HIGHLIGHT
Lovers of the craft
HOMEHIGHLIGHT ▸ Lovers of the craft
2018.04.16

YLY Studio, formed by designers Lilian Tsang and Matt Hui, gives the craft of embroidery a fresh injection of energy and a new place in contemporary fashion.

 

After a decade in the industry working for several prominent fashion brands, the two designers, who were university classmates and then colleagues at Johanna Ho’s studio, decided to create a brand that represents what attracted them to fashion in the first place.

 

“We love fashion and we don’t love fashion. We love workmanship, craft, and creating quality. But this is the past. Now, it’s all about styling and fast fashion, not value. And this is what we don’t love,” Matt explained.

 

 


Having one’s own label is every designer’s dream, but it took not only a dream but good timing and also a shared vision for YLY to become reality. Both Lilian and Matt had gone overseas to study, at Ecole Lesage in Paris and Royal College of Art in London respectively. Upon Lilian’s return to Hong Kong last year, they decided to do a designer show together and from there, the idea of working together on a label was born.

 

All fashion lovers would agree that haute couture is the ultimate goal in craftsmanship. Lilian said: “Why is couture so expensive? It’s because of the techniques involved. We want to show where that value is.”

 

While studying at Ecole Lesage, the prestigious school of embroidery art now part of Chanel, Lilian met classmates from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures. The practice of embroidery is not confined to fashion students, nor is it something that only the older generation pursues, as conventional wisdom would have it.

 

“The truth is, our mothers and grandmothers did much better handiwork than we do. They were not actually doing fashion but they had very high standards. We want to continue this tradition of workmanship but through a new angle,” she said.

 

Matt’s background in knitwear also means that the two designers can complement each other easily, as both knitwear and embroidery possess a crafty element and a similar place in fashion. This synergy also becomes the signature style of YLY, whose target audience is ageless. They are instead defined by a love for craftsmanship rather than trends.

 

At first glance, the use of embroidery might not be transparent in YLY’s designs due to the unconventional materials they use. There are a total of 6 looks in the first collection, which Lilian and Matt call Project A, because their collections are season-less and focus on a different technique every time. The theme is “chain stitch”, similar to crocheting, on knitted or mesh fabrics. Project B will explore the possibilities of the bullion knot, which is a technique used to create dense, three-dimensional textures in embroidery.

 

The designers’ contrasting aesthetics, Lilian being more girly and Matt neutral, means that they are always challenging each other to go out of their comfort zones, and the designs often reflect that creative collision.

 

YLY Studio also tries to bring handicraft closer to everyday life by way of hosting embroidery workshops on weekends. From one day experience workshops to more advanced classes, participants can immerse themselves in French haute couture embroidery or traditional needle embroidery, the latter of which is, interestingly, not so traditional as Lilian always tries to incorporate new materials to create new effects.

 

YLY’s Project A will be available at the FASHIONALLY.com pop-up event to take place at PMQ from April 27 to May 20. 

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