Q & A with Fashion Brand Ryan Li


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Ryan Li

Vancouver based fashion designer

MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

Our designs are heavily based on shapes and proportions. The underlying message is to empower our customers through a heuristic process. As for myself, I was drawn into the world of fashion at a young age. The vibrant Japanese streetwear culture was my starting point. Once I finished my degree in Business, I attended fashion school and involved myself in various couture and tailoring ateliers to expand my horizons and fulfil my dream.


MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?

I have always been an enthusiast of art and fashion. You can interpret artwork freely as there is no fixed answer to clarify the meaning. Art and fashion, to me, are very personal and imaginative. I see fashion as an alternative method to display my visions and emotions because I can tailor fashion into an expression of my own.  At the same time, the audience can interpret my work based on their own imagination and experience. 

MM: Can you describe your creative process?


I begin my creative process by researching and brainstorming, this stage usually takes the longest time. Once I have a clear vision about the collection, I begin to sketch  out the ideas and silhouettes. I would say the most creative moment is the fitting sessions. I directly cut and drape fabrics on the models. At the end, it all comes down to modifying and tailoring the garments to create an illusion of my own.

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MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?

I can find inspiration literally anywhere; from an art piece from the 14th century in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to a trash can on Pender Street. Working with my team, and the scenarios that happen in my personal life, are very inspiring too.

MM: What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you begin creating a collection?

I ask myself a lot of questions when I begin creating a collection. The most often asked questions are: what’s the story behind the collection? and how does this relate to me and the people who inspire me?

MM: How did you learn the business of fashion?

I had the amazing opportunity to work with Rimpy Sahota, a local designer, for my first ever internship. She taught me the knowledge of business of fashion. I learned a lot by observing her approach to marketing and the way she operates her brand.

MM: How do you find working as a designer in Canada? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

It is not easy on a personal level, but it has been an amazing journey. My designs reflect my ideas and experiences with different cultural backgrounds; my works and I are basically one. 

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MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

I am constantly motivated to create something new and innovative, that’s probably my favourite part of being a designer. Seeing the positive impacts my designs bring to my consumers is very fulfilling as well. My goal of pushing fashion forward drives me to create every single day.

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MM: What is the inspiration behind your F/W19 collection which was showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist, inspired me to integrate menswear and tailoring elements into womenswear.  Personal life experiences also played a huge part in the collection as well. 

Thank you for giving us an insight into your brand Ryan Li.

Check out Ryan Li at: Atelieryanli.com

Q & A with fashion brand Sorockolita

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SOROCKOLITA

Designer Viktoriia Stukalova

MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

Creating my brand, I wanted to tell a "fairy tale" about a girl. She is refined and even if she is not associated with the creative profession - in her soul, she is an artist. She is very self-sufficient and always in a hurry. But she puts all of herself into what she does. The most important things for her are quality, space, nature and comfort. I really wanted to dress my girl in natural quality materials that are pleasant to the touch.

It is important to surround ourselves with comfortable clothing because we are always in a hurry. The Sorockolita girl evolves with the brand and can dressed in cozy sweatshirts, soft leggings, elaborate jackets, or stunning embroidered silk dresses.

MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?

My mother and father. During my childhood she would try to instill in me a sense of style and always guided me. In her youth, she designed and made my clothes and at every holiday party I wore the most beautiful dresses from our own personal collection. From my father I learned how to draw and put my ideas on paper. Although the profession was not imposed by my parents and it became my conscious choice - through their artistic influence, it naturally became the only career I wanted to pursue.

MM: Can you describe your creative process?

My creative process is quite chaotic, especially the creation of sketches. Usually I can’t put my ideas on paper for weeks and one night, suddenly, I will draw over 100 sketches. Of course not all of them will make it into a final product but I love the process of working out an experimental sample. Next, I work on model and display lines and select materials and accessories. It is a real pleasure.

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MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?

I try to see the beauty in everything, even standing in a traffic jam in Moscow. It can be a movie, literature or even a video game. When travelling for example, you can come back with your energy recharged and ready to create. Nature, architecture, and people - all these things affect my perception and inspire my collections.

