BLIND by JW is the mastermind of designers Jessica Lau and Walter Kong. The company was founded in 2012 and is a fusion of both eastern and western design. Lau is a graduate of Central Saint Martins Art and Design College from London (CSM) and Kong a graduate from Polytechnic University in Hong Kong.
Lau was named, ‘Best emerging designer’ in London and has worked for some of the most prolific design houses in the world including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Diane von Furstenberg.
Kong won ‘The overall winner of Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ contest and has worked in many well-known fashion companies across China and Hong Kong.
The duo met when Lau came back to Hong Kong from the UK three years ago. She says she was, “determined to explore and to see how the biggest factories facilities in China work, a different area in fashion marketing, promotion, PR in Asia.” The collaboration began when Lau and Kong met in their workplace and decided they had the same vision and wanted to begin their own women’s wear label.
Lau’s background of working with some of the most important designers in the world before co-founding BLIND with Kong has certainly helped shape her design aesthetic now, she tells me it “allowed me to have the chance be very creative and to be able explore different ways and techniques in design/drawing/making samples/draping/embellishment/embroidery/fitting and styling. Being able to see beautiful fabric and workmanship from embellishments to different cuts allows me to see fashion from a different perspective. A collection starting from zero and finally seeing it on the catwalk is quite magical. As a result this influenced me to establish my own line and to be able to create and design a collection for real, all starting from zero.”
It’s with this background as well as Lau’s Chinese heritage that has resulted in the interesting partnership “Chinese has a very strong historical background and story. And design houses that I have worked in uses Chinese elements as their inspiration, from paintings to workmanship, which influenced me a lot and also I think it’s due to the fact that I grew up in London which makes me more interested and fascinated to know more about my Chinese heritage. Which is why I would like to use Chinese mix with British element as one of the main style to our brand, using hand drawn digital printing and lazer cut based on a story.” And it’s this fusion of both which sets Lau and Kong apart from many other brands. Kong adds, “I feel Hong Kong has a strong passion and encouragement, which enhances my way of working.”
After deciding to begin the brand, the duo have not stopped moving towards their goals. Interestingly they started selling their collection in London first. Speaking about those first few months they tell me, “It was exciting and nervous at the same time, as we started everything from zero. We think it was because we had huge courage, which made it work in the end. Creating a collection was only the very beginning. We took the collection and did a photo-shoot, bought two return tickets to London along with our first collection to see if anyone is interested. In the end we had a shop return our call (saying they) would like to put our debut collection in her shop.”
With experience in both markets, I ask Lau if she sees a difference in the Hong Kong customer to a European one, and Lau says. “Two years ago we (saw) Hong Kong generally more conservative on how they style (themselves), their buying behavior and how they see fashion. Europe they tend to have their own way of styling and experimenting different ways to mix and match clothes, more adventurous, whilst Hong Kong tends to follow rather than experiment.” However they are seeing a shift, “with local designers, fashion bloggers, boutiques/shops/online business coming up, more and more people in Hong Kong are more aware of the good designers in Hong Kong and are starting be more adventurous with their styling.”
Speaking of how they get inspiration for their collection they reveal, “We first brainstorm together and think of a story, looking through galleries, exhibition, events to get further inspiration for colors, textures, shapes, before deciding the overall outcome.” They describe what kind of a BLIND by JW girl is as “a confident woman, knowing what she wants, like to social and be out there. Likes music, art, going to galleries, exhibition reading books and magazines.”
As for the meaning behind the name BLIND?, “We wanted people to remember our brand name and to have a deep meaning. And Blind is actually a curtain blind which you open up and can see the outside beautiful dream world (which is why our prints is all inspired by the outside gardens or woodlands) allows our girls wearing our clothes can wear their dream world.” And it seems Lau and Kong are living theirs, “Creating our collection and having our customer wearing our collection and appreciating our collection is our biggest accomplishment.”
With so many new and aspiring designers out there, I ask the Lau and Kong what would be the best advice they would give any new designer and what they should know before they start “Definitely need passion, be confident and don’t give up. Always remember, fashion is a very competitive industry, and to bring up your brand is easy but to sustain your brand is the hardest. No matter where you work, things won’t come easy, so you have to work very hard in order to (see) some results.”
I'm curious how they make their design viewpoints work so effortlessly together and they tell me, “(we) both have the same vision and had always aim to work it out. “We do have arguments, but funny enough this actually can help us grow and improve our teamwork.”
With BLIND being stocked in London, Hong Kong and Singapore I wonder if they edit their collection to suit each location, “Yes, we have edited our collection for each place. But very little as we find our customers both in London and Hong Kong are actually quite similar.” I finally ask them what their plans are going forward and they say, “Lets say Hong Kong isn’t our full stop.” And having seen their latest collection, I certainly believe them.