Ziwei Qu, the designer behind YYAtomic was born in Nanjing, China, an ancient city rich in culture and history. Ziwei moved with her mother to her hometown called Hefei at the age of four. Ziwei loved everything about Hefei, from the culture, the people, the nature and the food. Hui Style architecture, in particular, is a school of traditional Chinese Han architecture and one of the most important components of Huizhou culture, characterised by ‘white walls and black tiles’. Its design aesthetic has always influenced her till this day.
Here are some questions Ziwei answered in our ‘Meet The Designer’ Q&A.
1. What was your Inspiration / motivation behind your latest collection?
In this new project, I was inspired by people living in cities. Based on people living in a fixed pattern, the monotony or stress of everyday life can often feel very empty, especially for men, as it has been found that in general men tend to have coping mechanisms that rely less on interpersonal interaction than women, and therefore men are more likely to escape from reality. At the same time, in 1984, a space opera film called “The Last Star Fighter” appeared in the United States. In today’s society, people often see retro elements and high-tech futuristic style originated from this. There is a special form of wish fulfilment in the movie: a down-on-his-luck rural boy who plays a game to rise to the top and thereby save the galaxy. Therefore, I want to explore men’s inner desire for power and design a collection with male power by combining contemporary clothing elements.
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2. What is your earliest design memory?
When I was 10 years old, anime was everything to me, I was obsessed with the Japanese Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. I would re-sketch various characters, every movement as they morphed, and the expressions of the characters, they were just so cool. Tomino Yoshiyuki and Yoshikazu Yasuhiko were gods to me at the time, and they influenced my fashion sketching style and clothing design aesthetic later on. I am very grateful to my mother for not stopping me and encouraging me to enrol in art school in high school. During my time studying interior design in Beijing, I was thinking about my future career and these experiences inspired me to experiment and challenge myself. Eventually I found my true passion and what I wanted to fighting towards.
3. As a designer what has been your biggest challenge to date?
I tried to change the stereotype of streetwear, trying to get the two once very different worlds of streetwear and luxury fashion to start to collide. Among my friends, streetwear was kind of stigmatised as being unsophisticated. I was the only one in the group trying to work with and elevate it. My time at LCF really pushed me to my creative limits. It really forces you to think outside the box and find yourself without being influenced or copying what already exists, because the tutors will immediately be able to tell.
4. What is your typical creative process?
I have a visual diary that allows me to keep track of my inspirations. This is a habit I developed as a student, and when I come across interesting works in exhibitions, films, photography, artists’ performances and so on, I collect the stories behind them. Interesting characters and iconic social events are all sources of inspiration for my work. Once I have decided on a theme, I will find an entry point and spend a week researching it, and the library is where I spend most of my time. At the same time I will print out some research images and make collages of silhouettes, consciously or unconsciously, and after that I will have a basic style and feel for the collection. Afterwards, I will make hundreds of sketches, do fabric research, then make samples and finally decide on the final look of the collection.
5. What do you think consumers of fashion need to be made more aware of?
Clothing is classless. I want my designs to be for individuals with distinctive personalities and not be too focused on class divisions.
6. Name 3 creative people you admire and why.
Pierre Cardin, Thierry Mugler, David Bowie. Pierre Cardin is known for having an avant-garde style and pioneering Space Age designs. Thierry Mugler blurred the line between vulgarity, beauty and weirdness with an incredibly over-the-top artistic device. David Bowie, marked by reinvention and visual presentation, whose music and stagecraft had a major impact on popular music, ushering in the glam rock era, re-emerged with his flamboyant, androgynous alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.
7. How do you select your materials and fabric?
Usually I use one or two new or special materials for a collection, I pay a lot of attention to the functionality and comfort of the fabrics while still being aesthetically pleasing.
8. What part does sustainability play in your work?
Sustainability is essential. For example, details like the perfect wash tag, as will finding sustainable solutions like recycled plastic bags for packaging and alternatives to using animal products.
9. What is your ultimate design goal?
I wanted to combine real-life features with a fictional world. I’m interested in combining the streetwear and luxury fashion areas. I hope to do something new with this integration and to create a new sense of style.
10. What do you think the future will bring to fashion?
It is very difficult for modern people to leave their mobile phones and computers to the side. The mobile phone has almost become our third hand, and we benefit from electronic devices. In the future, the digital environment will manipulate the fashion industry, while fashion will go through a reincarnation and vintage elements will make a comeback.
11. Would you offer fashion rental services to your customers?
12. Do you produce limited edition collections for your customers?
13. What advice would you give to your 5 years younger self?
Dedicate myself to the craft of fashion more, rather than running around in circles with exhausted hobbies. I would also pay more attention to my social circle, and who I can truly trust along the ride.
YYAtomic’s collections are available for rental here: https://www.bulbfashion.com/lender/yyatomic/