Kwaleö presents to you: Mengqi Ma
Meet Mengqi Ma, the latest addition to our store. Her collection’s pared back feminine pieces come with an urban twist, whilst remaining practical to wear. In our latest interview for the Kwaleö blog, the Chinese fashion designer talks to us about establishing her fashion brand in London, the inspiration for her designs and her brand’s concept.
What’s your background? How did you get into fashion?
I was born in China. After I graduated from high school, I took fashion design as my major at university. I worked in a fashion company for half a year in between my BA and my Master degree at London College of Fashion.
What do you do on a typical week day?
I do some online research in the morning to get design inspiration and read the fashion industry news. I also go to exhibitions and museums to explore my mind and do sketches. This is only at the beginning of the design stage. When I move to the production process, the romantic part of the work is done, and I’m only endlessly busy.
How would you describe the fashion scene in London?
I really enjoy living in London, it is so tolerant towards mixed cultures. People can wear anything, in any style they want, it’s amazing. I can do around a hundred sketches in one day by just sitting in a café and watching people
on the street, it is absolutely insane!
How did you establish your brand Mengqi Ma?
I launched my first collection on my website www.mengqima.co.uk
after registering my company and brand logo in the UK. In the beginning I was very anxious and nervous because of my lack of sources and contacts. A healthy financial situation decides upon how long I can keep running this business. Yes, business has truly become the core of everything for me.
What do you love about fashion?
I love all things beautiful: architecture, fine art, madness reimagined, installations etc. Everyone wears clothes every day — can you imagine the huge effect it has on us? Every single second. It makes me addicted to learning about fashion and living my dream of being a fashion designer.
Could you talk us through the design process of your pieces?
I think the brand identity is the soul of this brand. I spent so much time figuring it out and integrating it. Generally, I start with online and offline research, draw sketches, and really have the materials and fabrics explode around me. When I get into this stage, things become trickier instead of exciting and fun. There are too many things that need a decision from me, but once I move to the production stage, there’s no going back. I can’t waste money. It’s difficult to put it into words. Changes always happen during every stage, no matter how perfect a schedule you have made. All that matters is to stay calm and strong.
Who is the customer that wears your pieces? Who are you designing for?
My target customers love life and are passionate about travelling. They love exploring the unknown, sharing their experiences with friends, and they are able to portray their true self. They also love photography and fine food. They celebrate the beauties in life, with a strong interest in art and design.
You're a Chinese designer working out of London. What's so beautiful about London? What's the main difference between London and your home town?
I am currently working in London as an independent designer — which is not easy — and it’s the best city I’ve ever lived in. Meeting Mr. Right and marrying in London might have something to do with it… We are very happy, so I always feel love around me. Family is my backup, so no matter how difficult it might be as an independent designer — especially in this luxurious city — I will do my best to run my business and keep it.
Everybody talks about China nowadays. I am proud of my country, it has such a long history with a lot of influence on the West, in terms of our culture and handcraft. The differences between the UK and China continuously inspire me and give me a unique design tool. The Chinese structure of architecture, traditional costumes of various dynasties, even traditional Chinese food; all of these are going in my next research book.
What's next for Mengqi Ma?
The brand Mengqi Ma will put more emphasis on the web and on business collaborations such as with https://kwaleo.com/ which offers emerging designers an online exhibition space and technical support. Using new media to develop your brand is the most effective way to increase your sales channels by making them spread fast and relate to a wide range of people. At the same time, I will also be represented in some showrooms to establish a relationship.
Article by Dora Samantha Jagger for Kwaleö
- Claudia Barnes