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This 23-year-old designer defines youth fashion’s role in 2020

2020 youth fashion is at a standstill.

We’re a generation that dresses up to stay sane inside, not exactly to dance the night away like we used to. New collections either spark joy to the ones who can afford it or ignored by those who have set their priorities elsewhere. It should be a cause for alarm (to the industry at least), but no one can blame anyone for thinking fashion these days is mere indulgence.

But 23-year-old designer Ena Cui doesn’t see current youth fashion as pure luxury. In fact, she wants her craft to be aware and adaptive in these times.

“For me, designing clothes pre-pandemic was actually all about comfort, and sharing stories and my aesthetics in general. Nowadays, it’s a different story,” explains Ena. “It’s not just thinking about what people want but also being aware of what they need.”

“I just didn’t want to drop something just because it’s what’s selling in the industry or just for the sake of making money.”

Ena is known for her youthful, avant-garde designs derived from Japanese street fashion and out-of-the-box designers who came before her. Whether it’s ready-to-wear or runway-friendly pieces, her works demand the onlookers’ attention. Her pieces always tell a story whether it’s her own heartbreaks or a practical reflection of the current zeitgeist.

She didn’t waver in this approach with her newest collection that’s entirely dedicated to creative and artistic workers braving the outside world every day.

Ena’s The New Normal embraces the signs of the times. With variations of coats and blazers, her clothes possess her signature creative imprint partnered with necessary safety precautions in this terrible year. Wanting to know more about the collection, we talked to the designer herself on her thoughts on 2020 youth fashion and what led her to create this drop.

What went through your mind while conceptualizing this?
I had no idea how I was going to start conceptualizing. I knew I had to make something inspired by our current safety gear in place. But as a designer, I just didn’t want to drop something just because it’s what’s selling in the industry or just for the sake of making money.

The challenge was all about giving serious consideration to every detail, every aspect of the design. We made sure to use fabrics that are lightweight but also fabrics that can be worn for everyday safety gear. Regardless of the situation we are in, people would still find it wearable. Timeless pieces as others would say.

What urged you to construct fashionable safety gear?
Initially, it was my sister who wanted me to design something for her daily grind. She’s a makeup artist, so she’s out a lot and in close contact with clients most of the time. Unlike my sister, I’m just a homebody and since I wasn’t actually doing anything at that time, I told her I’d try to make some sketches.

“It’s not just thinking about what people want but also being aware of what they need.”

Could you walk us through the design choices for your drop?
It’s actually just trying to incorporate every project with my aesthetic as a designer. It was kind of a gamble. This project was an experiment, really. My sister wanted a safety coat for the current pandemic, but I wanted something different. I knew this time I had to make two designs for the first release, at least. I felt the need to make something people would actually want to wear and something I would wear myself as well without having to compromise others’ safety.

Would you be doing more drops like this in 2020?
I don’t wanna jinx it by either saying yes or no, but I’m currently working on some samples, design studies and pulling out files that have been sitting on my archives for a while now. Hopefully, things will work out so that I can share it with you guys too.

Read more:
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This online art gallery is for creatives who can’t go out to exhibits because of nCoV
7 fresh clothing brands we’re digging right now

Photos from Ena Cui

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Rogin Losa
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