MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear alumni Liushu Lei and Yutong Jiang are behind emerging Chinese brand SHUSHU/TONG, who have seen their recent collections stocked in Opening Ceremony and Dover Street Market. LCF News speaks to the pair about making the leap into some of the world’s most recognised high-fashion stores.
The independent brand was born in Shanghai after Liushu and Yutong both worked with each other during a SEED Fund project. The designers said SHUSHU/TONG combines grunge street style with exclusive tailoring finishes, while referencing Japanese animation as an inspiration.
The pair wanted to collaborated because they shared the same design aesthetics, and had the same vision of building a modern feminine brand for sophisticated women with a girly twist. Inspired by different female stereotypes, two designers keep pushing the boundaries between a girl and a woman. Since forming just over a year ago, the brand has been picked up by many of China’s top retailers, and later Opening Ceremony, Dover Street Market and H-Lorenzo in Los Angeles.
When did you realise you wanted to be a fashion designer?
At first I was really interested in becoming a Japanese animation artist. As I started to draw pictures I soon realised I was more interested in the cloth which the character was wearing, and knew I wanted to design garments from there.
You came to study in the UK, what made you want to apply at LCF?
I had many friends who previously studied at London College of Fashion, and heard great things. I also felt my design style was very similar to LCF compared to other fashion universities in London.
What’s the story behind SHUSHU/TONG, you’re based in Shanghai right?
We both knew each other from university, and were based in Shanghai after graduating. We started the brand together as we thought we could offer something unique. SHUSHU/TONG is a style that matches us, and was quite different to everything else in Shanghai. We make the garments and are always the first ones to try on all the clothes. If we like it, we make it, it all suits our styles.
How is the brand doing in China? You’ve really established the brand in several cities.
Watching the brand expand in China is very exciting. There are many designers in China like us, who have plenty of opportunities to really build and establish a brand. We feel like its a good time to be a designer in China.
Tell us how the brand got started, you both studied MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear together?
Yes, we both graduated last year from the same class. Initially we started the brand for the SEED Fund programme at our school. They asked us for a business plan and at the time we literally had no idea what to say or do. We decided to officially make the brand real so we could figure out what our business plan and model would be.
Where does the inspiration for each collection come from?
We get inspiration from small things we’ve seen or watched in the past. Animation is a big part of it, but we also get ideas from everywhere.
You both graduated in 2015, and have collections stocked at Dover Street Market and Opening. How does it feel having your brand in those stores…
We are very lucky to be stocked in such well-known stores. It really helps build the brand identity and has helped us financially too.
How did LCF help you get to where you are now?
Studying at London College of Fashion was a huge for us, it really progressed us as designers. We learnt how to make collections and the whole process of building a brand.
What would you like to be doing in five years’ time?
We don’t like to think that far ahead, but hopefully we’ll still be making new collections.
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