MM: What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you begin creating a collection?

According to the rules of marketing, I have to ask the question "what problem do I want to solve?" But for me, that isn’t the most important thing. Most often the question I ask myself is, “what do I need at this moment in my life?” As it turns out, my customers and I are always on the same page.

MM: How did you learn the business of fashion?

I am always learning something new in fashion. It all started with my profession as costume designer and designer-technician. After that, I took several training courses in fashion marketing, fashion illustrations, and design. The fashion industry is actively changing and learning only through institutions isn’t going to get a designer very far. This is why I always try to learn alongside my team or teach them something new that can improve their skills.

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MM: How do you find working as a designer in Russia? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

In the last few years, more and more young fashion brands have been expanding the creative scene in Russia which has caused the government to support creatives more than before. To have be noticed and invited to showcase at Vancouver Fashion Week is not only a great honour, but also a confirmation that young Russian designers are beginning to attract the attention of the international fashion industry.

Of course! My connection to my native country is a big part of what I do. Our logo is a Magpie. In Slavic mythology, it is a bird that belongs to the witches and enjoys shiny objects. It is a very feminine bird. To me, it is like a mysterious collective image of a woman dressed in black and white colors.

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MM: What is the inspiration behind your F/W19 collection which was showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

A person I hold dear, is closely related to Japanese culture and this has made an impression on me. This collection includes a few elements of Japanese culture but overall is still in brand with Sorockolita’s black and white palette and multifunctionality focus.

MM: What is your favourite piece from the new collection?

One of the corsets took so much strength and hard work out of our team that we almost gave up on it. Once it was completed however, we were all so proud of ourselves that it quickly became our favourite! I hope that after the show every one in the audience will find their own favourite FW19 piece.

Thank you for telling us about your journey into fashion design.

Check out Sorockolita at: Sorockolita


Q & A with fashion brand Margot

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MARGOT

Japanese Brand

MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

Hana Imai, designer for Margot, is a Japanese model for A-Plus, a Japanese entertainment production company. She has appeared on various TV shows, magazines, and fashion show events, not only as a model, but also as a designer for MARK STYLER since 2013. After 5 years practicing as a designer, she will launch her own brand “Margot” this spring, March 1st, 2019.

“Margot” is a brand that empowers all women by supporting their inner beauty and self-love. Our aim is to bring out the hidden attractions and charm that every woman has.

Our first collection will be an all dress line-up which one can wear on a wide range of occasions, from casual days to formal events.

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 MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?

When I was working as a Gal (a Japanese subculture) model, I found myself very interested in clothing and fashion culture and I found the confidence to start my own brand. I have a lot of experience that I have accumulated over the past 5 years working as a designer and it was time for me to put it to use to grow my personal brand.

 MM: Can you describe your creative process?

I believe that everyone has concerns or problems with their body and fashion so I wanted to help them by designing clothes. The reason I am designing a dress collection, is to simplify everyday outfits so women have more time to focus on their beauty and self-love.

 MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?

Social media is a big part of my life and it is a great way to research modern women’s needs and information. That is where I get most of my inspiration.

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 MM: What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you begin creating a collection?

What clothes do I want to wear myself? What clothes make me happy?

MM: How did you learn the business of fashion?

Through my background working with several designers.

MM: How do you find working as a designer in Japan? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

I am thankful and proud of myself for being able to work as a designer for the past years in the respectful Japanese culture. Giving hospitality to others is a big part of our culture, which I love. I want “Margot” to be the brand to help the empower women through the clothing we create.

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MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

When I see the clothes I designed with love on people walking down the street or on social media, I feel excited and experience a happiness that I have never felt before.  

 MM: What is the inspiration behind your F/W19 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

Our theme for this collection is women and everything they symbolize.

 MM: What is your favourite item from the new collection?

I don’t have a particular favourite because I put so much effort and love into every piece that I love them all! I can’t wait to show our new collection.

