The billowy, sculptured streetwear of Chinese label A. A. Spectrum 光谱 is naturally non-gendered, able to cocoon anyone into a distinct utility-wear look. Even the name combines another binary of English and Chinese, encouraging their global consumers to live life on a moving “spectrum.”
After gaining a combined 40-year-experience in the industry, best friends Amber and Ying Zeng launched the functional fashion brand in 2015. Since then, they have hired design director Kevin Tallon, a Central Saint Martins alumnus with an impressive work history, ranging from Balmain to McQ and Maharishi. While Tallon’s design team is based in Switzerland, all of the clothes are made in China — a feature that holds strong contemporary appeal for the mainland’s Generation Z.
The marriage of Europe and China has carved a brand identity that could easily be seen on rails alongside today’s trending brands like Stone Island, A-COLD-WALL*, and Arc’teryx. In the same manner as these, A. A. Spectrum 光谱’s collaborations promote a lifestyle, with the latest — launched on January 18, 2022 — being a small capsule with China’s visual label MVM under Chinese music label Modern Sky.
Discussing the MVM drop, Chinese design, and the team’s approach to collaboration, Jing Collabs and Drops caught up with co-founder and brand director Ying Zeng.
How does China influence the designs of A. A. Spectrum 光谱?
“Our designs feature inspiration from Chinese culture, such as the tiles and bricks of the Great Wall, the elegant color of blue porcelain from the Song Dynasty, etc. Many of our collaborators are from other countries but are familiar with China and they have offered us their unique perceptions of China during her transformation in the past decades.
We cherish the opportunity to express ourselves through our fine products. Classic Chinese culture is less extroverted. We tend to express it in a more bold manner, which you may sense in our designs. Regardless of that contrast, the yearning for freely expressing oneself is shared by all of us.”
Are collaborations a vital part of A. A. Spectrum 光谱’s strategy?
“Cross-collaboration has become more and more important in the fashion world and we love it. Being unique and free is what we cherish, but we also embrace different ideas, incorporating and fusing them with new ideas. We hope to create interesting designs together with interesting people.”
What was the process of translating a music label into fashion through your latest collaboration with MVM?
“As a fashion clothing brand, A. A. Spectrum has always been exploring how to express our spirit using unique shapes and designs. MVM is a vastly influential organization of music in China and has been entertaining its audience with outstanding music works, which is also our goal in the world of fashion. We combined our expertise, went through ‘inspiration, concept establishment, matching elements, research and development,’ and out of this came the capsule collection.”
What are you trying to achieve through collaborations like your one with MVM?
“The decision behind our chosen partner is always determined by the needs of our customers. MVM became a good choice as lots of our customers love music, many of whom are either musicians or passionate about music. This collaboration shows how we unite our arts and our goal is to touch your heart, just like a beautiful song does.”
What has been the most pivotal collaboration for A. A. Spectrum thus far?
“Every season we try very hard to look for partners who can resonate with us and bring us inspiration. Luckily, we have had a string of successful collaborations. For instance, for 2020 Autumn/Winter with Melting Wang we incorporated the interesting changes of Chinese cities in our designs. 2022 Autumn/Fall with Vincent Schambacher shows the beauty and power of an artwork that was made with amazing discipline by our Swiss designer.”
What projects have you been working on? Are there any collaborations coming up that we can discuss?
“We are currently working with a company from the NFT field. This year we plan to make a few more short videos, similar to A Perfect Citizen and United Estates which we made in 2021 and 2020. We hope more people will be interested in our brand identity, which is what we may call ‘calmly passionate and calmly suspicious,’ extending from our brand DNA of Intelligent Rebellion. We want to express our love for freedom and independence, tempered by wisdom and reason.”
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