“Clothing seems to always be the last medium we create. We always start with world-building,” Eugene Leung and Dan Tse, the creative minds behind Injury, tell us. Calling Injury a fashion house is like calling McDonalds a hamburger joint — gravely deceptive, when speaking of a many billion dollar corporation responsible for bringing us McFlurries, giant indoor PlayPlaces, Ronald McDonald, and one of — probably the single-most universal points of shared reference after Jesus Christ. Injury reserve is on its way to being one of the greats.
Perhaps it's an absence of formal training in fashion, or such a seasoned profound obsession with fantasy that allows them to overlook this normal world with its normal rules — it’s not that Leung and Tse are breaking rules, exactly. They just have no idea that a rulebook exists — “Fashion is a playground,” as one of the founders has said, a medium through which a puerile infatuation with superheroes and fantasy is transformed, through cutting-edge technology, into a brilliantly complex multimedia scheme — what they call a world.
It’s easy to picture the childhood bedrooms of Injury Creative Director and Founder (Leung) and Brand Director (Tse). Figurines littered across Marvel-print carpets, little people in awesome capes that grasped their attention so tightly, for both Eugene and David, in their separate households, it took calling their names thrice at dinner time for their parents to even stand a chance against the thrill of Batman. Though we’ve forgotten by now, superheroes really are freaking great — characters with faces and backstories and powers and lifestyles and goals and aesthetics and idiosyncrasies. Basically us, but can fly. Anyone who read Harry Potter or watched Star Wars can recall the period of days or weeks during which a book or ticket gave them access in and out of a whole other galaxy at any whim. Injury immerses us in this sort of brilliance.
What the creatives behind Injury are attempting is not all that different — a collection of vivid imaginations come together in a world-building project. When built, said world is free for our viewing pleasure in the form of a short movie, or available for delivery (in the form of clothing) at our doorstep. Today we have Eugene Leung and Dan Tse here to walk us through their many-headed monster baby, the 55555 collection, which we saw at Australian Fashion Week in May and haven’t been able to stop thinking about since.
Hello! So great to be with you here today to talk everything Injury. To get us oriented on your brand, I have a couple silly questions to ask you. A, can you tell us, hypothetically, if your brand were an animal, what animal would it be? And B, how about if it were a city, what city would it be?
Animal: Injury would be the mythical creature, a Phoenix. The Phoenix symbolises transformation, rebirth, freedom, and mystery, much like our ethos. The Phoenix embodies the idea of rising from the ashes, constantly evolving and reinventing itself.
City: Injury would be like Eternia from Masters of the Universe. While it may be more than a city, Eternia is a realm where ethereal fantasy elements coexist with advanced technology. This diverse world is full of unique characters and varied landscapes, constantly facing and overcoming challenges. This mirrors the concept of resilience, where strength and adaptability allow one to navigate and thrive amidst adversity. We love everything about Eternia to represent our brand, except the monarchy part — seriously, who needs to deal with royal drama when you can have epic adventures instead?
At risk of stating the obvious, Injury is so much more than a fashion brand. The concept you guys are working on extends into CGI film, music, and more. Fashion is just one of many layers. Does it feel strange to be known first and foremost as a fashion brand, when fashion is just one facet of a multidisciplinary project?
Fashion is a playground where multiple mediums converge. It seamlessly integrates with culture, music, art, film, technologies, lifestyle, ideologies, politics, and even religion. It’s a space where our imaginations co-exist and manifest. That's why we started Injury — to bring our visions to life. Arts and technologies exhibit a mutual influence, each shaping the development of the other. In all mediums or media, there's always a fashionable aspect attached to it. Music trends, movie genres, and CG technologies constantly evolve, influencing art and fashion. These movements and evolutions give us lots of inspirations, and the fashion line is our platform to explore and express all these notions.
Expanding on that, neither of you were trained in fashion specifically. Do you imagine that this original lack of focus in fashion allowed you greater creative freedom and range when you initially developed your brand, since, I imagine, you were less preoccupied with traditional ideas and rules about fashion and what it means to create clothing?
Absolutely. Fashion is a risk, much like rock music; you never know the outcome and reaction until it is presented. Even if I did go through a formal fashion education, I'd probably unlearn a lot to stay creative and fun in a different approach. If I did go through proper fashion design training, I might be doing something else entirely to begin the creative journey. The process of overcoming obstacles and challenges through our self-taught journey keeps us in an unexpected and experimental mode, allowing for genuine creativity. We learn to create things in unique ways with individuality, I believe.
