May 17, 2019 | By Anupreet Bhui
We’re living in a noise-filled world, a place where shameless attention seeking has become the modern status quo. At times it feels kind of like a dystopian social media driven (how many followers?) society that’s filled with never-ending noise. But can a brand that is quietly dedicated to doing what they love, be an alternative answer to the endless stream of loud peacockery that has lately come to dominate fashion?
Why not? There’s always been something deeply profound about the show-stopping simplicity of just the right cut and the sublime surprise of that just oh-so-right, perfect little design detail.
Launched by Yuzhe Sun from Qingdao and Alex Lee a Hong Kong native, who met while studying in London, Yuzhe Studios just might be what we’re looking for, a quieter alternative that fashion currently so desperately needs.
Founded in 2016 and recently discovered by our London-based womenswear editor Laura Yiannakou at the Paris trade shows, I ventured down a small alley in Shanghai’s FFC (former French Concession) to speak to Alex Lee about their S/S 17 collection, which unexpectedly is all about the power of a whisper. Hidden in the Rosso Art Center, the temporary showroom featured the brand’s next collection.
Over the course of an hour Alex graciously sat down to answer all my burning Qs. A few key topics emerged from how they want to run their business to where they are headed, refreshingly driven by their love for what they do and the desire to do what they love.
Here’s a few takeaways from our chat with this small business:
Having tested the collection via their own network for S/S 16, the brand has quickly moved on to a mixed sales model combining the traditional pre-season preview with a ‘see now, buy now’ capsule that provides an immediate gratification for buyers. No stock is held, once orders are placed, pieces are handmade in the brand’s studio in Shanghai. This helps the brand cut down waste and ensures they remain niche. Pieces ordered via stockists can have their inner labels embroidered with up to three letters offering a special customisation detail. Current talks are also underway to work with organic fabric mills. This slow process ensures pieces are unique and the brand can keep careful oversight on production. “We’re kind of control freaks.” Alex sheepishly explains.
When it comes to targeting the local market or going global, Yuzhe and Alex plan to go international. They realise the brand isn’t for everyone but as Alex put it “I would rather be 6,000 people’s favourite brand than a brand 60 million people know.” While production is based in Shanghai, London where the duo met will continue to be where they’ll go to stay inspired.
The brand has been picked up by small multi-brand buyers, stores that can really tell the company’s story. Current stockists include SSEER in Beijing, Art Design Living which will open late this year in Shanghai, Doze M in Qingdao, Dazzling in Guizhou, Hong Kong e-commerce website iStyleUp, Chad in Nagoya, Japan and Utter Couture in London. By focusing on stores that love their brand and customers who “get” their story the duo can focus on doing what they do best: designing clothing they believe in and love.
It’s simple, but kind of quietly profound and a much-needed relief to today’s increasingly generic design.
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