Li Ying, Ying the Label
The creative behind this Singapore-based fashion label talks her passion for painting, her interest in introducing new technologies to her design process and the current state of the fashion scene in the city.
Instinctive, attentively minimalistic but far from the ordinary, Li Ying uses fabrics as her canvas and she takes wearable art to greater heights through her chic hand-painted prints.
After studying for four years in Melbourne, Li Ying noticed a lack of vibrancy in fashion on her return to Singapore. She soon filled the gap by translating her passion for painting into fashion and hence, created Ying the Label.
Enthused by the simple things in life, her designs are created using abstract brush strokes dipped in whimsical colour palettes. The result? Unique and poetic prints that transcend seasons and inspire you to had a splash of colour to your wardrobe.
Li Ying shares how digital printing has affected her design process, how her personal style translates to her designs as well as her approach to business and some useful tips for emerging designers in this engaging interview.
It’s all about being yourself. You need to feel the passion for inspiring people with what you do. Let your designs reflect who you are. Be truly passionate – you will realise this is what keeps you up all night, and it will be all worth it.
Image: Founder, Li Ying
Tell us about yourself as a designer. How did you decide to become a designer/founder of your own label?
I studied in Melbourne for 4 years, and the fashion there was always vibrant and colourful. People were dressed in prints! When I came back to Singapore, I realised I could not find anything like what I found in Australia, and I thought I needed to make Singapore fashion a tad bit more colourful.
How did the idea for Ying the Label transpire?
I always had a passion for painting. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to use my passion, and hopefully talent and translate them into wearable art. That was how Ying started.
Who is behind the brand and what roles do they play?
I am the person in charge of designs and conceptualising. I do have a great family who supports me, and 2 staff who helps me with marketing and sales, as well as operations.
Tell us about your design process.
I get inspired by my everyday, and usually by emotions. Colour palettes are highly dependent on my thoughts and emotions. I love painting abstract flowers and nature. Hence, I draw my inspirations from landscapes and nature, but I paint them as my own interpretation.
Every art piece has a story behind it. Once I am done painting, I then discuss with my team on how this can be translated onto fabrics and made into clothes. Hence, my silhouettes are not usually complicated, but very easy to wear, as I like the art to take the spotlight.
How was this process affected when introducing digital printing? Was there a difference in method/quality since you’ve used digital printing methods in previous collections?
Digital print, especially the technology that Epson provides, allow me to firstly replicate my art pieces almost exactly onto fabrics. Also, it gives me the flexibility of printing lesser minimum order quantities (MOQ), and I am able to make my art pieces more exclusive. The turn around time is fast, and it really makes the whole process more efficient.
Tell us more about your collection, The Moment.
The moment was inspired by my exact thoughts of the moment. I was going through a time where I felt that I needed to take the time to enjoy the moments I was in – be it the happiness and contentment I ought to have from my achievements to the times where I struggled but found a silver lining. These are emotions we all go through, and I used abstract brush strokes to tell these stories.
What is your take on integrating fashion with technology?
I am a big supporter. I believe as traditional as fashion can get, it is important that we consider using technology to improve our processes and make our products more reliable.
It takes the right people and the right opportunity before we can take things to the next level. We are really lucky that right now, we are seeing lots of support from TaFf, as well as giants like Epson.
Image: Ying the Label at FUZE FashionIsTech 2017
What are your top tips for emerging designers?
I would say I am still an emerging designer, but to me – it’s all about being yourself. You need to feel the passion for inspiring people with what you do. Let your designs reflect who you are. Be truly passionate – you will realise this is what keeps you up all night, and it will be all worth it.
I think everyone will need some help at some point in time, and thus, I truly am thankful for TAFF’s help so far. They have opened up new doors and channels and this is something to consider when you are starting out.
How would you describe your personal style? Does it translate to your designs?
Yeah, I mean there are days I dress in solids, but even so, I love clashing the colours. I enjoy dressing vibrantly. I embrace prints a lot!
How would you describe the style/vibe of your city?
Singapore is an interesting place. We are a very vibrant city, because of our diversification. I think I can someday paint something that reflects Singapore as a nation.
In your opinion, what’s the current state of the fashion industry in Singapore?
I think we are in a good position, as we have always been a star in Asia. However, the creative industry will take some time to really gain exposure. We have talents, I believe, but it is not easy to get our voices heard because we are still a small nation and creative expression is not as simple as it looks.
It takes the right people and the right opportunity before we can take things to the next level. We are really lucky that right now, we are seeing lots of support from Taff, as well as giants like Epson. For instance, the recent collaboration with Taff and Epson at FashionTech has opened up doors for me in terms of manufacturing choices, as well as new connections.
What’s your approach to business?
Make mistakes along the way, but never make it twice. Be out there, and be humble. Only then, you get into the right conversations, and you make real friends who will be there to grow with you.
What do you do in your downtime?
Paint? Other than that, whenever I feel stressed, I go for a run. It gives me time to think.