Ross Pollard, Fashion & Grooming Editor at BLOW!, sits down with 1×1 Studio ahead of London Fashion Week.
It’s time for London Fashion Week, the twice-a-year event that brings the couture crowd into the city ready to look and see what designers have been working on for the last six months. In amongst the shows is Fashion Scout, the premier location for launching new talent, and their Ones To Watch show. Each season a panel of industry experts select four designers to win the award and present their collections in a combined show at Freemasons’ Hall.
This season sees Taiwanese designer Yi-Ling Kuo join the walk with 1×1 Studio, recognising not the growing influence of menswear, but your dear editor’s fave nation of Taiwan. I took some time out from eating hotpot and celebrating Chinese New Year to catch up with the label and of course ask some questions.
Happy New Year, have you been able to take time to celebrate while working on the last tasks for the new collection?
Happy New Year to you as well! Yes, we still squeeze a bit of time for a night out. Time management is important; we always try our best to balance in between life and work.
Being selected from so many labels to be in the Fashion Scout Ones To Watch show is a huge achievement; what do you think it will add to the label going forward?
It’s definitely a huge honour and such an encouragement for us – a small brand, going forward. We believe the publicity and exposure brought by Fashion Scout will push us toward a bigger market and attract a bigger audience who like the textured knit of our label.
The collection has 80s notes which for me is nostalgic; what made you pick a decade many associate with bad hair and massive shoulders (trademark Joan Collins)?
We think growing up in the 80s and 90s ourselves, this collection is as much an indulgence for us in terms of nostalgia, as much as it is for us in recognising the current menswear trend in the market. The memories of watching these classic retro-futuristic films, especially the costumes and architecture really inform our design ideas in this collection.
Menswear is the biggest growing area in fashion currently; what attracted you to it?
Menswear is always exciting because, in essence, we do have a certain boundary to work within, but we’re always supposed to push that fine line between innovation and functionality. The development of menswear in recent years is just incredible and we really look forward in exploring that in our future collections.
Given that menswear is changing rapidly, do you think it gives more scope for new labels to emerge, more so than womenswear labels?
We think in the fashion climate of London it is a little bit more encouraging towards innovation in menswear. The young, vibrant energy of London, including streetwear and workwear, really lends itself to a stronger push in the local market for menswear compared to women’s.
The collection is beautiful and made with sustainable materials. Were they difficult to source or has the market matured enough to have wide availability?
[Sustainable materials are] definitely much more available than in past years, but it is still a conscious design decision to insist upon using these, thus the cost and effort to source these materials reflect that.
I love Taiwan; there is such an energy about its burgeoning industry and how many talented designers its created. What do you think is behind the explosion?
Taiwanese youths are full of energy and passion. For our generation specifically, due to our geography and sensitive political climate, we have learnt to adapt and be brave in innovating. Everything is possible as long as you’re not afraid of failing.
You studied and founded the label in London; what made you choose the city?
We find such inspiration in a multicultural and artistically vibrant city like London. London is also such an encouraging and supporting presence for small design labels like ours. London offers us a solid foundation for which to build our label upon, so the question really is, why not?
If we gave you twenty-four hours off and unlimited cash after the show, what would you do in the city?
I think first of all, we would definitely take all of our staff out for a relaxing day out with amazing food to thank all of them for doing their utmost for the label.
After that, we would probably go to Berwick Street and buy all the fabrics, yarns and trimmings that are amazing there and stockpile it all in our studio and get a big studio with best equipment.
Best of luck with the show, we can’t wait to see it.
Find the label on their website and find out all about Fashion Scout here.