We probably have a mental encyclopedia full of the names of the most iconic or impactful designers and brands in fashion. Well, it's time to update this list with a new addition: Annakiki. Proposing a new era in fashion where technology and the metaverse are as relevant as our reality, designer Anna Yang speaks a new language, and in this interview, she tells us what it consists of.
Always ahead of her time, the Chinese designer Anna Yang founded her brand Annakiki 10 years ago, when the industry and our society were not yet ready to normalise concepts or techniques like 3D printing or cutting, let alone the creation of garments in digital universes, but where she already had a futuristic vision for her brand. Over the years, it has come to a point where these concepts are not only appreciated but also in demand, which explains the growing and unstoppable popularity of Annakiki in the last few years.

Having presented her collections as part of the Milan Fashion Week calendar since 2017, being the first brand to present an AI-empowered collection, receiving recognitions such as the ‘Chinese Label of the Moment’ by Camera Nazionale della Moda, and with offices in Italy and China, Annakiki has all the elements to become the brand of the moment. Yang bases the concept of Annakiki on a duality represented by the two n's in the name; in the logo, one is a reflection of the other, just as the present is reflected in the future, fashion in technology, and reality in surrealism.

In this conversation, Yang tells us about the concepts behind her collections, how the unique circumstances of the last few years have impacted her design processes, and what we can expect from Annakiki in the future.
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Could you please introduce yourself and the brand? What do you consider to be the most important factor or pillar of Annakiki?
“Two sides of me dare to be different,” that is what I want the brand to convey to people, and we hope that Annakiki wearers will be able to immerse themselves in the fanatical fantasy space of retrofuturism and create their own distinct aesthetic attitude.
Where are you right now? You were not able to attend Milan Fashion Week, and we understand that Covid restrictions remain very strong in China; are you still affected by this?
I’m in China, and fortunately, the impact of the epidemic on us has been reduced. I am very glad that there is a new response policy for Covid-19. I believe that Annakiki and I will be able to successfully participate in the next Milan Fashion Week.
Have you been able to adjust your way of working to these difficult times that have been going on for longer there than in the rest of the world? Has this situation taken a toll on you, or are you dealing with it well?
This is a very difficult time for the world, but I believe there are more ways than there are difficulties, and we will find a way to get through it, and we have.
The special circumstances of the last few years have created an unusual but adequate space for the development of new technologies and universes. Your brand has a strong focus on this creative path. Do you think this situation has made the general public more receptive to projects like yours?
The special times of the past have limited people, and it is harder than ever to experience the good things. But thanks to new technologies, people can have more diverse experiences in the virtual world through the online world and social media. Just as Annakiki was the first brand to use algorithms to create fashion, our NFT collection is a new experience.
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How do you find the balance between what you create for the real and for the virtual worlds? When do you tend to lean more toward each one of them?
I like to find inspiration in my current life, past fashion history, and future fantasies. As a designer and creator, I think imagination is very important. I often create with the imagination of the future, explore the mysteries of the future and the universe, mix and collide the past, the present, and the future in a sensitive and emotional way, find the balance between the new and the old, and create something completely new. I can always feel the contradictory beauty in the process of creation, which will bring me more surprises and is also one of the expression forms of retrofuturism that I like.
You've been working on your brand for ten years now. Creative jobs are always spontaneous and unpredictable, but is the brand developing in a way that is close to what you imagined when you first created it, or would a younger Anna have never imagined what Annakiki is now?
When Annakiki started, I wanted to do a style that was not available on the market in the clothing industry. Annakiki's unrestrained and bizarre temperament has always been rooted in the DNA of the brand, with its 3D cutting and various weird shapes of sleeves, intricate techniques, and deconstructed asymmetrical designs. Since the spring and summer of 2021, the brand has been completely upgraded and redesigned, with the logo now positioned in a retrofuturistic style. The universe of science and technology is the carrier of the brand, and the spiritual core of both sides is integrated to create a new brand image.
Black and white are a must-have in your collections, and they are fundamental to the brand's identity. What is there behind these two tones that make them so essential for your designs?
Black, white, grey, and silver are the main colours used after my brand upgrade. They are the most basic but also the most creative. They can do amazing things with different colours. In fact, phosphor, techno green, electric blue, and red are also the colours I have been using in the past series.
As you have mentioned, these shades are frequently paired with vibrant solid colours. For example, in your Spring/Summer 2023 collection, we see almost neon pink pops of colour in many of the looks. What do you want to convey in this case, and how do you think the interaction between colour and its absence adds to your designs?
 I was inspired by fractal art in British Director Nic Stacey’s documentary, The Secret Life of Chaos. The bright pop of colour is meant to enhance and accentuate the collection's theme – fractal art. Colour is just one of the ways to show it. In addition to using a heavy craft fabric collage form to express the pattern, the metal chain is hand sewn into the artistic pattern shape, presenting unique three-dimensional texture details, and computer embroidery in the form of fractal art is like a psychedelic feeling entering the cosmic vortex. I used a variety of elements in this collection to achieve a visual impact.
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Your designs are an accumulation of many outstanding elements like the colour, the material, and the silhouettes. I'm curious about your process of creation. Which one of these factors tends to lead the way in what the final product should look like, or what usually comes first when building a collection?
I start each collection with a very abstract idea, I find a big idea, and then start creating. I have a very free way of working; I don't like too many restrictions, and I think the creation without the restrictions of the framework will bring more unexpected results. The idea of design is very broad, not only limited to the fabric and cut, and not only the shape, colour, or material of the sleeve and collar, but also everything that happens around you, and many other things you can think of about design. For me, any imagination can become a design.
From your Fall/Winter 2022 fashion show set with the screens with eyes à la Big Brother to your store full of red in a museum-like setting, your brand has a performative element to it. I'm curious about your inspirations, what's on your mood board?
On my mood boards, you can find anything; most of the inspiration comes after I read a book, watch a film, or listen to a particular song... Then there is geometry; I like all the forms, from the curves to the most linear ones. To be completely honest, anything inspires me wherever I go.
With a brand like yours, where technologies and the virtual universe are already part of their codes, where do you think fashion is heading?
Modern technology is getting more and more advanced, and with the popularity of virtual clothing, people want to express themselves in the virtual world without being bound. Users can use virtual clothing to create not only a new identity tag image but also a new way of life. To achieve low-carbon fashion, virtual clothing is more imaginative and inclusive than traditional fashion. At the same time, it has a more far-reaching significance: reducing the burden on the earth and being very environmentally friendly. NFT virtual clothing also has irreplaceable properties. It creates an eternal connection between a digital file and its creator, which means it can be used to represent something unique and thus signify a person's place in the digital realm.
Where are Annakiki and Anna Yang headed, what’s next for you and the brand?
We will continue to stick to what Annakiki wants to convey, as mentioned earlier, “two sides of me, dare to be different.” I will devote myself to the creation of the Fall/Winter 2023 collection and the preparation for Milan Fashion Week.
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