Clothing designer Wang Yiyang has become one of China’s most celebrated designers thanks to the beautiful pieces he creates from two unlikely sources of inspiration: his native country’s cultural traditions and its digitally driven youth. Wang’s clothing line, Zuczug, not only helps him distinguish himself as a talented artist, but also as an intuitive businessman.
In a luxury landscape where trendsetters are tiring of the usual Western brands, Chinese designers are becoming a source of exclusivity and personal identity for the country’s fashionistas. Designers such as Uma Wang, Christine Lau, and Wang Yiyang are getting their opportunity to break through.
The Zuczug line carries everything from $315-dollar camel-wool jumper dresses to $270 kelly green athletic pants, designed with zipper pockets and a hole for earphone chords to accommodate iPods. His collection “Vegetable Market” features sweaters with hanging ducks and cabbage designs woven into them. “They’re designed to be comfortable, for everyday life,” Mr. Wang said, meaning for women who work, catch the bus and swap photos online with friends. “I’m not designing for a party or a runway event. This is just for an average day,” Wang said.
Beginning with an initial investment of $80,000, Wang has amassed 73 Zuczug stores and continues to grow his business through a series of smart, future-focused decisions. Wang has said he designs clothing for “the screen age” – choosing bright colors and bold designs that will be visually appealing when viewed on social media sites and cell phone screens. Wang plans to give his brand a global presence, although he has no specific timetable in mind. He is particularly interested in growing Zugzug throughout Asia.
“Everyone wants to create a brand now, but think back 10 years ago, and Wang Yiyang was the only one attempting to do this,” the director of the Modern Media company, Yeh Shaway, said. But Wang is nothing if not generous with his success and advice. He has taught classes at local universities and offers strong mentorship to the ten designers who collaborate to put together the Zuczug collections, which usually include about 300 pieces.
“Your own happiness cannot compare to the happiness of the collective group,” Wang said. He uses that philosophy to guide Zuczug. Even though many Chinese shoppers are still unfamiliar with the brand, the designer remains optimistic. “There is a distinct birth of creativity in this country,” he said. “Some people just don’t know about it yet.”
Some of Wang’s stiffest competition is expected to come from local fashion rival JNBY.
photo credit: zuczug