Thank you for telling us about your journey into fashion design. We can't wait to see Margot show at Vancouver Fashion Week for the F/W19 season.

Check out Margot on Instagram.

Q & A with fashion brand Ming Studio

Designer Ming, graduated from the Beijing Institute of Fashion Design, with a degree in sewing. “Ming” was established and became an independent brand in 2015.

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MING STUDIO

Taiwan based fashion brand

MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

I like to use a combination of simple and complex styles to create my designs. I am not afraid of the existing international clothing brands on the market because I believe I have created the best brand. I like to design and hand craft each piece of clothing so that it is original, innovative, and comfortable to wear. I want to be the Kusama Yayoi of the fashion world. While I may have seemed inconspicuous in the past, I am confident in my designs.

MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?

When I was in high school, I liked Kusama Yayoi 's works of art and it inspired me to pursue art as a career. My family disapproved of me going into art and design so I ultimately chose fashion design. I began to learn how to draw, design and produce fashion pieces. Soon after that, designing clothes became my life!

MM: Can you describe your creative process?

I like to feel the material before drawing the design. The texture of it will sometimes bring me inspiration and I will visualize the design. Each process, from drafting to the final stage, is carefully crafted. Each design is different and has its own unique personal style.

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MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?

I like to seek inspiration in my daily life and emotions. I like to travel alone to places I want to go just to see if something will catch my eye. Every aspect of my creations is closely related to the connections between people and the emotions that arise from human interaction.

MM: What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you begin creating a collection?

Before I start designing a collection I ask myself , “What do I want to express with my collection?” “What message do I want to send across?”

MM: How did you learn the business of fashion?

Before I started designing, I didn't know what fashion design entailed since I was just an art student. Most of my experience was in drawing and calligraphy. In high school, I began to learn how to design clothes and accessories. I designed, made, and honed my craft and I found that I love designing clothes. In order to improve my skills, I left my comfort zone and moved to Beijing to study at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT).  This gave me a much better understanding of the fashion industry. BIFT gave me the opportunity to learn more about fashion as well as inspired me to continue my love for designing.

MM: How do you find working as a designer in Taiwan? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

After being back from Beijing, I worked as a women's wear design assistant and I found that I didn’t enjoy working on design styles that I wouldn’t wear myself. I decided to quit my job to become an independent designer and create my own design and studio. It didn’t run as smoothly as I hoped. My family opposed the brand I had created, and expected me to become a civil servant. Being stubborn and not satisfied with the constraints of my parents, I continued to create my own brand.  When I returned to my hometown, I found that every place has its own culture and aesthetics. The many memories of my early childhood all deeply affect my designs.

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MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

I like to draw my own designs and the freedom that brings.


MM: What is the inspiration behind your F/W19 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

My inspiration comes from my childhood memories. My grandmother always likes to carry colourful bags and take me to the market to buy vegetables. She’ll go to the tangerine shop and buy me my favorite snack “Prince noodles”. I like the bright and transparent packaging of the “Prince Noodles” snacks. I grew up to know a simple and retro bag that we called “Eggplant bag”.  I want to put the color of the bag, material, and my favorite “Prince” face packaging color design into my clothing so that each piece of clothing is retro yet stylish, and nostalgic yet comfortable.

MM: What is your favourite piece from the new collection?

I like all the pieces from my collection. If I really had to pick one, I like the “Nostalgic Retro Tricolor” piece.

Check out MING Studio on Instagram: @ming_design_studio

Interview with Spanish Couture House Yolancris

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Yolancris

Spanish Haute Couture Brand

Fashion brand Yolancris originated in Barcelona in 2005 and has since grown significantly. In 2008, this fashion house debuted in the Gaudí runway shows in Barcelona and eleven years later they brought their Spring-Summer 2019 ‘Opera Prima’ collection to Paris. Since then, Yolancris has created a big name for itself, and has been showcased by many influential celebrities and artists such as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.

