The British fashion scene has long been known for it's raw talent, eccentricity and celebration of self-expression. CSM textiles student LuQi Yu is one designer driving that reputation forwards, her unique style made up of inspiration drawn from 90s Chinese and Japanese fashion as well as the rich history of London, at any era.
At only 10 months old, the Instagram page for Yu's brand Nodress Official has already garnered over ten thousand followers, making fans of artists, influencers and models like MØ, Erika Bowes and Bee Beardsworth, as well as drawing the attention of the fashion media with features in Nylon Japan and British Vogue. No big deal.
With no online store, customers can only purchase clothes by email and most pieces are made to order, an example of how young creatives are now solely using Instagram to find their audience, market their product, and drive commerce.
We caught up with LuQi and press manager Hoi Lui to learn more about the brand.
What made you want to come to London and study at CSM?
I used to study industrial design in China but fashion is truly where my passion lies. I'm fascinated by the world outside my hometown. Therefore, I decided to come to London. London is a very forward-thinking city with abundant of culture. Living in this city has given me the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world and to be inspired every day. Although I have many design ideas, I have come to the realise my lack of design knowledge and technical skills throughout development of Nodress. Therefore, I believe that studying at CSM could help me to establish a strong foundation in design and lead me one step closer to my dream.
Where do you generally look for inspiration for your designs?
My daily life and personal desires are the main sources of my design inspirations. I use these sources as a journal, which documents my thoughts and character, and eventually branch the ideas into a whole collection. My friends and the interesting stories that happen around me also inspire me a lot.
How do you take influence from both Chinese and British style when designing?
I am deeply influenced by Chinese style in the 90s and Japanese street style, as they were my starting point. I love the exaggerated shapes and silhouettes of the garments; the bright colours; and people’s fearless self-expression through what they wear.
'Nodress' has been a combination of my experiences in London, whether it be going to the museums looking at oil paintings and sculptures or going to gigs listening to underground music. I also stroll around London looking for vintage treasures that represent British style and document them in my notes.
Do you have a customer in mind when you design your clothes?
The customer is myself, the starting point of all this, actually it comes from me wanting to make clothes for myself, wanting to express myself.
Your designs feel nostalgic and modern at the same time. How do you like to reinvent older pieces or styles?
The details and patterns have been changed through the fabrics that we created, incorporating new inspirations to tell a different story. Also, new styling has given the collections a whole new look.
How do different textiles influence the pieces you make? Do you like to be experimental with textures?
During my studies, I’ve learnt a lot of different techniques in print, knit and weave, which has greatly helped to better inform my collection. And yes, in my collection, I have some pieces that I experimented with textiles on.
Your label is really taking off on Instagram, with influencers like Erika Bowes showing off your pieces. Has this happened organically or have you consciously used social media to promote the brand?
This has completely happened organically. We are grateful and lucky that influencers like Erika post about us and promote us.
You are selling straight to the consumer, with Instagram followers emailing you directly to request pieces, which is interesting. Do you see yourselves starting an online shop any time soon?
Yes! As in fact our official online shop will come out in several months. We just started doing our little business in Europe last year and everything is in the works. So stay tuned.
Are the pieces created for each order or do you have stock ready to sell?
We have stock ready to sell but it is very limited.
What are your plans for the future of the brand?
For now we have no future plan but to improve and stabilise the brand, insuring every customer is satisfied and happy.