LOU SCHOOF – SPRING IN XIAMEN
Reserved, sentimental, and deeply introspective Ms.Min designer Min Liu draws her inspiration from both her own personal past, as well as China’s, for her spring 2017 collection. Imagista turned to Min’s husband and business partner, Ian Hylton to find out more about the new collection.
INTERVIEW AND STORY BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
Imagista: Can you offer us some insight into how the Spring 2017 came about?
Ian Hylton: Min values clothing and accessories that people treasure and that are not disposable. She wanted to create a collection, and she approaches all of her collections this way, that was both personal to her and also timeless to the wearer. Min appreciates handmade things and details created by hand. Obviously, making everything by hand isn’t practical for every piece in the collection but all of the needle work and detailing was done by hand. So you’ll see a lot of hand stitching wherever possible in this collection.
Imagista: Where did Min turn for inspiration on this collection?
Ian Hylton: Rather than look outward for inspiration Min really looked inward and to that which is familiar to her. She took inspiration from her mother and grandmother and also from China’s unique, and rich, fashion history. At the same time everything in the collection is also very timeless and wearable. The clothes are appealing to both Chinese women and to westerners.
Imagista: When we visited the Ms.Min headquarters in Xiamen, China we were surprised to find out that much of the collection was being made right on your premises? Isn’t that unusual for a fashion brand?
Ian Hylton: We really stress quality at Ms.Min. Both Min and I are complete control freaks in that regard. Min thought I was nuts but I insisted on building and staffing our own on-site factory so that we would have more control with all fronts: creatively, quality, and with delivery times. I audition each potential sewer with a very tough test. They all must sew a chiffon pant which is one of the most difficult tests for anyway making clothes. We end up with a 65% hire rate despite each applicant coming from the very best factories. A lot of people don’t yet understand how high standards are in China because there’s the cheaply made stuff that gets exported and then the higher quality goods which typically remain in China. Ms.Min’s manufacturing is on par with anything we have done in say Italy or other countries know for quality manufacturing. We are really proud of the fact that the clothes are made in China.
Imagista: What’s next for the brand?
Ian Hylton: We’ve come a long way in a couple of short years and have seen great success in China. We are beginning to increase our presence in the US, Europe and the rest of the world. The response has been incredible and we feel very fortunate. We’d like to see Ms.Min as a brand become as successful as the top European and American designer brands and we believe we’re on our way to doing just that.