When we last spoke to Linda Hao, she was in the midst of preparing for a trip to Tibet, aka the source of inspiration for her brand Yesah‘s first-ever Autumn Winter ’15 collection (as seen in the arresting images here). But along with the launch came news that she is shuttering her three-year-old label.
We caught up with the Singapore-based Chinese designer to find out what led to this difficult decision, the key looks in her latest collection, and what new creative ideas she’ll be brewing:
What are the materials you used in your first A/W ’15 collection and where were they sourced from?
“Faux fur, thin knit, soft suede, neoprene, quilt and satin. The materials are mostly sourced from China and made there – one of the signature skirt designs is actually sourced from Tibet – and this is the first time I’ve produced up to 50 pieces per style (prices range from $109-$389).”
The pieces in this collection look distinctly different from your signature loud and quirky designs. What sparked the change, and are you appealing to a new type of customer now?
“When I design (clothes) I don’t think of why and who it’s for, but what I want to tell. As it’s my first heavy-wear collection, the first thing that came to mind was comfort and a soft, fuzzy warm feeling, and I just had a vision of a tribal and ethnic scene (in my head). Another reason (for the theme behind the collection) is because it has always been my dream to visit a sacred place like Tibet, so I thought of combining my personal liking and my work to create a collection that I feel close to. There are pieces that have the words “Tibet Dreaming” embroidered on it and I’m still the one who designed them, so I don’t think my customers will feel that this collection has a very different vibe. I’m confident of bringing this new (approach) to customers who already like my aesthetics. Isn’t that what trend setting is all about? I feel like that’s what my job should be, to create something and sharing that vision with others.”
What are the key looks in the collection?
“A tangerine-coloured bomber jacket with balloon sleeves – the colour and shape is inspired by the (outlandish) hats worn by Tibetans; a high-slit embroidered skirt, because I bought the (brocade) fabric from Tibet and I think it’s quite special; and a winter bathrobe, which is super adorable and comfortable.”
What prompted the move to close Yesah?
“After working on the business for three years, I’ve come to realise that I don’t find this job meaningful. So I decided to set myself free and find something more fulfilling, has greater value and a longer lifespan. I actually made the decision (to close Yesah) after I came back from my Tibet trip. It was a very sensational and spiritual trip for me and ever since I returned to Singapore, I knew that there was something I had to do in order to achieve greater happiness in life.”
What were some of the most memorable moments and/or lessons you had while running your own brand?
“I learnt that what you’re good at might not be what you like (to do), and what you like might not be what you’re good at. This is the ultimate lesson I’ve learnt and am still learning to understand.”
What new and exciting ventures can we expect from you post-Yesah?
“There is something really exciting I wish I could share, but things are not confirmed yet… I might move to another country close to Singapore and work in a non-fashion related industry. But I’ll still be here taking on freelance DJ gigs and (running) social media projects.” Available now at Mporium (#01-477 Suntec City), Superspace (#02-18 orchardgateway), Actually (#03-18 orchardgateway) and Yesah.net