The Yolancris show during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week took place in a beautiful and ornate 18th century building; the Hôtel Le Marois- France Ameriques. We interviewed Yolanda Perez, designer and creative director for Yolancris, to find out more about the inspiration for this jaw-dropping collection and successful brand!

How was your Haute Couture Fashion Week experience?

Overall it was a very positive experience but certainly a test because of the pressure of competing on a platform with huge names like Jean Paul Gaultier, Viktor & Rolf or Zuhair Murad. But the experience has been very good and we are very happy.

This was Yolancris’ first show in Paris. What did this mean to you?

As a designer, doing a fashion show in Paris is always a dream come true. I admire classic creators and artists such as Balenciaga, Christian Dior, and Valentino. To be closer to them in any way is always an honour and an opportunity to learn.

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What was it like growing up with a mother in the fashion and bridal business? How has it influenced the creation of your brand?

Our mother was head of production for bridal companies for many years and eventually opened her first store in 1985. From the young age of 7, my sister Cristina and I, would spend our time after school collecting needles at my mother’s store. We owe everything to her. She now works for the company and at 68 years of age, never missed a day!

What is it like working in the fashion business together as sisters?

We get along very well. I am the creative director and designer and my sister is in charge of the economic and commercial part of the business so our jobs do not interfere. We have a lot of faith and trust in each other’s work.

As two successful business women in the modern age, what is your advice for aspiring women designers?

I would advise them to learn a job, a craft. Paying for expensive bachelor and graduate degrees is one way to gain experience but it is not essential to dedicate yourself to fashion. You have to learn by doing.

"Walker, there is no path, the path is made by walking”

“Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar”

- Antonio Machado.

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What does the word ‘craftsmanship’ mean to you in regard to your collection?

It is present in everything we do. We do not design digitally or sketch. We assemble each and every one of the pieces on a mannequin. We are guided by intuition and trial and error. Craftsmanship and proximity are some of the most important values of the brand which we believe translate into our designs. Many of them could not be mass produced. All of our production is made in-house in our workshop in Barcelona since all of the materials and fabrics are bought locally.

What separates this collection from your previous work?

This SS19 Couture collection differs from the others in that I've let explore freely and create without constraints more so than in my other collections.

Barcelona was an inspiration for this collection. In what ways does the influence of a location play an important role when designing a collection?

Everything that surrounds you inspires you. The place where you live certainly does and Barcelona is such a special city that it naturally happened that way. Art is very present in my collections: Art Nouveau, pre-Raphaelites, Surrealism, the light of Sorolla and so on.

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The show took place in the Hôtel Le Marois- France Ameriques. How did you choose the location?

I saw it in a fashion show of a German brand and it was love at first sight.

The last Spanish designer to attend Haute Couture Fashion Week was in 2009. What is it like to be important Spanish designers at this time?

It's a big step. With everything being so ephemeral nowadays, you need to relativize. There’s work to do the next day.

How do you want your customer to feel when wearing your dresses?

I want her to feel powerful, elegant, and sophisticated. Most importantly, I want her to feel empowered. Femininity is a very subjective concept, but femininity as I understand it, is one of the pillars of my designs.

What are your future hopes and goals for Yolancris?

I started working when I was 16, so I would like to slow down a bit at some point in order to be able to combine work and family. For the time being, we want to keep doing as many new things as possible.

Your dresses have been worn by many influential people. How important is it while growing a brand to have celebrity clients?

Dressing celebrities gives you a lot of notoriety and it is always an honour that the best and most famous singers on the planet wear your clothes. However, we do not prioritise celebrities over any other client. It is as important to us to dress Beyoncé or Lady Gaga as it is to dress any anonymous client. The same effort and love is put into their designs.

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At what point as designers did you feel you had become a successful brand?

I don’t think you're ever aware of exactly when you're at the top. You feel it, but in a way that makes it hard to grasp. We intend to continue growing and working on Yolancris.

Thank you for telling us about your journey and continuing to inspire young designers!

Check out the website here: Yolancris.

Written by: Abby Droeger & Jessica Haltrecht