East London brand 1×1 Studio have become a must see on the London Fashion Week schedule over the last few seasons. They make beautifully crafted, handmade knitwear with a cutting edge 21stcentury twist. With a philosophy that celebrates the uniqueness of their customer and our planet, the brands creativity is underpinned by a dedication to a sustainable and ethical ethos.
Creative Director Yi-Ling Kuo was born in Taiwan, studied at the LCF and then interned with some of fashions biggest names before setting up her Whitechapel studio. This juxtaposition of Taiwan and Tower Hamlets was one that chimed with Sodium’s desire to explore the cultural rendezvous where east meets west, so I was delighted to speak with Yi-Ling, during what was a very different fashion week, to discuss her SS21 collection and all things 1×1.
1.Congratulations on your SS21 collection “Commitment”, which was stunning. I loved the hand-knitted knitwear, the translucent handcrafted jumper, the hand-knitted trousers, shirts, and vests. What was the inspiration behind the collection?
Thanks! The SS21 inspiration actually comes from my time with family, I started looking back to the pictures we took when being together. During pandemics, many people lose their life and family members, I remind myself and people cherished anytime with their family/friends/partner. I am much more me when I’m with you (Family), I realized that I used to spend most of time on work and travel, Now, I make a commitment to my family that something will be changed.
2. I read that the motivation behind the title “Commitment” is that sudden moment when one realises what truly matters. That could be a mantra for our times and I wondered what influence the pandemic had on the SS21 creative process?
Traveling is always the best inspiration for creative process, unfortunately, due to pandemic, we are not able to travel as much as before, as flexible as we plan, however, lost and gain are always together, lockdown make me staying at home to re-think about what is important in my life. I believe family is always one of the most important things in life, Pandemic is made to value even more.
3. Your AW20 collection, which I also loved, featured your signature knitwear but was also darker in tone with fetish vibes. Is the lighter tone of SS21 seasonally influenced or were there other factors that also took it in this direction?
In 2020, bad news is much more than good news. but I hope this collection will remind people of positive thinking, brighter signs. When next spring summer time comes in 2021, good things and our dream shall become true.
4. How do you want the person who wears 1×1 Studio to feel when they put on one of your creations?
Being yourself, appreciate who you are and enjoy what you are doing
5. Sustainability is at the core of everything you do and I know that you follow a zero-waste policy. Which re-used resources did you use to create this collection and what care do you take to ensure the integrity of your supply chains?
Before we make the clothing, we always start from knitting ourselves the textiles, we use reused resources such as recycled bottles, recycled paper and eco cotton fibers to create the fabric first. We keep searching and meet suppliers who only work together with the same sustainable principle with us.
6. I know that Sartre and his quote “Commitment is an act, not a word” was one of the references which influenced the creative process. That quote has never been more relevant than now when we are faced with the twin existential crisis of COVID-19 and climate change. Do you think that for a lot of the fashion industry sustainability remains a word and not an act?
I believe some people working in fashion as a sustainability field are trying their best to be sustainable, some of them even inspire me quite a lot. Even If some people don’t believe in working as sustainability but still do it due to the purpose of popularity, if they actually use the sustainable materials, it helps the world either way they believe or not. I know it is challenging from process to financial part, however, if we can always trade sustainability as an act, even just a bit of changes could have a very different impact to the earth we live in, not only us but future life of the next generation.
7. I loved your AW20 show at Fabric which evoked a total club night vibe. While you have embraced digital beautifully with SS21, do you think that post-pandemic there will still be a place for the traditional fashion show and the unique atmosphere a physical audience brings?
Yes, I think that is the point somehow people enjoy the most about a physical show, as long as the guest doesn’t worry about participating in the show and being connected without distancing, I think it will still be a place. This is all about the audience’s experience, traditional fashion shows bring the real temperature to the audience and the same back to brands, we love it but we also feel excited to do some changes in the future.
Huge thanks to Yi-Ling for taking the time out during London Fashion Week to provide such a fascinating insight into the 1×1 Studio philosophy and creative process. Thanks also to Adam at 1×1 for arranging our interview.