If you’ve ever moseyed on through Dover Street Market, you’ve probably come across the rather splendid fashions courtesy of Shushu/Tong. Or maybe not. The Shanghai-based brand is a regular sell-out for the concept store, also flying off the e-shelves on both Browns Fashion and Farfetch. Founded in 2015 by Liushu Lei and Yutong Jiang, the brand sets out to subvert traditional feminine tropes – whether it be crafting gritty babydoll dresses or adorning skimpy silhouettes in gigantic jewels and plenty of ruffles.
Lei and Jiang have spent most of their adult life together. Attending the same high-school back in Chengdu, the pair both came to the UK to study at London College of Fashion. “It was quite intense; the system is very different from where we had previously studied back in Shanghai,” reflect the pair on their time at the esteemed university. After a series of internships with renowned brands across the globe, the duo decided to create a miniature capsule collection in the summer they graduated from university. After quickly selling out, Lei and Jiang decided to take the plunge and set upon creating their own brand from Shanghai.
With 13 collections already under their belt, the design duo took to Shanghai Fashion Week at the beginning of October to present their spring/summer 2021 offering. “After this horrible pandemic, we want to do something really light and joyful,” say the pair – who dubbed the collection Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend –after the infamous Marylin Monroe hit.
Applying Monroe’s whimsical and materialistic character to a contemporary context, this season, the Shushu/Tong woman embraced her sparklier side. The silhouettes throughout were a representation of a girl’s growth into maturity – packed with high-split skirts, elegant jackets and underwear as outerwear. Stone embroidery is present throughout, as are shiny satin fabrics – used to create ballooned gowns and embroidered capes.
On creating such a lavish collection during a global pandemic, the pair put the outstanding results down to imagination and their ability to utilise all the resources they could possibly find. “In February, we even invited our technician’s relatives to assist in the making of our new collection,” explain the designers.
Shushu/Tong is bringing a refreshing energy to contemporary womenswear, giving outdated feminine tropes a new lease of life. The brand balances elegance and sensuality with a tender naivety that’ll have you longing for your youth. Here’s to never growing up.
by Paul Toner
Photography courtesy of Shushu/Tong.