In this issue of ASIAN VOICE, we feature JUNLI, a brand that takes its inspirations from various movies and subculture. Incorporating its influences and combining originality into its designs, JUNLI is constantly fearless with its decisions and chooses to move forward. In this issues, we we dig into the root of the brand and where to find inspirations in daily life.
Nana : Can you give our readers an introduction to the brand, JUNLI?
JUNLI : In terms of design language, JUNLI has always adhered to what I called The Restrained Aesthetic, an understanding in East Asia stands for appropriate blank-leaving in the design and ultimately aspires to a precise expression in restricted space. JUNLI wants to bring back the fundamental idea of garment making. And craftsmanship and fabrics are the souls of design. My vision is to translate conceptual ideas into practical details and produce well-made garments for the people who love art and fashion.
Nana : Why did you decide to name it “JUNLI”?
JUNLI : Probably influenced by the eponymous designers in the 90s, I registered with my name without any hesitation. Honestly, I regret it a bit now. It is too stressful with your name in front of the work.
Nana : What has influenced the creation of the brand and the pieces designed for your brand?
JUNLI : The crack slit design and metal label under the back of the neckline are all inspired by the work of Lucio Fontana. Apart from the artwork, the film has always strongly influenced me. When I was younger, along with being a fashion designer, I was also considering a career in acting or directing, so I
spent most of my teenage time watching various types of movies, such as the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, David Lynch and my favorite anime director Kon Satoshi. The cinematic is unconsciously permeated into my design system.
Nana : What are some of the challenges you have faced during the course of building your brand?
JUNLI : I started everything alone in London in 2014, the difficulty at the beginning was that being a Chinese designer in Europe was often questioned, and it took me a long time to establish relationships with those Italian fabric companies and our clients. It was not that easy until SS17, invited by the president of CNMI, Carlo Capasa, to attend Milan Menswear Fashion Week. Not for long, I moved back to Shanghai and set up our head office there. Then came the COVID-19 which interrupted our Paris showroom business and forced me to make a change to focus on the local market. Since the multi-brand store in China was still in its infancy, only a few menswear stores sell our products, so I expanded the menswear line into a combined collection with both menswear and womenswear. When everything started to go back on track until March of this year, Shanghai suddenly experienced a lockdown for more than two months, which was a destructive challenge for us.
Nana : How do you come up with the themes for each season?
JUNLI : For the past few seasons, I all went with a film-related theme, either the story itself or the subculture behind it that inspired me. I learned a logical way to develop a collection in LCF, though sometimes I still prefer to choose a theme more emotionally. Maybe there is a sensitiveness in my oriental consciousness. I have always felt that spirituality plays a big part in the design process, invisible energy surrounding you when you are highly focused, just as an actor on stage can only move the audience if he has completely devoted himself to the performance. So, to start with something that touches me is essential.
Nana : Is it possible to let readers know a little about your next collection?
JUNLI : The inspiration for the SS23 collection is still a movie, “The Place Beyond the Pines”. It is not a usual choice; it was the favorite of a good friend who passed away recently. The film inspired him a lot in the way he dresses. I believe the character and the elements of grunge and punk somehow gave him a sense of self-identity. Watching the film again repeatedly these days, I hope that I can commemorate our friendship through what we are both passionate about.
Nana : Is there a particular artist, movie, place, book that you would recommend our
readers to check for inspiration?
That should be “Twin Peaks” directed by David Lynch, which is the inspiration for both the SS22 and AW22 collections. I also wrote the script and the storyboard for the fashion film of the collection and directed it by myself. Last month during the lockdown, I shared a movie list with 100 selections, if anyone is interested could check the list on my Weibo. “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk is a book I finished recently, also highly recommended.
Nana : Do you have any advice for our readers who are seeking to find a way to build a brand like “JUNLI”?
JUNLI : JUNLI is still a work-in-progress, still a long way to go, and so am I. The only experience I would share is to be determined and patient if you wish to build a style that is not on trend now. So do not be afraid of not being accepted, focus on your inner power to blossom your idea, find what’s deep down there in your heart, and believe in it, even a simple design has its unique temperament to move others.
My vision is to translate conceptual ideas and practical details and produce well-made garments for the people who love art and fashion.junli