “There are 30 ways to wear the same piece, it’s all up to you,” Maya grins to me when we catch up again at the Soho store.

As depicted in the video above, Maya and I spent a lot of our recent meet up exploring the myriad of ways in which one can don FRIED RICE clothing. Since our meeting, I’ve been wearing a pair of their pants nearly every day, sometimes snapping the bottom of the pants to give a parachute pant effect; other times, I leave them loose and flowy. Maya views all of these potential customizations as opportunities for her customers to

This is who I am. I’m wearing this to show who I am.

- Maya Wang

Maya is one of my favorite designers I've had the opportunity to speak with. She radiates excitement and passion for her work in every conversation we've had. And the through-line of "fun," which is so paramount to her design process, is also clearly integral to the way she moves through the world and communicates. "Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it doesn’t matter. It’s a process of creating. It’s about the experience," Maya smiles to me as she recounts the process of creation. Whether you're speaking to Maya or trying on FRIED RICE clothing, it's certainly about the experience.

To read up on another designer to watch, check out our recent profile on Sebastien Ami.

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