MEET THE DESIGNERS BEHIND EX CITIZN - THE RISING CHINESE BRAND, SYNONYMOUS WITH FUTURISM, MINIMALISM, AND QUALITY
Last week the YUGEN team met up with Joy and Yinuo, the masterminds behind EX CITIZN. The young designers sat down with us to share their journey of designing during lockdown, separated in two different continents, as well as the inspiration and vision behind the brand. EX CITIZN only launched a month ago and is already breaking time boundaries and gaining popularity in its two home countries: UK and China. Joy and Yinuo share all the details in a genuine inerview below:
YUGEN: What is your personal background?
Joy: I was born in Chongqing, China. And lived there till I was 16, then I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where I studied and lived for a year before I came to London for my BA course at London College of Fashion. I just recently graduated from MA Menswear at University of Westminster.
Yinuo: I was born and raised in Beijing, China, then moved to London to study in London College of Fashion. During my study in the fashion media and communication course, I have developed my passion for digital fashion and 3D technology, then continued my practice after graduation.
YUGEN: How did you start EX CITIZN?
Joy: Yinuo and I have been friends since we both went to LCF. She’s helped me with several uni projects and I always wanted to do something with her. Obviously, COVID-19 happened last year, and I was studying online after the burst of the pandemic. I started learning digital pattern cutting it myself, while she developed her 3D rendering skills. And she came to me and asked if we should do a brand together based and I said YES straight away haha.
Yinuo: While I developing my graduation project, and done a series of research on digital and sustainable fashion, I was obsessed with 3D garment simulation software, and shared my thoughts with Joy. Then a few days later she sent me back some looks she made using that software, and I was amazed. They are creations without any limits, breath-taking and you know they are going to blow up one day just by looking at them. We think they deserve not only to stay in the digital form, so we started to put in work and brought them to real life and eliminates the needs of traditional production processes. When our skills combined together and our same goal of bringing a more sustainable future to the fashion industry, our strong brand image has come out naturally. That was the start of EX CITIZN.
YUGEN: What does the name stand for?
Joy & Yinuo: Because our brand is highly inspired by future technology and digital fashion. So The name was inspired by the iconic movie ‘EX MACHINA’, and in that sense, EX CITIZN means we are creating a new planet and safe virtual space for young generations where everyone can feel confident about their own diversity. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, once you join us you can become an EX CITIZN.
YUGEN: What is the essence of the brand in a few words?
Joy & Yinuo: Futurism, minimalism and quality.
YUGEN: What was the concept and inspiration behind your collection?
Joy & Yinuo: For EX CITIZN SS21 「后·纪元」unisex collection, we wanted it to be a grand entry to the world for us that accurately presents our brand aesthetics. Besides the consistent futuristic and minimalist theme. The print designs for this particular collection were inspired by the smoke that comes from ice rock in a glass of whiskey. And the unique blue is a perfect icey shade chosen after several tryouts. EX CITIZN SS2021 collection 「NEXT ERA」leads you to land on the EX PLANET we created and begin to explore the brand new 3D digital lifestyle as an EX CITIZN, bringing you a connection between the future and past with the new fashion experience.
YUGEN: What does your creative process look like? Do you have any particular routines that help your creative flows/processes?
Joy: We would share all sorts of moodboard with each other on a daily basis, just things that we find inspiring in everyday life. And normally the design process starts from creating digital garments from zero in the 3D software, and we change design details, colours and prints to get to the final result that we are happy with.
Yinuo: During the whole preparation of EX CITIZN, Joy was in London and I was in Shanghai, we haven’t seen each other since the pandemic. To be honest, It wasn’t easy for both of us, but our creative process has never stopped. And there were also benefits that we based in different cities, Joy is in London where has the most Avant-garde fashion trend that she often shares with me and influenced our creative process, and I am in Shanghai, to find the best fabric supplier and factory to ensure the best quality of our products.
YUGEN: Sustainability in fashion is a very important topic and nowadays goes hand in hand with the storytelling and creativity behind the brand. Which steps are you taking towards sustainability and how do you make sure you reduce environmental impact?
Joy & Yinuo: Under this global pandemic, we have been thinking about how the world will change when all this returns to normal. Maybe the things we valued before have become less important. What we have overlooked in the past may be more important than ever, such as the health of the planet and our attitude towards clothing. In the past year, everything became more electronic than ever. Therefore, in the preparation time of the past year, EX CITIZN has truly achieved the sustainable development of fashion from the initial design to the final production, using computer 3D patterning and digital sample preparation throughout the process. In that way, we are eliminating the waste of the pattern-making paper and the fabric for sampling. We brought all 3D virtual garments from the computer to real life with precision.
YUGEN: Who do you design for? Who is your customer?
Joy & Yinuo: We design for everyone, whoever is into digital fashion, sustainability and quality.
YUGEN: What do you want people to take away from this collection?
Joy & Yinuo: I want people to notice and recognise us from this first drop since we are still very new in the game. I want this to show people that we do have an eye for what’s next and at the same time we care a lot about details and quality, and I think that’s not something a young brand like us would normally have at this stage.