Focusing their collections on Soho, Chinatown and Lower East Side kids, Parsons graduates Haoran Li and Siying Qu take a stand with its socially impactful collections. Launched in 2015, their label Private Policy takes high-quality fabrics such as satin, velvet, silk, wool and fur and combines them with classic shapes to create a visual and tactile sensation. Focusing on reinventing downtown streetwear, Private Policy offers gender-neutral silhouettes with a wide range of sizing.
First of all, who’s behind Private Policy?
A group of New York creatives. We still believe in the magic of the city and want to show that rebellious spirit to the world.
What inspired you to start your label?
In the world of hyper-consumerism, we desire to redefine fashion. We don't want to just make pretty designs but to show people a different side of fashion. We approach collections like news outlets: with different tools of fashion language. We present social and political issues that need conversations.
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What are the struggles with which a young brand like yours deals with? And what are, on the other hand, the perks of being an emergent, new brand?
The obvious struggle is making money while standing firm by our unique vision. The advantage of being a young brand is the freedom. There are so many possibilities to explore and innovate, make our own path.
The brand focuses on gender-neutral fashion. How do you see its identity in terms of this aesthetics?
It results from a very organic process of social changes. We see more and more young people free themselves from the traditional boundaries of men or womenswear, and we want to reflect and encourage this great progression in our designs. With casual silhouettes and no limitation on colours and fabrics, we want people to feel free in our designs with no labelling.
Your webpage background states, “Sworn to fun loyal to none”. What does this stand for?
It stands for the core attitude of Private Policy: be free. Free our bodies, free our mind. That is the way to happiness.
Could you describe a Private Policy customer? How is the person wearing your clothes, and what do your pieces offer to him/her?
Our customers look for creativity, demand high quality, and are intrigued by new ideas. Our clothes bring out their inner energy, enhance their personal style, and most importantly give them freedom to express who they are. Effortless, fun and refined in one package, that is what we offer.
“The advantage of being a young brand is the freedom. There are so many possibilities to explore and innovate, make our own path.”
What is your definition of modern luxury?
Modern luxury is about being real. There are too many ‘fakes’ in this world. People are looking for real food, real music, real designs, and real knowledge. When we design, we stay true to ourselves and true to our customers. By choosing the best fabrics and focusing on every detail, we strive to present one social political topic each season that we are truly invested in.
Do you agree with an opinion that people need fewer clothes now?
It may be the opposite. Before, ‘fashion’ was mostly created for the elite class of society. Today, due to mass production and social media, more and more people have the access and desire for fashion. On average, each person probably owns way more clothes than before. The question we should focus on is, “Do we consume or need so many clothes in our closets?” This is the starting point of Private Policy. We decide to create collections that have social values instead of just traditional commercial value.
Who do you look up to as a role model in designing?
We look up to role models who innovate people’s lifestyle for the better.
Let’s talk about your Fall/Winter 2017 collection. What’s the starting point of it?
The collection was a reaction to how we felt about the current stage of the world relationships. While going through events like Brexit and the Muslim ban we began to think about the overall idea of globalization, which led us to research different perspectives on the issue. What we concluded was that countries are now so socially, politically and economically linked to one another that no one can really function without global support. So, we came up with the analogy of polycephaly: the condition of one body with multiple heads, such as conjoined twins. The body symbolizes the global system, and the heads symbolize the different needs and identities of each country. With this viewpoint in mind, we can see the crucial importance of collaboration and being conscious of the global impact that actions cause.
From there, we created one of our most complex collections, exploring the idea of polycephaly through layers of clothing being connected with a metal snap mechanism. The play on separation and connectivity makes the garments like an experiment on the global relationships topic.
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There’s a specific look, featuring a biker jacket and trousers, which are printed with several different flags from. Is there any particular message behind it? Do you use fashion as a political tool in this case?
Those pieces are made of actual flags, which are cut and re-sewn together. To be frank, we had major debates on whether to cut the national flags or just make fake digital prints. In the end, we decided to cut the actual flags because we wanted to make a true statement of joining nations in a symbolic way by physically uniting the flags, breaking nationalistic prejudice. We specifically chose nations that are ‘powerful’ or ‘popular’ and combined them with nations that are ‘controversial’ or ‘in crisis’. By combining these flags together, we want to present the direct or indirect connection among them, which speaks to the polycephaly concept. Fashion is powerful, so we like to use this power to express our discoveries and thoughts, which we think matter and are necessary to share.
One of your collections took inspiration from the movie Snowpiercer. How did it reflect in the clothes?
It was the Fall/Winter 2016 collection. Snowpiercer is a story about classism, where the extremely poor start a revolution against the rich. The movie uses different colours and textures to separate the classes. Within the Fall/Winter 2016 collection, we explored ways to mix ‘high’ and ‘low’ fashion, symbolizing our revolution on classism with our use of fabrication, colour, and silhouettes.
For example, we use silk wool and velvet, which have often been used for royal clothing during history. Instead of fashioning couture garments, we used them to make everyday bomber jackets and casual mini shorts. To push the rebel on classism, we make streetwear with luxury trims and treatments, such as one-of-a-kind metal vintage buttons with a hummingbird motif and fully hand-beaded graphics. It is a collection breaking norms of traditional classist symbols.
What are your plans for the next year?
We will continue to raise awareness and conversations about social and political topics through our designs, presentations, shows, and collaborations. Spring/Summer 2018 will hit closer to home.
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