HIGHLIGHT
The Brave Adventurers - Cynthia & Xiao
HOMEHIGHLIGHT ▸ The Brave Adventurers - Cynthia & Xiao
2016.12.29

They say being young gives you every reason to explore. As part of Lane Crawford’s “Created in China” programme, fashion brand Cynthia & Xiao is extremely active in collaborations apart from their apparels line. The talented duo, Cynthia and Xiao, began their friendship as dorm neighbours when attending Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Upon graduation, Cynthia pursued a luxury retailing career in Hong Kong, while Xiao embarked on fashion design and production. Eventually the two decided to join hands for the dynamic yet sophisticated Cynthia & Xiao. Exclusively interviewed by FASHIONALLY, co-founder Cynthia tells us about their latest adventures. 
 
In September 2016, Cynthia & Xiao was invited to Milan Fashion Week as the only Hong Kong brand to be showcased in the Whiteast programme. Organised by Milan’s largest trade show, WHITE, Whiteast aims to present Chinese design to local buyers and fashion insiders. Entering its second year, the three-day programme invited 13 apparel, footwear and bag designers, showcasing their work in a designated venue. Apart from a large number of buyers and media attending the programme, luxury online shop LuisaViaRoma also covered the programme in their feature story.

The development of the brand extends not only in Europe but also within the Chinese mainland. Since its debut at Shanghai Fashion Week, the brand has received overwhelming response, with six additional stockists this season. “Apart from Shanghai and Beijing, second- and third-tier cities - such as Nanjing, Guizhou, Ningbo and Wuhan - are full of potential. The stockists there welcome young designers and have relatively high budgets. Their shopping malls possess novel interior design and huge space for apparel display,” explains Cynthia.
 
Stylish urban ladies in their mid-20s to 40s are attracted by the “bold basic” pieces of Cynthia & Xiao. “They love colour and patterns, hoping to wear something comfy that express themselves at the same time. These ladies long for special products and unique designs, which are exactly what we offer for easy mix-and-matching,” Cynthia elaborates. With “memphis x space” as its theme, the S/S 2017 collection focuses on blending various contrasting elements. Memphis aesthetics click in perfectly with the brand’s bold basic spirit, applying special patterns and colours on simple outfit silhouette by matching different fabrics with geometric shapes and patterns. On the other hand, futuristic space essence is reflected by the pieces’ sophisticated silver embroidery detailing.
 
Their S/S 2017 collection also features a collaboration with jewellery brand Everard & Wang, who had a booth next to Cynthia & Xiao at Shanghai Fashion Week. Cynthia and Xiao fell in love with the simple and conceptual pieces of Everard & Wang and both brands later agreed to collaborate at the right time. “Collaboration projects enrich the product story, at the same time extending our concepts to fields that we are not familiar with (for instance, accessories and shoes). Cross-selling is an effective marketing strategy for two relatively young brands,” says Cynthia.
 
The designers find inspiration while on the road. “During Fashion Week, there usually are showrooms representing our brand and managing reservations. We go out on the days without reservation, to explore the city and do market research. To us, it is best to get inspired when we are on the road, as the stimulation you encounter are always diverse and up-to-date,” says Cynthia, who noted that their A/W 2017 collection will be the most quintessential collection so far, combining woven (Cynthia’s major) and knit (Xiao’s major) detailing throughout the collection. Such combination can rarely be found due to technical constraints and because it demands close collaboration by various sampling and production units.
 
Apart from seasonal collections, the designers continue exploring special projects, including collaborating with a social enterprise in Hong Kong for a limited quantity of accessories to go with apparels and bags, with profits going to charity. Another collaboration is set in Beijing, where a lifestyle product store launched eco and chic products using leftover fabrics from current and past collections of Cynthia & Xiao. 
 
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