Runway photography courtesy of photographer Dale Rollings
Please share a bit about your journey to embrace fashion design as a career.
I’ve always liked fashion since secondary school after being introduced to the world of fashion from Fashion TV, the internet and various magazines. I became obsessed with models, fashion designers and their world. I aspired to be a designer or a stylist ever since.
How did you learn your skills?
I studied at Blanche MacDonald. Studying fashion design is a lot of hard work and barely any sleep. I did not know how to sew at all before Blanche and couldn’t tell the difference between a seam or a hem or what a bobbin is. But the course at Blanche was very fast, so I had to work extra hard and practice a lot to get the hang of sewing. So sewing was definitely the biggest challenge for me during school. During London College of Fashion, the biggest challenge and the whole objective of the course was to discover who you were as a designer and what your voice is in this industry. So naturally there was a lot of soul searching and really thinking deeply about what I wanted to do with my voice in the industry.
I am an optimist. So I want to bring happiness and a sense of fun in my collections. I want to say that it’s okay to have some fun, and not be so serious all the time with my clothes. I create colourful and minimal garments that explore the fine line between reality and fantasy. My aesthetics rollick the happy emotions of childhood, nostalgia and wanderlust; and ponder the very definition of femininity in a modern, quirky way through garments.
The ALEX S. YU woman loves to have fun, and isn’t afraid of trying new things. She loves colour, prints, quirky shapes, textures, and most importantly, values comfort. The ALEX S. YU woman is eccentric, lively, nonchalant and views life through a pair of rose tinted glasses. I create two collections per year, SS and AW. Custom works are limited and thoroughly selected. I usually only accept custom works from VIP customers or if their requests are in tune with my aesthetics and vibes.
What comes easiest for you as a designer? What is hardest?
The easiest part for me as a designer is the storytelling process as I tend to daydream a lot, so it is easy for me to go wild with my imagination and tell my story and point of view. On the contrary, the hardest part for me as a designer is to find that fine line of balance between creativity and wearability of the garment. The few recent seasons I have been playing two roles - one is to let my imagination run wild while the other is to act as a guard to hold myself back and think from a customer's perspective.
Where do you find inspiration for new collections? How important is colour to your design process?
I don't limit myself to a singular source, oftentimes, I am inspired by various contrasting elements and I use my own style to combine these sources of inspirations into my own design. However, my inspirations tend to come from youth subcultures, contemporary arts, films or various periods in history. Colour is very important to my collections and I always include all shades of colours into my collections.
Readers would love to know more about the current collection you showed at Vancouver Fashion Week.
The collection started with the idea of synchronicity - an experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally un-related. The collection ties vastly different sources of inspirations into a cohesive and coexistent manner.
The collection begins with connections to the youthful silhouettes of sixties - particularly embedded with mini skirts, shift dresses and mod-style shirtings. The Japanese idols from the 90s and 00s lent the colourful prints, baby doll silhouettes and the designer’s signature usages of ruffles and gather. The collection is tied together with a nod to the 00s sportswear and athleisure vibes
The youthful femininity of ALEX S. YU is interpreted into the collection via the play of proportion and silhouettes. Varying textiles and textures coupling with in-house designed original prints finish the overall look of the collection.
Do you have a favorite look in this collection?
It's hard to pick a favourite as I spend so much effort and time making each look. However, if I had to pick just one - I would say the opening brown/beige coat is my favourite because to me, it symbolizes a new beginning and an evolution in my style.
Where can readers purchase your designs?
I host a pop up shop every season after Vancouver Fashion Week in various different locations throughout downtown and Gastown in Vancouver. My designs are also stocked at retail shops in Tran5cend (Vancouver), London (Wear that Walk) and New York (Red Velvet Boutique). My online shop is available to shop from as well.
What's next for you as a designer and your brand?
I would like to continue making collections and get my clothes into boutiques around the world. My long term dream would be to have my own flagship store selling the collection. If I have my own store, I can present my ideas and voice holistically from the clothes, to the interior designs to the layout of the store.
What advice do you have for young fashion artists just beginning their journey to become designers?
My one advice is that you need to love what you're doing because this industry is very tough. The majority of the time is spend crouched in front of a sewing machine or hovering over paper patterns in a tiny studio. It's long hours of hard work to prepare a collection and it will be many seasons before you even start to make a profit. So you need to love what you do.