CookiesWe use cookies to make it easier for you to browse our website. If you, as a user, visit our website, it is our understanding that you are granting your consent to the use of cookies. You may obtain more information on cookies and their use hereOK
No rules, no consequences. Aiming to recreate that feeling of tween bliss, Claudia Li gives us an insight into the making of Free Range Kids, a clothing line which draws its inspiration primarily from the uninhibited nature of being a child, free of worry. While exploring the vivid colourways and youthful silhouettes associated with the playfulness of the pre-adolescent years, Li’s Spring / Summer 2022 effort refuses to shy away from making loud and daring statements. Brilliant and bold, these choices no doubt encapsulate the experience of being a free-range tween.

Before we get into your new collection, would you tell us a little bit about your aesthetic influences and choices up until now? Some of your previous collections have been inspired by big events in your life, how did you go about expressing those emotions and memories via fashion?
Fashion has always been very important in my family. Growing up, my parents would dress up for art auctions and gallery visits for my father’s work. We weren’t wealthy, but my parents always dressed very well. I remember my mum telling me that she would save as much money as she could from work to buy fashion; it was something that made her happy rather than an obligation to dress up. I think that was when I really started to understand what the word Fashion meant. It was and still is something that makes me happy, something I have fun with and is never forced.
Growing up, I studied fine arts and eventually wanted to try something that felt less planned, something that I could have fun with. The first thing that came to mind was naturally fashion, so I went with it. My collections have always been very personal. I express myself through design like I used to with painting. Art has always played a big role in my life and has now become a part of my being.
My collections usually start with a single spark of feeling, it might be a word, an image, a sound, a random note that I wrote down. It’s always something that sparks a memory and causes an instant reaction. I then create mood boards, make prints, play with different colours and fabrics and silhouettes. The final collection comes together to echo that initial spark.
Having studied at top fashion schools in both London and New York, did the decision to found your own label in 2015 come naturally? Or was it something you didn’t expect to see yourself doing?
I think most of us (fashion designers) want to have our own labels at some point, especially coming out of design school.
How did you go about selecting the visual references to represent childhood and playfulness?
Anything that reminds me of my tween years, the idea of play. The starting point of this idea was “We were once all superheroes”. As adults, we tend to not have too much fun, even feel numb towards certain things, and most of us have lost the courage towards things that are supposed to be exciting and adventurous because of responsibilities, stress, life, etc. As a tween, I never really followed the rules, so somehow, I always got into trouble. I didn’t care at all about the consequences though, because everything was awesome and amusing: climbing trees, rolling down the hills on a skateboard...

Were the colours and shapes a choice based on universally recognised symbols, or a more specific experience?
The colours and shapes are reflections of those days where everything was an eye-opener when I was a Free-Range Kid: when opening Christmas presents was the most exciting thing ever, the cotton candy at a carnival was the most delicious thing ever and telling my friends stories about the elves living in my mum’s garden.
Some of the garments stand out as slightly more pulled back and minimalist, such as the Teepee Dress in White. What is it about these garments that elicited a slightly different approach?
I don’t think it was intentional. As a kid, the Teepee was a place where I hung out with friends and went on imaginary adventures in the backyard.
A particularly fun part of the collection is the range of accessories. The Flower Helmet Bag specifically is such a fun choice in its versatility. How did the idea for a hat that doubles as a handbag come about?
This was accidental in a way. We made a flower helmet but then I started putting the earrings and measuring tape in it during fittings and noticed that it doubled perfectly as a bag.

Having seen your clothes on the likes of Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Issa Rae and Michelle Obama, is there anyone you’d particularly like to clothe or work with next?
Lizzo! She’s just too cool!
Recently, you mentioned how the pandemic has changed the way that you think as a brand in regards to how, when and what you create. How has this changed the way that you work?
We’re in the process of changing our entire development and production structure for 2022. Stay tuned!
To wrap up, I wanted to ask you about your game plan moving forward. What have you learnt these past seven years about running a brand in this industry that you think is important to keep in mind?
Being a fashion designer with your own label is different to most other types of businesses. Some of us don’t just want to sell clothes; we’re also trying to connect with our audiences on an emotional level. We’re trying to tell our stories. The most challenging part of it all is putting ourselves out there, being emotionally naked even when the world is not always kind. Sometimes it gets hard to keep going, physically and mentally. After 6 years, I think determination is important, but knowing what drives that determination is crucial.

Luis Castro

ic_eye_openCreated with Sketch.See commentsClose comments
0 resultados