What else could I possibly use as a title, I ask you! A tantalizing Tuesday Fashion Tasty for all you darlings out there.
AbsoluteLi is the name and the corniness of my words knows no boundaries indeed. The British TV show is a classic and this newly hatched lifestyle brand hopes to become one too someday. Let’s hope customers will gain as much joy from their seasonal collections as viewers did from Patsy and Eddie’s weekly antics. Besides, inside every person there is a fashion addict waiting to come out. Perhaps more than one even.
Remember, “LaCroix, sweetie, LaCroix.” Though I prefer to mix things up in a slightly cheaper, more matchy-matchy way without too many crucifixes, I here give you a taste — for those unfamiliar with the AbFab lingo, their DVD boxes are sold in the four corners of this champagne-swigging globe — of my Q&A with the brand’s leading ladies: mad artist QQ and business realist Michelle.
Champas or BolliStolli?
In the cut-throat industry that is fashion, the traditional classic champagne — one designer and his creations — simply won’t cut the pattern. You need BolliStolli; a blend of champagne and vodka that covers all taste buds. These two aspirational, and thus in my eyes all the more inspirational, entrepreneurs possess that one major advantage Eddie and Patsy did not: a complementary combination. The artist needs the realist to bring them back to Earth whenever they have been drinking the KoolAid; the realist needs someone to help them look beyond the horizon of basic jeans to expand their views both personally and professionally. Together, sweetie Michelle (a marketing and PR major) and darling design-graduate QQ’s team efforts have led to the creation of their lifestyle brand, AbsoluteLi.
Fashion in itself is a lifestyle. Look at the hyper-flaunters who attend any given Fashion Week; willing to admit it or not, it takes many of them weeks of prepping before they pull off the preppy look. Far from uptight, AbsoluteLi describes itself as an “easy luxury” brand, starting out from the closet but aiming to get its fingers in the accessory, furniture and all other things lifestyle pie. The brand is another made in China original, where Asia-originated creativity meets globe-orientated reality — of fabulous quality to boot. The two ladies are in no rush to attain world fame and opt to pass through a process that first slowly introduces their brand to China and hence gradually unfolds — like a lotus flower. Zen, darling, Zen.
PR things in the 2010s
“PR, I PR things darling” (quote Eddie in 1993). The past two decades have seen spectacular changes in the way we conduct our social lives and the explosive part the Internet has in them (I mean, your relationship isn’t official nowadays unless you tell the world by updating your Facebook status, right? Ahem). Being the business brain that at times has to reel in the artist; Michelle knows like no other how hard it is nowadays to get your brand a spot in the traditional media light. New media offers more speed, more opportunities for more swift and regular updates, and a more global audience at a much lower cost; versus the expenses the traditional media entail — though the latter’s wisdom built up over decades of experience surpasses that of Saffy even I must add. How to PR things then Michelle style?
A little mosey down Weibo (China’s custom-made Twitter), a little sniff around Weixin (a mobile Facebookapp) and sidle up to Taobao (China’s largest online shopping site). This is how AbsoluteLi presents its collections to the nation. Technological innovation, which the overall fashion industry has embraced with bell-bottom-open arms — methinks Photoshop, has given society the capability to broadcast information at the speed of one year’s collections. Whether I think it’s necessary to report on every single person’s outfit – instantly dubbed “fabu,” but often enough “fapoo” — I’ll leave aside for now, but there is no denying that the ability to create online niche communities or the omnipresence of user-generated blogger and vlogger content, has given brands valuable tools to present their image to the globe.
AbsoluteLi chooses to promote their designs as timeless yet affordable pieces. Any brand starting out will experience the customary glitch and so it does not want to overcharge customers. The items are of sound quality and show a keen eye for sober detailing, down to the stitching on a casual white T-shirt. The Taobao shop is a powerful thing, especially when you also offer your bargain browsers other designer or vintage items, Michelle also pointed out. From thereon(line) it is hopefully onward to the next challenge, referring to opening up real-life shops in both Beijing and Shanghai. It’s the China Dream. Then again…One world, one dream, right?
Treehuggers vs Hiphuggers
Saffy’s knitted granny sweaters — bare one shoulder and slap on some tight waist — or hiphugging jeans, whichever one you can pull off or (unfortunately unlike Eddie) pull up, and you’re set for this autumn’s runway — can surely count as a supporter of the eco trend, yet perhaps not the style aspect of it. In the words of QQ and Michelle, “Isn’t vintage or timeless design also a form of preserving the environment and all that comes with it?” I still wonder why no one else has brought this up before, it boggles the mind. The ladies continued to point out the up- and downsides to green-design from their perspectives.
“You leave out leather and you severely limit your collection’s range — unless you find a suitable alternative for it. Hats off to Stella [McCartney],” said QQ. On the upside then, “Yet green fashion encourages designers to find and/ or produce new materials; it sets creativity going in that way,” Michelle retorted.
Neither have one particular style era that they favor, but tend to see centuries of history as an inspiration; it’s a matter of picking and choosing your favorites over the course of time. In terms of China’s very own “vintage feel, ”AbsoluteLi’s creations not so much see the integration of traditional Chinese touches as do they that of Asian ones, for example Korean silks (it seems silk can be divided into different categories according to the way the threads are twisted when spun — thank you Google). Traditional Chinese garments are made of specific materials that require meticulous knitting skills (for example the南京云锦，Nanjing yunjing) which very few people still possess. QQ, on the other hand, employs modern techniques and thus prefers to adhere to the age-old “cobbler, stick to thy last.” Wise move. Michelle in turn keeps track of new trends and designers, and flips through the magazines from a customer perspective. And when the artist goes overboard on the garment, the realist — unlike Patsy — will be right there to call her out on it. No LaCroix extravaganza for these two; it’s all teamwork darling.
A little QQ and Michelle shout-out:
Doing your own thing is AbsoluteLi beautiful.