Design for Injury is a collaborative effort between you two — Eugene Leung and Dan Tse. Reflecting on the experience of a cooperative approach, what would you say are the most notable features of working as part of a pair?
It's like organised chaos. We bring different ideas together, creating a synergy that fuels our work. I cannot imagine working without one another. The two of us have many common interests but also very different skill sets. Eugene creates original music tracks for all our shows and films, and the brand is always related to film and music because of him. Meanwhile, Dan brings in a lot of ethereal and genderless styling. The most notable feature will probably be the very diverse disciplinary outcome and aesthetically harmonised like Yin and Yang.
Watching the show for your most recent collection, 55555, I was immediately struck by the stylised faces and bodies of your models. We see hair standing up in sharp spikes — sometimes covering the entire head, one time just two larger spears which bear an eerie resemblance to horns. At least one model has two different eyes — one with an enlarged black iris, and another clouded over so as to leave only a faint trace of blue. Another’s are clouded over completely, revealing a chilling sea of uninterrupted white. Facial piercings are not off limits, nor are ten-centimetres claw-like nails. Black lipstick and white eyeshadow must have been purchased in bulk. Can you tell us about this? What made you decide not just to adorn the body in clothes, but to actually alter the body itself?
When we approach our collection, clothing seems to always be the last medium we create. We always start with world-building, composing a universe where all mediums emerge under a central concept, theme, and aesthetics. We love to imagine and create characters with specific personalities, spirits, lifestyles, and goals in their lives. All these become our guidelines when we approach all the details for every piece and the show. The collection, 55555, is all about transformation and stepping out of comfort zones. Our brand DNA encourages individuals to be daring, courageous, and be something new, for better or worse. We wanted to create characters that embody this notion of evolving through adversity. Styling beyond clothing was crucial to convey this transformation. We communicated these messages to our hair directors, Dee Parker Attwood and Jason Fassbender, and our makeup director, Susan Lilian, who brought this concept and vision to life. Also, the cast plays a very important role in understanding who they are representing in the show. We even created custom tattoos from our original graphics to put on our models.
On the topic of adornment and bodily accoutrements — I was completely mesmerised by the accessories. Can you say a little bit about the focus on non-clothing accessories in this show?
The accessories are inseparable from our clothing collection. Many accessories came from our virtual dimension, created in collaboration with Real Parent. Iconic items like the Heart bag and Orb bag were 3D-printed from 3D models we developed. Our Injury shoe line, including the Eth boots, Fire boots, and I-boots, complemented the clothing. We also collaborated with Ophiuchus, a Sydney-based brand, to hand-craft organic and chrome-looking jewellery inspired by our 3D creations.
There is an obvious association between  and the gothic aesthetic. Particularly in the 55555 show, the colour black — with sporadic silver and red complements — reigns. The gothic aesthetic is only more recently associated with the high-tech world equally embraced by Injury. Have you thought a lot about this apparent contradiction? How do you feel about the label of goth being assigned to 55555, and do you use it yourselves? Might there be an underlying message about the surprising compatibility between the gothic aesthetic and high-tech?
It’s a very personal taste of merging the two together. From the start, we've been drawn to darker aesthetics and underground vibes, and we are always fascinated by the fantasy and ethereal side of futurism. While we favour black, red, and silver for their straightforward appeal, we believe high-tech can complement any colour palette. Cyberpunk, which heavily influences us, marries technology with darkness, as does electronic that we loved a lot, e.g. techno music, dark synth-wave music, industrial techno and ambient music, these music genre involves lots of tech aesthetic as well. When darkness and light merge, it gives us this immersive experience that we always crave, and I think that kind of atmosphere always results from our creation naturally. We believe whether it's goth or the dark colour palette, it will always exist as an art form. It's fresh and forever young no matter how the world we live in is conquered by technologies.
Eugene, I read an interview you did in which you discuss the idea of a group, a collective, and say that you were inspired by the idea of intriguing casts of characters, and ultimately wanted to create your own. Watching  shows, it looks like you’ve done just this. Can you talk a little bit about the idea of a collective, why you were so drawn to the concept, and how you’ve kept the notion in mind through the development of the brand?
