Interview with Mengtian Sui of Tinsquare
by Mary Winkenwerder
Mary Winkenwerder is a writer, blogger, seasoned beauty expert and published makeup artist. She blogs at Ultimate Report when she’s not helping others in the industry expand their visibility through her philanthropy project called Published Project. You can find her blogging lifestyle (fashion, runway, beauty, seasonal color, food, family) at Ultimate Report.
Editorial Note: In our lead-up to New York Fashion Week, we’re showcasing designers who may not be “household names” yet, but are making waves in the fashion community. Meet some of the big-name designers of the future.
Mengtian Sui has created six collections to date: including “Lower East Side,” for SS2017. This new showing of expression has taken a bold move offering looks that reflect urban environment, modern culture, and lifestyle created from natural fabrications. The artist whose appreciations and inspirations stem from classic painters and pop art leaves audiences asking questions after all is said and done. To understand about the creative mind of this designer and what makes her tick, I caught up with Mengtian and found out more.
(Photos: Dale Rollings)
Q: At what point in life did you decide that you wanted to express through design?
I started studying painting at the age of four and thanks to my Mom, I never stopped on art. I experienced on various form, pencil, collage, oil paint, acrylic and so on. During high school, I know that I want to go further with this so I went to New Yok to study Fashion Design at Parsons.
Q: How has being a designer changed your life? Has it enhanced your point of view? Do you experience a new depth of life through design?
I think being a designer doesn’t quite change my life, rather it is being my life. I don’t want to separate my design from my life because I think my audience could tell that way. I don’t deliberately live in a certain way and I prefer everything comes naturally.
Q: How important is seasonal color when creating a collection? What motivates your use of seasonal color?
Color is very important in my expression and designs. I still remember when I was young, one of my favorite thing is mixing different color of paint and create new shade. In my design process, I have inspirations and themes for each season, but I don’t force myself to stick to it.
Q: When you wake up in the morning, what is your first thought generally? How does this first thought inspire and spark activity into your creative day?
I’m a morning person. I woke up no later than 8 am normally. I would like to think a bit about what to do during the day and set my schedules. I also go over some materials and inspirations, then just let my thoughts flow and keep some notes.
Q: How long is a typical workday for you? How do you stay motivated?
I start working around 10 am, and finish around 6pm. I don’t like to work over night because I think my brain getting more productive on regular schedule. I think my biggest motivation is the moment when I see designs and ideas come to life and become actual product.
Q: How does everyday life inspire your work? Were there any daily life elements that inspired your collection? If so, what are they?
I’m definitely getting inspired by daily life. I was grown up in various cities, Beijing, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, and now I live in Manhattan, New York. I love cities; I love the busy life, energetic vibe, and rich culture in each and every of them. I also enjoy and get inspired by going into the nature during weekend, road trips, hiking, skiing.
Q: What message did you want to convey through the creation of this collection? Why is it important that this message be understood? Do you believe that this message has been clearly heard?
I really want to do through my designs is to communicate with more interesting people. To me, communication doesn’t need word and I think of my designs as the platform, the media of this dialogue. I think not just to fashion, also in my fine art work, I always want to pose a question rather than give an answer. I think the most beautiful part is how different people see and understand the same piece could really enrich the original meaning.
Q: Let’s talk about hair and makeup. Who is the team you chose to work with to create these finishing touches? Why were these artistic touches important in presenting your collection?
For the latest season Spring Summer 2017, collection LES, presented at Vancouver Fashion Week. We did very bold and statement hair and make up. Each model has this bruised and beaten up non-traditional fashion look. And for hair, we have a very simple gelled all push back look and clipped with hundreds of metal clip. Because the collection is about mixture of culture, perspective and identity, we want to break the boundaries of fashion look.
Q: What is your favorite out of studio activity? Why?
I love the brainstorm time, or simply just the talking and chatting. I think most ideas and inspirations could come out of this words.
Q: How does your brand help to develop or aid others in the community / area / region / nationally? How long have you championed these causes?
