The new fashion up-and-comer combines Beauty and the Beast-esque glimpses on construction with recycled embelishments. Emboldening wearers to love themselves before saving the world in her work - as she states during our interview, Yinglin He, born in Guandong, China and now New York based, is more than ready to take the fashion industry by storm. Not long ago she was a New York Fashion Week debutante. Now we admire her work and discuss what to expect from her moving forward.
Before we dive into brand-related questions, you’ve said that fashion wasn’t something you thought of during your childhood in Guangdong, China, until you went to college. Could you talk a bit more about this journey?
I’ve always had a strong passion for art but, coming from a small town in southern China where fashion design wasn't remotely something I thought I could be doing, I had no idea how to use my strength. Until I went to college where I started to discover so many amazing designers online, I started to study their work and slowly do my own.
Having just launched your eponymous brand, the pattern of your garments stand out for their originality. They remind me of mythical creatures and monsters but in an elegant and sophisticated way. Where does the idea of these confections come from?
That’s almost exactly what I want my work to give off, a contradictory yet powerful feeling. The idea for this collection honestly comes from my journey of self-discovery and finding my place in time and space. Creating for me is like therapy. As a new adult who’s just learning my way through life, I used to be such an insecure person whether it was about the way I look, my background or even my work, and it was driving me crazy. Later on, one of the most important people in my life, who is my boyfriend, inspired me to transform those negative thoughts into inspiration for my work. I focus a lot on talking about the importance of being true to ourselves before we want to save the world in my work. I hope to convey messages like this to inspire more people to love themselves and love the world.
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Moreover, the silhouettes of your first collection make me think about our organs and bones, almost as if they were exoskeletons or shields. Is there something that inspired that?
That’s interesting! My first collection was a three-piece mini collection I created during my bachelor years. I knew I wanted to do something experimental for the silhouettes, so I started out by using epoxy resin where you heat up the resin, then shape them into freehand shapes. It can be reshaped multiple times once heated back up, which allowed me to not only create unexpected shapes but also in a very low cost and sustainable way. Because of how fast the resin cools down, I had to force myself to use a lot of my instinct which came out as one of the best parts, that’s probably where the exoskeletons or shield like shapes came from.
For the latest New York Fashion Week 2021, which you debuted with your Spring / Summer 2022 collection, you showcased reused materials from past confections, resulting in an overall floral motif. What led you to use recycled materials on this project?
When I started the collection, the main reason was that I had a very limited budget. Plus, there were so many leftover fabrics I had laying around from previous projects. I’ve always wanted to do something with them so there was no better chance than that collection.
Speaking of which, what is the collection inspired by?
That collection is also very much in line with the main focus in my work with is my own journey of self-discovery. I used to struggle a lot with being confident enough to speak up, but I still want to make a positive impact on the lives around me and hopefully further [afield too]. I never knew how to do that until I realised I had to start learning enough about myself, to be true to myself and that’s how the collection began. Through that collection, I want people who see my work to feel the same, to learn about themselves, to truly love themselves. Love is the answer.
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This year’s NYFW main theme was Redefining the Future of Fashion and Blockchain, how did you work within this idea, and what was your approach to it?
I worked with ap0cene and Legitimate Tech at this year NYFW, who had been amazing in helping me understand and learn about Blockchain and what the future of fashion in Blockchain will be. It was my first time getting to know the idea. They helped me create a digital label of each garment and we also showcased a couple of digital versions of my accessories at the event. In the future, I hope to collaborate with even more talented digital artists to create 3D forms of my garments for everyone to virtually try on and make high fashion more accessible for everyone.
You’ve said before that you envision fashion as something that speaks about you. Could you expand on it? What is fashion for you?
I find that I am the most confident when I am fully my authentic self which has not been easy for me to do and I believe for a lot of people too. The thing is that I want my work to speak about me is not the end goal, it is simply what I know the best, it is part of the inspiration.
I never want my work to be full of me. Instead, if anything people who see my work can take away is that they will realise loving themselves and loving others will save the world.
In order to achieve the final look of your garments, there has to be an intricate craftsmanship in the process. What is the creating process like?
One of the most important things during my creating process is planning. Planning has not only helped me be more efficient but has also been very helpful when it comes to limiting waste in terms of time as well as materials. The creating process could be very challenging at times mentally and physically because of how much trial and error I had to go through to get one satisfactory result, but those times were also when I found myself learning and growing the most.
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Earlier in the interview, we talked about how you’ve worked with reused materials. Is sustainability a part of your brand itself?
Absolutely. There’s no such thing as ultimate sustainability unless we stop producing anything which is not realistic. In my opinion, sustainability shouldn’t be an intimidating thing for designers especially smaller designers to do. Start small and start smart is the way for smaller creators to go. I envision myself learning and utilising related technologies to be more efficient and sustainable when creating in the future.
As a designer who keeps growing and growing year after year, what do you think the future holds for you?
This has been such an exciting journey to be on and I can’t wait to work on more interesting ideas, work together with other talented artists to keep bringing new life to the fashion industry.
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