Last week I was lucky enough to attend Hong Kong Fashion week as a guest of fashion designer, Ben Yung. It is the second largest fashion event held in Asia, showcasing over 1,500 exhibits with their fall/winter ranges. I was very excited to watch the parades and see how beautifully curated Ben’s show was, his use of black and gold was stunning, and has left me hankering for an occasion to need to wear one of his evening dresses! I am always very inspired by people who have the courage and belief to break from their safe lifestyle to pursue their dreams, Ben is one such person.
I caught up with him to find out more;
Hi Ben, welcome to The Boudica Files…
Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to setting up your own label?
I was born here in HK and moved to Sydney, Australia when I was 8 years old, and spent 15 years there through school, university and the beginning stages of my career. I’m very proud of my Chinese and Australian heritage and I still have lots of childhood friends who I am in contact with back in Sydney. I studied to be an accountant and was working in that field for awhile after graduation, and I moved back to HK in 2001 to work in the family business. But after a couple of years I realised that wasn’t the path that I wanted to lead and hence took a chance and enrolled myself in fashion school in HK and then in London. I spent 6 years in London and New York working part time in the industry and studying my second degree in fashion design. After further work experience in London I moved back to HK and launched my own label b.yu Designs.
How would you describe your brand?
Our brand ethos is simple, it’s also our ‘slogan’ so to speak, which is: “be lovely. be stunning. b.yu”. The b.yu customer is an individual who is confident in her style and appearance and is not a slave to the hippest trends or fads. Our pieces are stylish, timeless, well-made and accessible.
If you could choose a celebrity spokesmodel, who would you choose?
I’m not sure if having a celebrity spokesmodel is what b.yu is about, but the list of women I would love to dress is endless. Two in particular that stand out is Cate Blanchett, whose style is always on point and is someone who isn’t afraid to take fashion risks. The other celebrity on my radar right now is Taylor Swift, who has had a huge transformation in the past year; not only does she dress appropriately for her age (unlike many other celebs), she does it so effortlessly looking very chic and fresh.
What memorable responses have you had to your range?
One of my closest friends asked me to design her wedding dress last year and I was petrified as I had never done a bridal design before. However she had complete faith in me and the result was one of my favourite pieces I have ever made. I hand-sewed close to 900 beads myself and when she walked down the aisle she looked absolutely exquisite. She came up to me later and told me she’s never felt so beautiful in her life, and that is probably the biggest compliment a designer could ever receive.
Where would you like to see your label go from here?
Right now b.yu Designs is primarily a womenswear label but ultimately I would like to turn it into a multi-brand covering all aspects of fashion including mens and childrenswear and hopefully branching into other product areas such as accessories, eyewear and even homewares and cosmetics. The sky’s the limit!
What superpower would you have and why?
A superpower that I would love to have is to control time. Our lives are so frenetic these days I think it would be great if I can slow it down or speed it up depending on the situation. I’ve been obsessing over the subject of time since watching the movies ‘Interstellar’ and ‘The Theory of Everything’ – it’s something everyone has in one way or another and yet has no control over.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
My dad gave me this piece of advice when I was still in high school, long before I decided to take on my own business but it is something that applies not only for my brand but for life in general. It’s in Chinese and the saying is this: 人無我有，人有我優，人優我轉
In English, it basically means “Create something that others don’t currently possess; and once they do improve on what you have and differentiate yourself; and when others are at that same level, change and create something different again”. He’s taught me to always stay one step ahead and be smart about my decision making.
Can you list for me your top creative resources across any media – ie websites or blogs you visit daily, magazines you can’t live without?
I actually try not to look at all the fashion magazines and websites as it can stifle my creative process and cause me to obsess over what I should or shouldn’t be designing. But I do love The Sartorialist (www.thesartorialist.com) as it covers practically everything from runway looks to streetwear to photography. I also get most of my inspiration from everyday objects or during my travels, so I am constantly snapping away on my phone or camera to find that different point of view. My guilty pleasure is watching Fashion Police on E! when Joan Rivers was on as she could fuse fashion and comedy like no other! I miss her sense of humour so much.
Where can we shop your range?
Our latest range will be available for purchase from February at Issy Mason in Kowloon (www.issymason.com.hk), and I will also be launching our brand-new online store on our website at www.byu-designs.com in the coming weeks. I am also currently in discussions with stockists in Germany and other Asian countries as well. 2015 will be a big year for b.yu Designs!
Beach or Pool?
Beach – nothing relaxes me more than the sound of the ocean.
Thanks so much for chatting with us Ben, you can find b.yu on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – all @byudesigns
We look forward to following you in the future.
L, millie + tbf