Modern Heritage: An Interview with brand HEW

Culture — 26.06.19

Photography: Kalina Pulit
Beauty: Paul Rodgers
Model: Amanda Ljunggren at Tomorrow Is Another Day
Photo Assistant: Silvia Draz

For its AW19 collection, London-based womenswear brand HEW looked for inspiration within Asian culture. The brand took a fresh approach, however, aiming to celebrate its heritage but also challenge stereotypical associations and cliché perceptions of Asia, in particular, China. Looking past the intricate embroidery and prints, HEW stripped back the decorative patterns present in ancient Asian costumes and accessories. Instead, the brand focused on the garment’s structure and its craft via the process of deconstruction. That, infused with a colour palette taken from Sean Scully’s ‘Landline China 8’, resulted in a collection that fuses tradition with modernity and sophistication with simplicity.

What was the inspiration behind this collection?

For this collection, I looked at my background and heritage. It was vital for me to express and explore my culture and build it into my collection. Asian culture and costumes have inspired many designers over the years. However, generally, their focus has been on the outer appearance of the decorative patterns and details. 

What research went into the development of your garments?

I began my research by examining some ancient Asian costumes and accessories. My objective was to look past the intricate embroidery and prints. I wanted to strip back all the decorative patterns to get to the essence of the skeleton of the garment and its craft. 

Can you explain your creative process?

Once I was familiar with the inner structure, I deconstructed it to try and enrich the clothing language while still retaining its nature in the reorganisation and constitution of my collection. Just like the abstract paintings of Irish painter Sean Scully that I was drawn to when I was working on the collection,  who simplified and purified the modelling language.


What does the colour palette represent?

The colour palette was inspired by Sean Scully’s oil painting “Landline China 8”, the strokes of rich colour. The buttery paint evokes the landscapes and horizons inspired by the fields of his native Ireland. His story resonated with me and so did the vibrant blend of colour.  


What mood does your collection evoke?

The atmosphere of the collection was a blend of inspiration by Carolyn Drake and Michael Christopher Brown’s record of modern Asian images – Asian features and gems through a Western lens.

Any final thoughts?

I hope to evoke new thoughts and perspectives on my heritage that will break through the stereotypes that the West has formed of China. We have more to offer than the decorative patterns, landscapes and dragons that most people are familiar with.

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