Style writers love the Uma Wangs and the Xander Zhous of China’s bubbling fashion industry, but then there are the designers that rarely make the international limelight, save for fashion weeks and the occasional collection launch that captures a magazine editor’s eye. Opening Ceremony’s latest yearlong campaign may change all of that.
The global luxury lifestyle and fashion brand is dedicating 2016 to Chinese designers and stocking collections—some of which haven’t gone much further than the concept stores in China’s urban sprawls—online and in its stores. Its list of featured designers include a few familiar and established names in the scene, like Xander Zhou, but making up the majority of its selection are up-and-coming brands whose production quality OC felt was mature enough to be stocked with them.
Of these designers in this campaign, called Year of China, is Shushu/Tong, a high-end brand based out of Shanghai that creates womenswear that blurs the boundaries between a mature woman and her younger self. The label is made up of two founders, Liushu Lei (Shushu) and Yutong Jiang (Tong), both of whom hail from Chengdu and graduated from studies in London last year before moving to Shanghai to kickstart the production of their Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Their clothes are styled with modern silhouettes and girly overtones—bubblegum-pink structured dresses are paired with tube socks, while coats are lined with a gingham print and decorated with cut-out bows that are a cheeky take on the typically frilly accent.
The bows and gingham are back in full force in their Spring/Summer 2016 collection, now available online at Opening Ceremony. These looks join a crop top and off-the-shoulder dress made with denim, meant to take the whole “sweet” aesthetic down a notch.
Jing Daily caught up with the pair as they were busy making arrangements to launch their Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, which features ruffled sleeves, schoolgirl uniforms with a twist (think black, strappy shift dresses over white ruffled turtlenecks), and pinstriped suits with ruffle details. They shared their secrets of success reaching the subcultures of Chinese luxury consumers, along with providing their own take on the Chinese fashion industry’s growth.
Tell us more about what inspired you for your SS16 collection.
Shushu: Our collection was inspired by the indie film Mi Vida Loca. We wanted to capture the aesthetic of a girl gang in East LA from the film. This collection is trying to describe the kind of girl who wears denim but still looks incredibly sweet and seeks happiness in spite of a chaotic lifestyle. She is fearless and tough, wears denim most of the time, and shows her feminine side through gingham dresses.
This is the first time your work has been a part of Opening Ceremony’s collection. What is it like being a part of their chosen emerging designers for Year of China?
Tong: It is super exciting to be part of it. I hope everybody likes our new collection.
Co-founder of Opening Ceremony Humberto Leon has said that he feels the Chinese design scene has evolved in the last five years to a point where production quality is in a good place. What is your personal take on the evolution of the Chinese fashion design scene?
Tong: I feel now is the right time for emerging Chinese designers to start their careers. In the last five years, a lot of talented Chinese designers have come onto the scene, and they have a clear brand image and their work is so exciting.
Who in China’s high-end fashion industry do you look up to?
Shushu: I really like the editor-in-chief of Modern Weekly, Shaway Yeh. Both of us used to intern at her magazine, which was an incredible experience.
What do you think is missing in the high-end Chinese fashion design scene?
Shushu: Chinese consumers are developing a brand new lifestyle and fashion sense stemming in part from a generation gap. In other words, we are building a history which is entirely new.
How has your education in London helped you in your career?
Tong: We graduated from the London College of Fashion. Our education there really helped a lot. We were always encouraged to show off our personality at school.
Shushu: London is a city full of energy and creativity. I love London a lot.
What made you make the decision to come back to China and live in Shanghai?
Tong: Shanghai is an attractive city. We completed our BA in this city, so we know it well. A lot of cool people live in Shanghai.
Who are your biggest influencers in the fashion industry right now?
Shushu: Subcultures are really affecting the fashion industry, and social media really makes these subcultures go mainstream.
Do you have advice for brands on how they can make the best use of social media in China?
Tong: Social media definitely helps out brands a lot, especially WeChat. Also, if celebrities are wearing your brand and post it on social media, this can also have a great influence in China.
How would you two describe your own style?
Shushu: Sweet with a twist.
Tong: Geeky quiet.
What are your future plans? Do you have another collection in the works?
Shushu: Yes, our Autumn/Winter 2016 collection is coming soon!