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knitwear extraordinaire xiao li

Xiao Li is the knitwear know-it-all that we all want to learn something from! Young, fun and handy with a needle, we get to know the next generation's knitwear extraordinaire...

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And the winner is… Xiao Li! From the halls of London College of Fashion to the Royal College of Art, Xiao Li’s fashion adventure has been a colourful one. 2014 has marked her the winner of Fashion Scout’s Merit Award and a finalist of H&M 2014 awards. 2013 saw her scoop up the The Diesel Award for International Talent, as well as the Loro Piana Award for the Best Knitwear. Phew! We catch up with the knitwear extraordinaire- watch this space.

Where are you from? 
I’m from China. Before I moved to London for my fashion studies, I lived in Qingdao, a really beautiful and comfortable seaside city on north China!  

Has where you’re from in China influenced your designs? 
Qingdao is a place rich with both eastern and western cultures and the arts. At the centre of the city, there is a group of old architectural buildings from 26 different countries. People call it 'The Museum of Architecture'. I love it because so many people who live there love art and fashion. I think this is probably the reason why I feel in love with art and design when I was young and I always wanted to move to London to study fashion.

What made you want to study fashion?
I love clothes … I always wanted to be a fashion designer!

What’s your favourite thing about studying fashion?
That everyday is different, it makes me feel alive and fresh. I have to, and like to, learn new things and have new ideas. I have to keep challenging myself.

Do you like to challenge yourself with new textile processes?
Yes, I really enjoy challenging myself and the processes of creative new things!

What are the biggest challenges you face as a designer? 
To constantly have fresh ideas. For a designer the biggest challenge is how to make a creative idea work in real life and create wearable pieces and collections. It’s about finding the balance between those things.

What are your biggest inspirations?
Everyday life.

What makes knitwear so fun?
The fun part of knitwear is that I can play with modern yarns and colours. I’m able to create my own fabric then use them in my own collections!

That sounds so much fun, from beginning to the very end of the process. You also love colour. What are your fave colours?
Blue and yellow… but I like each and every colour when they are on the right things.

What do you think is the future of fashion?
I think the future of fashion will be more simple and fun. People can take only some part of the designs or processes and be able to mix and match with technologies more. The cloth people wear will have more individual style and taste. Also, maybe future fashion designers won’t sell literal garments any more. They may only need to sell ideas or softwares. People could use a 3D printer or some new machine which doesn’t even exist yet, to DIY garments.

What do you think is the future of knitwear?
Due to developments in tech and material, the faction and appearance of knitwear may be totally changed…

What is your favourite piece you have designed so far?
I love them all but the oversize yellow knitwear jumper with oversize silicon necklace from my RCA collection is my best so far.

What does it feel like to win Fashion Scout Merit Award?
I am really surprised, excited and grateful. I always wanted to have my own brand and show. I’m trying not to worry about it too much right now but I think it happened at the right moment.

You’ve also been nominated for an H&M award- is that exciting?
I am happy with the H&M Award, especially as it was a really nice experience to work with the H&M team!

What are your plans for the future for your label?
Next step, I want to apply for NEWGEN. Long term plan is that I want to have both womenswear, menswear and childrenswear under my name.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Find out who you are and follow your heart. Design what you like!