I met Joanne casually one day while being at the shop, we started talking and instantly connected. Sharing a common idea of how femininity in fashion was evolving, she mentioned she was developing and creating a personal clothing brand, what I didn’t know was that I was in front of such an incredible forward thinking talented designer. Always keeping functionality and style in mind her designs represent modernism and function in such a beautiful way.
In honor of her beautiful pop up we are hosting at the San Francisco shop, we visited her studio and chatted about inspiration, work and life.
Marta: Hi dear! I am so excited to finally be able to share your amazing desgins with our customers, after talking about it for so many months, but let’s start from the beginning ! How did it all start? how did this line come to life?
Joanne Lu: In fact, I started this collection by designing clothes for myself. I always have a lot of design ideas come up in my brain and I can’t find any brand having them. 2013 after I graduated from Academy of art University, I started to work for Porsche Design as a stylist. My job require a very high dressing standard. That was the first time I experience the “wakeup, get ready in 30 mins” modern woman's lifestyle. 2 years later, I quitted my full time job and launched Mute by JL. I design for empower women with contemporary pieces that are unique yet wearable. Allow them have more time to chase their dream.
M: I love hearing that, I truly believe that the designs always come from a personal necessity that we have and we need to fulfill, so hearing it all started by designing clothes for yourself makes so much sense to me! Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do?
JL: Yes. Well i did not know I always knew it until the last month of my employee life. I was a womenswear design student, a menswear designer, a fashion merchandising student, and a in-house stylist before I am the founder of my own fashion line. I picked up skills for running my own business from every role I played. No matter what kind of problem I was facing I always think it as “ what if this is my own business? How am I gonna deal with this issue?”
M: I couldn’t agree more! I myself have had a similar trajectory in the sense that I have done a little bit of everything in the fashion industry and I find that such a blessing! Not only it prepares you to be ready to jump and do every single thing that is required when owning your own business, but also it gives you such a different perspective on what is needed, a much more global view of the business itself that I think is very special, and in your case one can completely see it when looking at your collections. I always love to get inside our designers minds, and one of the things that is more interesting to me is how a collection is developed, how your brain works… for you what would you say are the first steps when designing a new collection? Do you start by a color palette, or a textile, or a pattern? What is the first inspiration that set’s all in motion?
JL: I have a behavior. I put down a lot of thoughts on my journal. When season started I always open my journal and start blend and play with the ideas and come up with some new design elements. For the 2017 collection, is about simplicity and sophisticated layers, inspired by piercing, which I see as highly personal. Piercing is like a poem in one’s life journal. I put piercing on the items of my collection to mark my life’s journey. We create these marks to remember something important to us, and no one can understand what it represents except the person. I see clothes the same way, as a personal tool of identification.
M: Oh I so wish we could get to see those journals and what is in them! It is so fascinating to me how even being in the same field and having a similar goal all designers have such different approaches or are triggered by such different muses when starting a new collection. It is so magical! Do you think the way you create, that process has to do also with what your brand? How would you describe it in a few words? What are the fundaments of it? And what keeps you motivated to continue doing what you do?
JL: Mute by JL has her own brand personality, empowered and driven, yet peaceful within. The biggest motivation is promo this independent female image as well.
M: Strong women all day every day. The future is female and that is more palpable now than it has ever been. I love having the opportunity at the shops to not only promote and give women designers a space to show their pieces, but also am so proud to get to work along side them, to learn and be inspired by strong female characters is what I live for! In that sense I am always curious why you guys choose us as retailers and to present your pieces, why did you choose Voyager for a pop up and us for hosting and carrying your beautiful line?
JL: Voyager is always one of my favorite bouquet to shop. San Francisco does not have a lot of fashion insiders walking around. It has it unique style. And Voyager is the symbol of SF style. Just like the city, it combines lots of conflicting factors. Like Hippie and hi-tech. So many unknown possibility here. Everyone here is looking forward to see how San Francisco style will shape when fashion meets high tech, but right now, I haven’t seen anyone doing a really good job of combining these two elements.
M: You are so kind, we truly love what we do and we pour our heart and soul into it and I am so happy to hear it shows. Ok, now one more question to finish, how do you see the line in 10 years, or more than that where would you like to see it? What would you like the future of the brand to be ?
JL: I’m a dreamer. My dream about this line is I can develop it to different city lines. For example, we will have Mute San Francisco and the designs are inspired by the local weather. So summer coat will only be sold here in San Francisco. And I can travel around the world, design different style base on the local culture.
M: Coming from a dreamer too that sounds so amazing, I am sure it will happen and I can not wait to see your take on other cities and places Joanne!
Thanks so much for having us and thanks even more for letting us support and host your beautiful pieces at the shop, I can not wait for everybody to be as obsessesed about them as I am !