Organizing an annual design competition allows us here at Télio to come in contact with fresh faced students before they begin their careers. We see their talent, their determination and their drive but we have no way of knowing what will come next for them. It’s always fun to catch up with previous finalists and see what they’re up to, we’re almost always pleasantly surprised!
We caught up with 2013 finalist Ning Hao last week and it turns out she started her own clothing brand called 8090 Apparel with her friend Alanah Jones (both from the University of The Fraser Valley). Together they’re creating clothes for the modern independent woman and their stuff is the cutest! Check out their website.
Here’s our exclusive interview with the talented duo:
Do you remember the exact moment when you fell in love with fashion? Or the moment you knew that you would make a career out of it?
We actually both fell in love with fashion while working with Textiles. Ning would sneak out of math class to work on her loom in a Weaving course offered at our University and Alanah fell in love with silk-screening when she was at a Textile Arts College.
Our “fashion career moment” was more so a conclusion: why work so passionately to build someone else’s name/brand when we had the skills to make our own? It was really a “why not” type of moment.
Where do you mostly get your inspiration from?
We try not to think too hard about this. If we had to narrow it down we would say art, food, and culture.
Any Films, Albums or Books that you keep going back to as a source of inspiration?
For 8090 we keep an eye on the streets. Global street style is really amazing to look at; we could spend hours searching online or just people watching in the city. We love to travel and snap photos of style setters- we are huge fans of power and print clashing.
Do you have a celebrity fashion muse? If so, who, why and what would you love to see him/her in?
Our classic celebrity muse is always Sarah Jessica Parker in any season of SATC, or to be more specific her stylist Patricia Fields. But our not-so-typical muse would be the Canadian actress Sophie Desmarais. We have her Globe & Mail interview pinned up in our studio and love everything about her. I think she would look amazing in our Helda Motto Zip Jacket + Cynthia Power Legging from our SS15 URBAN REVIVAL COLLECTION.
How important do you think social media is to fashion in 2015?
So important! Social Media is free, accessible, and full of credible information & inspiration. Our favorite part is that you can make your own trends! All you need is a little time and ingenuity.
How would you define your personal style versus the style of your brand?
Our personal style is a definite starting point for the brand but we aim to create pieces that are an extension of that. We want to go beyond what is already in our wardrobe. Eightyninety is for the independent women who want to stand out in a crowd while staying true to herself.
Tell us a little bit about your customer, what do they look for, what do they like, why do they come back?
An 8090 girl is very independent; she is a leader not a follower. She strives to be different and blending in is her worst nightmare. She looks for easy to wear pieces that are multi-seasonal. She wants her clothes to be appropriate for day or night and to not break the bank. She keeps coming back because there is always something missing!
What’s the hardest thing about being a designer in 2015?
The actual investment of time and energy is the hardest thing about being a designer in 2015. You are emotionally attached to your brand and there never really is an “off ” switch once you launch. However, waking up and working for yourself? That is undeniably the coolest thing.
Where can we purchase your merchandise?
We are readily available online at 8090apparel. We have free shipping for Canadian orders $100+ and flat rates for international.
Your Spring/Summer 2015 collection is called Urban Rival, can you describe that for us a little bit.
The Spring/Summer 2015 Urban Revival collection is inspired by the rejuvenation of springtime florals in the city. Bright and bold custom printed fabrics fastened with gold-plated zippers designed for an edgy/floral vibe that you can wear to work and beyond.
What’s coming up for you this year? Any particular project we should be looking out for?
There is so much to look forward to but only a few things we can publicly announce! Our FW15 collection titled UMBRA is going to be released in a few months- it was inspired by the shape, shadow, and texture of the Japanese Edo period and is way more texture driven. A current project we are excited about is THE BUSINESS CASUAL PROJECT that launched earlier this month on 8090apparel. This is where select individuals from across the country are nominated by friends or family using social media and are entered for a chance to win a free wardrobe. Based on submissions, Eightyninety will select STYLE AMBASSADORS from across the country that will receive free pieces to style and represent their city. Check out our website for more details.
What are some current trends you’re obsessed with? Trends you feel should disappear immediately?
We try avoiding the obsessive factor but we love how casual/street wear has infiltrated the market. Why wear heels when sneakers look just as good? Trends that bother us are more so fashion stereotypes. The tall and skinny/body conscious trend and any/all cultural stereotypes bother us a lot.
What are your thoughts on fast fashion? Designer collaborations (a la H&M, Target)?
We love designer collaborations. Any way for a brand to be more accessible is positive for us.
If you could collaborate with a major commercial brand/fashion house, which would it be and why?
Ning: KENZO. They have authentically done what they wanted since day one!
Alanah: CYNTHIA ROWLEY. Her brand really defines a lifestyle that appeals to me.
One piece of advice for anyone thinking of going into fashion design?
If you have passion, go for it! Make fashion what you want it to be. Understand the rules but stay true to yourself.