I think the brand of Tinsquare is always about the community we live in, the situations we have experienced. For the past seasons, we have addressed on issues like urban environment, mixture of culture, modern lifestyle and so on. We want to Tinsquare to be relevant, contemporary and very vocal about our current life.
Q: What aspirations do you have for the growth of your line moving forward?
I keep getting inspired by the people, city, nature, art, and experience I encounter in life where keep my designs moving forward I think.
Q: What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome when creating this collection?
I think the biggest problem is compromising, as always. Compromising between the original ideas, giving the most foremost visual effect and the actual functionality, and consumer experience on product. We want to not only think of design concept and originality but also how consumer wears this product and what she/he want the most.
Q: In terms of demographic, who does your line speak to the loudest?
I think my designs speak more to confident, urban, independent women and men. To me there is not much of difference of culture and age. Because I personally grown up in both eastern and western culture, and I talks a lot about cultural mixture though my work.
Q: If there were three things you could have the consumer market take away from this collection, what would they be?
I would say I want to consumer see mixture of culture, identity and the meaning of breaking boundaries through this collection. Then would be the functionality and quality of the end product. Finally would be, as I said is actually the most exciting part, each consumer’s own interpretation and presentation of these garments, which I think as the final completion of this season.
Q: Collections are made up of pieces that cohesively come together for presentation. What types of pieces make up this particular collection?
Outerwear, like coats and jackets. Utility pants. And sporty dress are the top three category for spring summer 2017 season.
Q: Do the colors that make up the collection represent a global meaning? If so, what is that global meaning? How did you want the colors that make up this collection to speak to the consumer audience?
The main color palettes is khaki, military green, black, navy blue, and the pop of jail orange. To me those colors speaks about breaking cultural traditions and challenging the boundaries.
Q: What are the most meaningful things in life? How do you stay centered in such a forward moving creative space?
To the most important is family and friends. Fashion is very fast phased, especially in a city like New York; sometimes, it could be getting pretty hectic. But I tried to keep my little peaceful playground in my house, and that is like my escape spot.
Q: Did your childhood activities ever reflect your current passion for design? If so, how so? If not, how so?
I do think years of drawing and painting do shape where I am in my designs. Besides that, I also remember in my childhood, my happiest moment is when my mom got me a new doll that I can change her clothes and play on her look. I also made her lots of dress from scraps of cloths from my grandma.
Q: In this collection, how are accessories and shoes worked into this creative mix? Did you create your own or did you partner with another designer? If so, who did you partner with and why?
For spring/summer 2017 collection LES, we celebrate with other designers on footwear. After our team research, we found these utility boots really complete our look very. Also, we want to have more casual, hip, and young vibe to the presentation, as opposed to traditional high heels.
Q: What is your take on using sustainable materials? Do you use them? For what reasons, if so? (Some do and some do not. This may be non-applicable).
Yes, I’m quite aware of sustainability in my designs. I used only natural fabrications, like Italian cotton and silk jersey. I try not to include any leather or fur in my collection.
Q: Hand created design elements can make incredible finishing touches on garments. Does this collection bear any hand created elements? If so, what are they?
We have lot of new and intricate technique in ss 2017 collection like laser cut, screen print and fabric mounting.
Q: Who are your top three favorite artists and how have they inspired you as an artist? Official name of most recent collection? How many collections created to date?
I appreciate and get inspired by work of classic painters, like Peter Paul Rubens, and modern artists, like Salvadore Dali. I think new York city is full of pop art, like the time square train station wall filled with Roy Lichtenstein’s mosaic that I passed by every day.
TINSQUARE is more than a clothing brand. It is a statement reflecting the climactic moment. From the clothing line itself to the finishes of hair and makeup, each seasonal statement offers a new point of view of what’s going on and the designer’s intimate thoughts about these events. What’s next for the brand and the designer who so boldly shares her point of view through natural fabrics? I, myself, cannot wait for the next collection to show.