I've always been inspired by groups of unique characters with their own superpowers, like in Masters of the Universe or The Justice League Dark. This belief that everyone has something unique to offer drives our collaborative approach. When I first started the brand, I always imagined the team would be like a motorcycle vampire gang from the 80s film The Lost Boys and we would have our flag on the motorbike [saying] Injury. Also, I am an extrovert and so is Dan; naturally, we feel more empowered by working collaboratively. From day one, Injury has been about collective power and cross-disciplinary creativity. Keeping an open mind and appreciating others' work is key to maintaining this notion. To me, creating the Injury universe and each collection is very similar to making a film and composing a music soundtrack album for a film.
This may be a simple question, but I think it’s a pretty important one: what is your favourite look from the most recent show? How about your top individual pieces?
My favourite look is the tight-fit black racer jacket and trousers with biker boots, worn by Angus. It embodies freedom and the thrill of a motorcycle ride. It’s a cross-section of a complex, functional design of a racer outfit with very sleek and minimalistic styling. For individual pieces, the Heart Necklace, a collaboration with Ophiuchus, stands out. The heart symbolises the human heart; it is central to our work, especially in our virtual universe with Real Parent. I also really like the outfit worn by singer May-a, featuring May-a’s graphic art with the slogan “Won’t be Silenced.” The meaning of this slogan aligns 100% with our ethos.
A theme we keep coming back to is the uniqueness of your stuff is striking. What do you intend for the reaction of the masses to be? Do you mean for your pieces to be shocking themselves, or just their manifestation in your shows?
Injury is a universe that we love to live in. We just want to write a story that we want to live in. All the pieces we create are clothing pieces that we dream to have but don’t exist in the world. That’s also the main drive for us to create and develop the collection. We make the music we want to listen to and the short films we love to watch, and we’re sure there are crowds out there who complement the same taste and are searching for the same atmosphere we are creating. There's no single intended reaction. Our shows are multimedia experiences, each element resonating differently with people. I’m sure some people will appreciate the music the most, while others focus on the clothing. Some people may complement the 3D art, etc. We aim to create memorable and interesting moments, whether they last a split second or much longer. From every detail, from music to clothing to the slogans and messages we present, we just love to present who we are and what we are thinking and feeling at the current state of mind of the brand.
I am curious about how you strike a balance between staying true to the vision you so clearly have for your brand and the reality of fashion under capitalism, where in order to make a profit, clothes need to be appealing to wide audiences. How do you conceptualise breadth? Do you strive to appeal to a (relatively) great number of people, or have you settled into the idea of creating wearable art that might only be purchased by a fashion-forward subset?
I do not think there’s a guaranteed formula to appeal to the masses. I’d rather create work that manifests our vision authentically, believing we’re not alone in our tastes. We’re fine with slow growth if it means walking this journey with like-minded individuals. A lot of times when people create design or art to cater to the tastes of the masses to achieve monetary goals, it may not be the most effective way. In fact, in reality, what is happening in the commercial side of the fashion industry is more of a marketing effort to meet and create demand, with scarcity keeping people paying more. That may or may not have strong relationships or connections with the actual creations.
Injury clearly takes an interest in sustainability. You have a collection of knitwear made from KnitWarm and Axoflux, a fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. You’ve worked with smaller Australian brands, like Etienne and Calli Comical, that focus on sustainability in their creation of upcycled pieces. Where might you take your sustainable aspirations next? Any future sustainability-focused collaborations in mind yet?
We’re committed to elevating our upcycling line as part of the permanent collection and continually exploring new sustainable technologies. Digital fashion has been a game-changer for our creative process since 2020; we managed to cut down sampling wastage by 80%. We’re always on the lookout for sustainable fabrics and resources. We are particularly interested in the marriage between art, storytelling, tech and sustainability. That is the criterion we are constantly looking at for future collaborations.
More and more avant-garde fashion brands like yours are starting to create androgynous collections. Whereas many pieces appear quite androgynous, you divide them into men’s and women’s as of now. I would be curious for any insight into how you think about the relationship between gender and the pieces you’re building.
When we design, we focus on the unique personality and lifestyle of our characters, emphasising individuality over gender. For the 55555 collection, our characters embody courage and resilience, reflecting our motto: Love will Tear Hate Apart. The concepts we aim to create, the soul and spirit we seek to empower, and the message we want to express are inherently genderless.
We don't design for a specific gender or ideal body shape; instead, we love creating pieces that merge with any individual to highlight their unique qualities.