The luxury Chinese label gets a chic, sustainable update with surplus fabric, bold shades and geometric cuts
We don’t know about you mama, but sustainable fashion is always in style here at Sassy Mama. We’ve talked about how you can put a stop to modern day slavery and reduce waste by cutting down your clothing count with a capsule wardrobe, and now there’s just one more reason to go green with your closet – Shanghai Tang has just launched its first up-cycled collection with EcoChic Design Award 2015 winner, Kévin Germanier.
In collaboration with Hong Kong-based environmental NGO Redress, the Swiss designer worked closely on behalf of Shanghai Tang to create a modern collection using surplus textile stock and it’s just hit our shores! Read on below for his insights on sustainable fashion, the inspiration behind the line and how mamas can style each piece for a completely chic look.
How did you start your fashion design journey?
I got into fashion through the endless hours I spent playing with my sister and her dolls. I come from a tiny, conservative village in Switzerland where boys and girls stick to their gender-role expectations. But as a creative child I spent most of my time around girls who I used as my real-life dolls. Fashion is how I’ve chosen to express myself since childhood.
How important is sustainable fashion to you?
It feels amazing to be able to create clothes and at the same time protect the planet. As a young and passionate designer, it is important for me to feel useful. Working in a sustainable way gives me limitations that keep me on my toes. The message I am trying to communicate through my work is that you can find beauty anywhere. I would like to open people’s eyes.
How different was it designing your own eco-friendly collection for the EcoChic competition compared to now with Shanghai Tang?
Working in a professional environment really taught me how to pull a real collection together for retail, and not just the one-off pieces I’ve previously made as a student. My experience changed the way I look at design. I have learned that it’s not just about designing beautiful clothes, it’s so important to understand the market and your customers; know what they want rather than designing what you want to! I have really enjoyed adapting to these ‘real life’ restrictions, a great challenge!
Working as part of a team, and across the business rather than individually has also been really satisfying. There are so many strong voices in a business like Shanghai Tang, from marketing, sourcing, senior team, all with different objectives and all have been great to learn from.
What was the inspiration behind this collection?
I took inspiration from the history of Shanghai Tang, and the mood boards of the A/W collections that were being designed at the same time. As this up-cycled line is a capsule collection, and Shanghai Tang has a strong brand story, we wanted to make sure that it complemented the other collections on sale, but with a bit of my design style in there too! Its sleek, neat, clean and sharp – very Swiss influences! I started by looking at key items that were popular with customers and designed new versions with twist. I hope and think that it is a clever collection too, appealing to the Shanghai Tang audience with the ability to be styled in many ways – adding to its sustainability!
We noticed there’s a lot of black and red going on in the collection. Why did you choose those colours?
The collection was made completely from up-cycled surplus luxury materials left over from previous Shanghai Tang collections. The only ‘new’ parts are the labels and trimmings. I also designed the collection with simplicity at its core, which has reduced the amount of extra parts needed such as pockets. I was inspired by the past, present and future of Chinese culture, so I combined up-cycling and reconstruction design techniques to create garments using surplus army textiles and industrial textile waste. The collection mixes traditional hand techniques [such as weaving, knitting, dying and embroidery] with a modern twist.
How can mamas style these pieces for hot and humid Singapore?
I would suggest the Silk Sleeveless Top, Mohair-Silk Jacket and Shanghai Suit Pants for warmer temperatures. The collection is also highly versatile and can be matched with other items. Also, customers can mix pieces from this capsule collection with Shanghai Tang’s main AW2016 line.
Thank you for your style tips, Kévin! Kévin Germanier’s capsule collection with Shanghai Tang is now available in limited edition quantities online and in Shanghai Tang Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road, #03-06/07 Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238873.