Originally from Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China, Shimo moved to London to make her dream of becoming a fashion designer a reality. She first enrolled in BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology Womenswear and decided to continue her studies at LCF with MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear. After graduating in 2015, Shimo moved to Shanghai with her business partner Une Yea, where they launched the menswear brand STAFFONLY.
Did you always know you'd end up working in the fashion industry?
I've had the aim to become a fashion designer since I was 10 - I've directed all my steps towards achieving that goal.
Why did you decide to study at LCF?
"LCF is my dream school. The balance between creativity and the business side of fashion that is available at this university was exactly what I needed."
Why did you decide to continue studying right after finishing your BA?
I didn't feel prepared to start my own brand after my BA course, so I thought I would have a bigger chance after doing the MA. Thanks to the course leader, Darren Cabon, I got to develop a full system of design philosophy and a more developed design methodology during the MA.
What's the biggest lesson you learned in the MA?
To always learn from my other classmates. They are so talented and they always inspired me and supported me in unique ways. I still take inspiration from some of them, despite being my competitors.
Do you think that studying at LCF helped you to launch your career?
Of course! It was the way to know the real industry.
"The course backed me when I was looking for internships, and thanks to that I had bigger chances of achieving a placement and working as a freelance for brands like Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford."
It would've been really difficult without LCF's reputation for its education and industry links.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received from a lecturer/ tutor / colleague?
Someone once told me: "The reason why people feel panic is the lack of knowledge." That taught me how to keep calm and carry on, facing what I need to learn and fixing any problems straight away.
Let's talk about your career after uni. Which of the projects you've worked on have been the most challenging?
The last project we showed in London. Titled 'May the flowers I burned light up your way,' this collection absorbed lots emotion and energy from our team, mainly because we had to develop the whole collection in two months. it revealed our fragility upon emotion, which is a common issue between young generations in Chinese metropolis.
And which one are you most proud of?
Our SS18 collection 'Catch More Fish'. I could feel the joy and happiness from the audience during our presentation. The atmosphere we brought to the venue was really touching at that moment.
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
"Being selected as one of the six finalists of the BoF China Prize (a fashion award supporting emerging Chinese designers)."
Can you tell us a bit more about STAFFONLY and the philosophy behind it?
STAFFONLY illustrates unlimited imaginations which go beyond the world itself - it's a brand full of joy and curiosity at the same time. A STAFFONLY man always has an abundance of curiosity and sense of humour, and he is willing to break the boundaries to explore the unknown faces of the world.
What is it like to start your own label? Have you found it very challenging?
We didn't think about it too much in the beginning. Since Une and I have known each other for decades, we had the idea right after graduating from LCF. When we came back to Shanghai we started learning everything about fashion business in a fresh, new way, as every rule of the business side we learnt back in London didn't seem compatible in this new market. The most challenging part was starting from scratch, since neither of us had experience of living and working in Shanghai.
What are you currently working on?
A capsule collection is on the way to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Onitsuka Tiger. We are always willing to develop something fresh with other amazing brands.
According to your experiences in your career so far, what piece of advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
"Always stay humble, be hungry for more. Also, a healthy lifestyle is really important while working in the fashion industry."
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